By Madhulika Dash
From Easter Bunny to Coloured Eggs, from the Simnel Cakes to Hard Candies and Jelly Beans, here’s how a Pagan Spring Festival that celebrated a new life with rabbits became a festival of treats – especially sweets.
Celebrated widely as the day when Jesus Christ’ resurrected from the dead, Easter became a festival and a holiday- thanks to Emperor Constantine. Back in 325AD, the Emperor met other church leaders and together they decreed that Easter would fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. And since then Easter has been celebrated both as a day of new beginnings, and the end of Lent. But it wasn’t the start of a new culture.
Easter or Pascha as the Greeks called it was an ancient festival that celebrated the beginning of a new season of life we all today call ‘Spring’. And egg, which was back then seen as a symbol of life became an obvious way to do that.
How and when did a Bunny, Coloured Egg and Candies became a part of the celebration however is even today a conjecture – and possible points towards Easter origin as a German Pagan Festival that celebrated Osterhase. Essentially a rabbit, Osterhase was considered the pet of fertility goddess Ostara and was known to lay eggs and was a symbol of rebirth. Others believe Easter was inspired from the early Anglo-Saxon festival that celebrated the goddess Eastre, and the coming of spring, in a sense a resurrection of nature after winter.
In fact, it was the Germans who introduced the concept of coloured eggs back in the 18th century in America, and it soon became a norm in Easter celebration.
But how did each of these treats really make it to the Easter Basket, here’s a look into their classic origin!