Like virtually every other Christian holiday, Easter has two thousand years of myths, legends and misconceptions associated with it. Most have to do with the traditional icons of the holiday - candy, rabbits, eggs, etc. But the very origins and history of Easter are shrouded in mystery, as is its name and date. Not to mention the fringe theories about what *really* happened to Jesus, and who was responsible for his death.
These Easter myths and legends about the Easter holiday might surprise you. Sure, eggs are a traditional symbol of rebirth. But what about ham? What's really the deal with Lent? What's the history of the Easter Bunny and why is there a guy dressed like the Easter Bunny murdering people in the woods in Virginia?Read on to learn more about your Easter Bunny history and other Easter facts below! The history of Easter is full of misconceptions, so be sure you're caught up before the Easter egg hunts begin.
Where Did the Easter Bunny Come From?
The Easter Bunny is traditionally considered part of the Easter holiday because it represents the rebirth of life that comes with spring. The Bunny is usually linked with the Pagan spring holiday that honored the goddess of fertility, Eostre, but this itself is a modern invention, created by folklorist Jacob Grimm in the 1800s.The simple explanation for the Easter Bunny’s link with Easter is that rabbits represent an important symbol in Christianity in general, as it was believed in ancient times that the hare could reproduce asexually, a virgin birth of sorts. German Protestant settlers in Pennsylvania brought the tradition to the US in the 18th Century.
The Jews Killed Jesus
One of the lynchpins of 2,000 years of European anti-Semitic violence is that the Jewish people were directly responsible for the execution of Christ. Known as "Jewish deicide," the charge seems to stem from Matthew 27:24–25, where the crowd of Jews (who were under Roman control) shouted that Jesus' blood was "on us and on our children." Despite the Jews of the Roman Empire having no power to dispense capital punishment, they were blamed anyway.
Modern Christianity rejects these charges, and they were specifically repudiated by the Second Vatican Council in 1967. Not only that, but the account of Jesus' crucifixion changes over the centuries, and only in that one part of Matthew is blame placed on Jews - something that, theoretically the authors of the gospels could have done to convince Roman audiences as to their veracity.Finally, it should be pointed out that Jesus himself was a Jew - and it took his death to catalyze the religion that's been built around him. Despite all of this, over a quarter of Americans still believe in some form of Jewish deicide.
Easter Ham Is Traditional
One of the biggest ways Passover and Easter have become distinct from each other is in the food with which each holiday is associated. Easter breads, such as hot cross buns, are conspicuously marked to ensure eaters know they’re leavened, as opposed to the unleavened matzoh eaten on Passover.Then there’s the Easter ham, a meal that devout Jews would never eat, as it’s not kosher. Traditionally, it’s thought that the ham was served not because it had anything to do with Jesus or the resurrection, but because it would have been brined in the fall and kept over the winter for eating during the spring celebration. Likewise, there’s no biblical basis for the bright orange glaze or pineapple slices that often accompany the ham.
Why Is it Called Easter?
The word “Easter” never appears in the Bible, and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ had no all-encompassing name for quite some time. It’s likely that the name “Easter” was a take-off of some variant of the name of the Pagan goddess Eostre, who represented fertility and rebirth. “Eostre” itself is a derivative of the Proto-Germanic word for “dawn,” continuing the theme of new life and light.However, for much of the first millennium of Christianity, the holiday was known as Pascha, a word derived from the Hebrew word for Passover, Pesach. The two holidays occur at the same time, based on the same lunar timetable, known as a paschal full moon.