Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter



Easter eggs are specially decorated eggs given out to celebrate the Easter holiday or springtime. Eggs and Easter have become almost synonymous and yet most people do not know much about the origins of the Easter egg tradition.

It is the influence of the traditional spring rites that made Easter so special. And myths coming down to us from an incredibly distant past have shown man's relationship with the egg to be very deep seated one. This is caught in old Latin proverb: "Omne vivum ex ovo". This means "all life comes from an egg". Not just the Latin saying, eggs are just laid well over all corners of the world. From ancient India to Polynesia, from Iran, Greece, and Phoenicia to Poland, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland, from Central America to the west coast of South America, there are reports of myths of the whole universe created out of an egg. Thus, it is not unusual that in almost all ancient cultures eggs had been held as an emblem of life. The concept of all living beings born from an egg is also a foundational concept of modern biology. 

Despite claims being made that Easter Eggs were originally pagan symbols, there is no solid evidence for this. It was not until the 18th Century that Jakob Grimm theorised a putative pagan connection to Easter Eggs with a goddess of his own whom he named Ostara, a suggested German version of Eostre.

At the Passover Seder, a hard-boiled egg dipped in salt water symbolizes both new life and the Passover sacrifice offered at the Temple in Jerusalem. The ancient Persians painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration falling on the Spring Equinox. This tradition has continued every year on Nowrooz since ancient times.

In Christian times, the egg was a symbol of new life just as a chick might hatch from the egg. The Easter egg tradition may have celebrated the end of the privations of Lent. In the Medieval Europe, eggs were forbidden during Lent as well as other traditional fast days. During the strict Lenten fast of forty days no eggs were eaten. It was traditional to use up all of the household's eggs before Lent began, which established the tradition of Pancake Day. This was because, in Christian times, the egg was a symbol of new life just as a chick might hatch from the egg. Eggs were viewed as symbols of new life and fertility through the ages. It is believed that for this reason many ancient cultures, including the Ancient Egyptians, Persians, and Romans, used eggs during their spring festivals. In Eastern Christianity, both meat and dairy are still prohibited during the fast, and eggs are seen as "dairy" (a foodstuff that could be taken from an animal without shedding its blood). That is the reason why eggs laid during that time were often boiled or otherwise preserved. 

It was at the end of Lent, during Easter that the consumption of eggs resumed after the strict Lenten fast. Eggs were thus a mainstay of Easter meals, and a prized Easter gift for children and servants. And this is probably the reason why eggs came to be associated with Easter.

Many traditions and practices have formed around Easter eggs. In Europe an egg was hung on New Year trees, on Maypoles, and on St. John's trees in midsummer. Indeed, all were of one accord in using the egg as a symbol of the regenerative forces of nature. Later during the Christian period, it was believed that eggs laid on Good Friday, if kept for a hundred years, would have their yolks turn to diamond. If Good Friday eggs were cooked on Easter they would promote the fertility of the trees and crops and protect against sudden deaths. And, if you would find two yolks in an Easter egg, be sure, you're going to be rich soon. That's what they believed!

An Orthodox tradition related with Easter celebrations is the presenting of red colored eggs to friends while giving Easter greetings. According to a History channel documentary about Mary Magdalene and her role in Christianity, the custom derives from a biblical event. After the Ascension of Christ, Mary supposedly went to the Emperor of Rome and greeted him with "Christ is risen", whereupon he stated, "Christ has not risen no more than that egg is red" (pointing to an egg on his table). After making this statement it is said the egg immediately turned blood red.[citation needed] She then began preaching Christianity to him. The egg is symbolic of the grave and life renewed by breaking out of it. The red symbolizes the blood of Christ redeeming the world, represented by the egg, and our regeneration through the bloodshed for us by Christ. The egg itself is a symbol of the Resurrection while being dormant it contains a new life sealed within it.

The coloring of eggs is a established art, and eggs are often dyed, painted, and otherwise decorated. Eggs were also used in various holiday games: parents would hide eggs for children to find, and children would roll eggs down hills. These practices live on in Easter egg hunts and egg rolls. The most famous egg roll takes place on the White House lawn every year.  

P.S.

Contrary to popular belief, Easter does not represent the “historical” crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In reality, the gospel tale reflects the annual “crossification” of the sun through the vernal equinox (Spring), at which time the sun is “resurrected,” as the day begins to become longer than the night. 

Rather than being a “Christian” holiday, Easter celebrations date back into remotest antiquity and are found around the world, as the blossoming of spring did not escape the notice of the ancients, who revered this life-renewing time of the year, when winter had passed and the sun was “born again.” The “Pagan” Easter is also the Passover, and Jesus Christ represents not only the sun but also the Passover Lamb ritually sacrificed every year by a number of cultures, including the Egyptians, possibly as early as 4,000 years ago and continuing to this day in some places.


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