5 interesting things to know about Easter

Mar 26, 2016 03.00PM |
 

by Elias Wee

THIS year, Easter falls on Sunday, March 27. Christians believe that Jesus was crucified on the cross and buried in a tomb, and came back to life on the third day. It is the Christian tradition to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.

Apart from the religious importance of Easter, it is also a popular secular holiday. Here are five things you may not know about Easter:

1. The Easter bunny is not the only animal associated with Easter
You have probably heard of Easter bunnies. While the Bible makes no reference to them, these egg-laying hares are closely associated with the modern myth of Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility. But it isn’t the only Easter animal. In Switzerland, the tradition there is for the cuckoo to bring Easter eggs in a basket. So in the weeks leading up to Easter, in addition to coloured eggs and Easter cakes, chocolate cuckoos are sold in shops too. There is also an old German tradition of the Easter fox. According to this tradition, German children, on the Saturday before Easter Sunday, make nests of moss and hay in preparation for the Easter fox.

2. The Easter Island statues could possibly have “walked”
Three archeologists have hypothesised that the multi-ton Easter Island statues, Moai, could have been made to “walk” to their current locations. They claimed that the Moai were carved from rock and made to stand in an upright manner, with the centre of mass slightly forward. In an experiment, the academics demonstrated that eighteen people, using ropes attached to a replica Moai’s head, were able to rock it from side to side, so that it made small steps forward. The islanders’ Rapa Nui language even has a term for this movement: neke-neke, which means “walking without legs”.

3. Easter is the oldest holiday for Christians
Easter and Christmas are popular Christian holidays, celebrated in both religious and secular ways. The year AD 336 was the first recorded Christmas celebration. It took place during the reign of the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine. But the first recorded Easter celebrations began even earlier, in the second century AD. By this time, the Roman church adopted an annual Easter feast.

4. In Russia, Easter eggs have been encrusted with jewels
Peter Carl Faberge, a Russian jeweller, created jewelled Easter eggs for the Russian imperial family for 32 years. The creation of these eggs began in 1885 when the emperor, Alexander III, wanted to present a special gift to his wife. At first, the design was heavily supervised. But by 1887, Faberge was only given one prerequisite: each year’s Easter egg needed to contain a special surprise. Over the years, the surprises have included a miniature coronation carriage, ivory elephant and mechanical swan. You may think of this as an upsized Kinder Surprise, bejewelled for Russian royals.

5. Easter in 2018 will fall on April Fool’s Day
In 2018, Easter will fall on the first day of April. It does not occur on the same date every year. So how is the date for Easter decided? In AD 325, the Council of Nicaea – a group of Christian Bishops and leaders convened – debated, among other things, the proper date to celebrate Easter. It was determined that Easter was to fall on the first Sunday after the paschal full moon. This is the full moon that falls on or after the first day of spring – the idea being that the first day of spring will have equal hours of daylight and darkness.

 

Featured image Polish pisanki – Easter eggs by Flickr user Jarosław PocztarskiCC BY 2.0

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