Photo of a bunny in a meadow of flowersGlorious spring has finally arrived, and despite the rather mild winter us BC-ershave enjoyed these past several months, (while the lucky ones ice-climb Niagra Falls and dig themselves out of their snow-trapped houses), we can’t help but smile at the induction of spring.  Easter, a hallmark of the season, is just around the corner.  When many of us think of Easter we either think: fabulous, scrumptious brunch buffet, quality family time conversing around the table, pastel colors and festive spring designs or hunting for those notorious chocolate eggs. Oh yeah.  And then there’s the part about the resurrection of Christ.  Yes, there’s something very juxtaposing about this rather peculiar holiday.  For many, Easteris a non secular holiday – an excuse to eat more chocolate (as if we didn’t have get our fair share at Christmas and Valentine’s).  However for others, Easter is one of the most important of all religious holidays.  So how do we, as a society, reconcile the paradoxical idea of a large bunny hoping around delivering chocolate eggs in a made-to-look-like-bird-nest-basket during the night for all the little boys and girls,with the resurrection of Jesus Christ?  While most of us follow and accept these peculiar customs without a second thought, (as they are so well ingrained in our commercial culture), if we were to actually take a moment to think about why, we would find that ironically, bunnies and eggs enjoy a close symbolic relationship with Eastertide.

Traditionally rooted in the history of Christianity, Easter is the most significant feast in the Christian liturgical year and similar to Christmas, it commemorates a mythical figure that bears gifts to children the night before its particular holiday. The duplicitous symbolism of this date allows for many people from all walks of life to enjoy and partake in its celebration, making it uniquely versatile.  While early 16th century accounts from south-western Germany and the Holy Roman Empire detail the “Easter Hare” as a legendary being who gives eggs to young children, the contemporary version of the Easter Bunny that we all know and lovetoday did not emerge in North America until the 18th century, (a custom brought over by European settlers).  Symbols of the hare (or rabbit) and eggs centre around the Spring Equinox, representing a multilateral approach to fertility, whereby springtime brings forth new life, crops, food, flowers, greenery, longer days, and warmth after a barren winter, (epitomized by the notoriously reproducing rabbit and the egg).  Religiously speaking, the egg may directly correlate to the resurrection of Christ, as an egg encloses and conserves within it, new life -the yolk of our renewed salvation.  Moreover, whereas Easter marks the end of Lent, habitually, there would have been an abundance of eggs during this time for which to make use of. The Easter egg, as a popular symbol of new life, is commonly celebrated in folk traditions all across the Slavic nations.photo of an Easter basket with eggs and flowers in it

Although the origin of the conventional custom of coloring eggs is unknown, it has its bearings in both seasonal and religious sentiments. Natural dyes within flower petals and root vegetables, when boiled with eggs, will turn the shells various colours, (thus making this custom very seasonally-specific) while many Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church customarily dye their Easter eggs red, in acknowledgment of the blood of the sacrificed Christ. There exists numerous egg-decorating techniques worldwide, and the giving and sharing of decorated eggs varies from country to country, be it a representation of friendship, love, good wishes, unity and appreciation.

So whether you choose to celebrate Easter as a religious or secular holiday,Easter is nonetheless a great excuse to get together with friends and family and celebrate the start of this incredible season, (and eat some more chocolate!)