Easter, as frequently celebrated today, is a combination of three traditions - Christian, Hebrew, and pagan.
For many, Easter commemorates the day Jesus arose from the dead after being crucified when he came to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover This feast was a Hebrew tradition in memory of the Exodus from Egypt.
According to pagan beliefs, this was the time of year for celebrating nature's renewal after the winter. The word "Easter" itself is thought to have been derived from Eostre, the name for the goddess whose festival was celebrated in March, at the time of the vernal equinox.
Easter customs vary throughout the world with each country having its own distinctive traditions. Also, eggs and bunnies enter into many of the Easter celebrations which are believed to have originated with the pagan tradition of new life and growing things.
A Spanish festival commemorated the resurrection with colorful fireworks and booming canons. Judas images often were shot at by the soldiers.
Other Easter Customs
Many Greeks would buy Easter candles and colored eggs for Good Friday. Then on Easter, the traditional lamb was served for dinner.
Sometimes solemn processions wound through the streets with the paraders carrying lighted candles and holy pictures.
A Bavarian custom was the fashioning of little crosses to be set up in the fields. Easter parades also were traditional and children often rolled Easter eggs downhill.
For a long time, the custom in Tyrol was for musicians to tour every valley, singing the Easter hymns as they went. The villagers joined in when the singers passed, and after dark the villagers would light the way with torches.
Mary Emma Allen writes children's stories and authors books, in addition to newspaper and magazine columns, and writes for the e-zine, "The Oasis". She also teaches workshops for children and teachers who encourage children to write.
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