Holy Week Wishes

It’s Holy Week. I won’t be doing much online until April 2. Until then, here’s some Easter trivia from Catholic.org.

Happy Easter

  • The ancient Greeks thought rabbits could reproduce as virgins. Such a belief persisted until early medieval times when the rabbit became associated with the Virgin Mary, who we know became pregnant without knowing man.
  • During the medieval period, rabbits began appearing in illuminated manuscripts and paintings where the Virgin Mary was depicted, serving as an allegorical illustration of her virginity.
  • The Easter Bunny was first popularized as a symbol of the season by the German Protestants. It is likely they were the ones to invent the myth of the Easter Bunny for their children. Even in earliest folklore, the Easter Bunny came as a judge, hiding decorated eggs for well-behaved children.
  • The Easter Bunny followed German immigrants to the American colonies in the 18th century and the folklore spread across the United States.
  • The notion that the Easter Bunny is a pagan symbol developed in the 19th century. In 1835, Jacob Grimm, the popular collector of fairy tales, suggested that the Easter Bunny came from primitive German pagan traditions. Once Grimm started the rumor, it began to spread, refined to suggest the Easter Bunny comes from the Saxon Goddess Eostre.
  • There is no direct evidence of a pagan correlation. The first intimation of a connection arose from Jacob Grimm, and although he was a folklorist, he had no hard evidence other than his own speculation.
  • Conversely, there is considerable documentation that the rabbit was once associated with virginity, the Virgin Mary, and with the season itself, in a Christian context.
  • The egg has long been seen as a symbol of fertility and life. This view is virtually universal and ancient. As such, eggs have been important symbols in other religious traditions, and not just in Christianity.
  • The Easter egg as a symbol of the season dates back to Medieval Europe and the Lenten practices of that time. Peasants became a sort of primitive middle-class in medieval society. As such, they had to fend for themselves, but often tended small herds or flocks which could include chickens, which were a popular source of protein for medieval people. This left eggs as a ready source of protein for both peasants and humble serfs.
  • Lenten observations of the medieval period were more strict than they are today. Specifically, people refrained from all meat and dairy products during the entire 40 days of Lent, and this included eggs. As a result, many eggs were lost during the early part of the season.
  • Towards the end of Lent however, eggs could be harvested and hard-boiled to preserve them long enough to keep until Easter. On Easter, Lenten fasts would be broken and the most common treat was usually an egg. As a result, the egg became a symbol of the holiday for the common people.
  • The symbolism of the egg as a sign of new life would not have been lost on Medieval people. In fact, as the practice of taking eggs for food was stopped during Lent, the season was likely a time when eggs were allowed to be fertilized and hatched, increasing the size of flocks. And Easter would also be a good time to cull the older, less producing hens from the flock and taking their meat.
  • The practice of painting and hunting the eggs developed much later. There is today an extensive mythology surrounding egg painting and hunting and other practices associated with the eggs. Suffice to say,  such traditions are highly varied across cultures.

 

Wishing Everyone a
Blessed Holy Week
and a
Happy Easter

24 thoughts on “Holy Week Wishes

  1. A very interesting post, Staci. I always enjoy learning where customs originate and what, if any, connection they may have with world religions. Some of this, I’d heard before, but most of it was new to me. Thanks! And I hope you have a blessed week filled with family, traditions both religious and otherwise, and love. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always wondered about the origins of the Easter Bunny. Thanks for sharing the info. Learning how eggs became associated with the holiday was especially interesting.
    I hope you have a blessed Holy Week and a blessed Easter, Staci.

    Liked by 1 person

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