Happy first day of Spring! Today it’s officially Spring, which means Easter is just around the corner. It also means pine trees will start sprouting crosses on their tops. It’s true and it’s an Easter lore I’m learning about for the first time this year.
I’m not sure how I never knew this story, especially since I grew up in the Rocky Mountains where there are many pine trees, but it was news to me when I came upon it. And I loved it.
Apparently this time of year pine trees start their new growth. The tallest branch shoots forth and upward and forms the shape of a cross. If you look up and look around at certain pine trees you might see shoots developing making a familiar shape. The yellow shoots first form vertically followed by side buds, which eventually form branches and new growths that resemble a cross. They start slow and small, but as the days get closer to Easter, the tallest shoots branch off and form the familiar Christian symbol leading some believers to say “even trees know it’s Easter!”
The fact that this happens around the Easter season is likely pure coincidence, but who doesn’t love a wonderful legend? The crosses are more prominent and more readily seen on Loblolly Pines in the southern U.S. and on Ponderosa Pines in the west but can also be found on a variety of other pines as well.
I love this story and loved learning it just this year, and it reminded me of other Easter traditions that many either take for granted or don’t truly understanding the meanings behind them.
Take for instance the Easter Rabbit. Much like Santa Claus and Christmas, rabbits have nothing to do with the real meaning of Easter, Jesus’ resurrection, but like other Easter favorites they do represent “new life,” which is what Easter is all about.
As I mentioned above, Easter always occurs in spring and spring is when the weather gets warmer, flowers start to bloom, and animals come out of hiding after a long winter of hibernation. Lots of other animals like rabbits are born in the spring, which again brings up “new life.”
So, what about Easter eggs? Well, lots of animals like birds and lizards are born from eggs and many of them are born in the spring reminding us of new life once again. And if you think about it, Jelly Beans (one of my favorite candies) are oval-shaped just like eggs so it’s no coincidence they are an Easter basket tradition.
Jelly Beans are one of my favorite candies and another Easter custom is my favorite flower: the Easter Lily. Every year I buy myself one and even a grocery store variety is sufficient in that any lily smells divine and fills a room with its own heaven-sent scent. I can smell their fragrance just looking at the picture above. But why do we only enjoy them at Easter?
For many, the trumpet-shaped white blooms symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope, and life…the very spiritual essences of Easter. They’re mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, referenced several times in the Song of Solomon as well as in the Sermon on the Mount. Their religious tie-in goes further however.
Often called “white-robed apostles of hope,” lilies were said to be found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s agony. Tradition has it beautiful white lilies sprung up where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the ground in His final hours. Today churches commemorate this belief by filling altars and aisles with Easter Lilies. Lilies have also played significant roles in tales concerning motherhood and purity, making them the fitting symbol of the greater meaning of Easter. They embody joy and life and serve as beautiful reminders that Easter is truly a time of rejoicing and celebrating.
Lastly, how exactly did ham get to be the meat of choice at our Easter tables? Tradition has it that hogs were slaughtered in the fall but due to lack of electric refrigeration; any meat that wasn’t eaten fresh in the cold months was cured so it would keep longer and be edible in the spring. It just so happened that, because curing take a while, the first hams were ready right around Easter. Thankfully today we have the finest of refrigeration so hams of all sorts can be found year ‘round. Still, whether honey-baked or smoked, chances are ham will be on many an Easter table.
So there you have it, all things Easter wrapped up nicely in a virtual basket of info. I hope you learned something, liked it, and have an Easter season filled with hope, love, and lots of Jelly Beans!