Easter Sunday is one week away so as we enter Holy Week, I thought I’d share with you some fun tidbits on some fun and popular things we think of when we think of Easter. From the Easter Bunny to Jelly Beans and more, have fun learning and sharing the stories behind each of them.
Let’s hop right to it with the beloved Easter rabbit, AKA the Easter Bunny. 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 really all about.
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 animals, including rabbits, are born in the spring and this is likely why bunnies go hand-in-hand with Easter.
Pine Tree Crosses
Did you know pine trees have crosses? I learned this last year but surprisingly never knew this growing up even though I did so in the Rocky Mountains where there are many pine trees. Apparently pine trees start their new growth right about now and their tallest branch shoots forth and upward and forms the shape of a cross. The golden-hued 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.
So, what about Easter eggs? Well, eggs generally represent new life and lots of animals like birds and lizards are born from eggs and many of them are born in the spring. 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 are a favorite of mine, as is another Easter regular: 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?
Traditionally, 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 and are 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. The flowers have also played significant roles in tales concerning motherhood, making them fitting symbols of new life at Easter.
Lastly, how exactly did ham earn the right of meat of choice at many an Easter table? 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 takes a while, initial 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 enjoyed by many.
So there you have it, all things Easter wrapped up nicely in a virtual basket of info. I hope you learned something, enjoyed it, and have an Easter season filled with hope, love, and lots of Jelly Beans!