Image Credit: Victor Larracuente
The name Easter comes from Eostre, an ancient Anglo-Saxon goddess, originally of the dawn. In pagan times an annual spring festival was held in her honour.
Easter is now celebrated (in the words of the Book of Common Prayer) on the first Sunday after the full moon which happens on or after March 21, the Spring Equinox. Therefore it can occur on any Sunday from March 22nd through to April 25th.
In medieval times a festival of egg throwing was held in church, during which the priest would throw a hard-boiled egg to one of the choirboys. It was then tossed from one choirboy to the next and whoever held the egg when the clock struck 12 was the winner and retained the egg.
Easter Bonnets are a throw back to the days when the people denied themselves the pleasure of wearing finery for the duration of Lent. By tradition, it was obligatory (or at least lucky) for churchgoers to wear some bright new piece of clothing - at least an Easter bonnet, if not a complete new outfit.
Image Credit: Claudiu Claude
The traditional act of painting eggs is called Pysanka.
The custom of giving eggs at Easter time has been traced back to Egyptians, Persians, Gauls, Greeks and Romans, to whom the egg was a symbol of life.
Image Credit: Alison Taylor
The most famous decorated Easter eggs were those made by the well-known goldsmith, Peter Carl Faberge. In 1883 the Russian Czar, Alexander, commissioned Faberge to make a special Easter gift for his wife, the Empress Marie. The first Faberge egg was an egg within an egg. It had an outside shell of platinum and enameled white which opened to reveal a smaller gold egg. The smaller egg, in turn, opened to display a golden chicken and a jeweled replica of the Imperial crown. This special Faberge egg so delighted the Czarina that the Czar promptly ordered the Faberge firm to design further eggs to be delivered every Easter. In later years Nicholas II, Alexander's son, continued the custom. Fifty-seven eggs were made in all.
In 1878 President Hayes and his wife Lucy officially opened the White House grounds to the children of the area for egg rolling on Easter Monday. The event has been held on the South Lawn ever since, except during World War I and World War II. During the war years the Easter Egg Roll was held at the National Zoo, and other Washington locations.
The Guinness Book of Records holder for the largest Easter egg ever made is the Belgian chocolate producer Guylian who made the chocolate egg with at least 50.000 bars on behalf of the city of St. Niklaas. The egg measured 8.32 metres high . Twenty-six craftsman worked altogether 525 hours to build the egg. They needed 1950 kg of chocolates.
Image Credit: Jacqui O'Brien
We promised you some bad ones....
What is the difference between a crazy bunny and a counterfeit banknote?
One is Bad Money and the other is a Mad Bunny!
Why did the Easter egg hide?
He was a Little Chicken!
What do you get when you cross a bunny with an onion?
What did the bunny want to do when he grew up?
Join the Hare Force.
What does a bunny use when it goes swimming?
What did the grey rabbit say to the blue rabbit?
What do you get when you pour hot water down a rabbit hole?
A Hot Cross Bunny.
How does the Easter Bunny say Happy Easter?
© Alison Berry 2006
About the Author: Alison Berry is the mother of three children.