The Easter bunny distributing colorful eggs is one of the most popular symbols of Easter. There are quite a number of reasons for a rabbit to be so closely associated with what is predominantly a Christian celebration.
The hare is an ancient Pagan symbol of fertility. Easter, the most important moveable feast in the Christian calendar is in many ways a celebration of life, more specifically rebirth. The resurrection of Jesus Christ has been, by many theorists, compared to the onset of spring. It is not unnatural, given that Easter is celebrated all around the world around March Equinox, when winter is leaving and life is blooming.
The burrow of the rabbit signifies the tomb of Christ from which he rises, like the bunny appears to frolic and lend to life again with the arrival of spring time.
Again, the hare symbolizes the moon, which plays a central role in Easter. The date of Easter depends on the lunar cycle and is observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the March Equinox.
Traditionally, during Easter, children used to make nests for rabbits in hats or paper baskets and put them out for rabbits to find. Nests filled with colorful eggs created a wonderful imagery which is still vibrant and lends to the spirit of Easter.
It is also common for people to eat chocolate bunnies on Easter Sunday as a part of the festivity.Decorated Easter Eggs
Eggs have always been revered as a symbol of life. Ancient cultures, like that of the Hindus, Persians, Egyptians and Phoenicians, believed that our world originated from a large egg. During spring time, most ancient cultures celebrated spring festivals by gifting and eating dyed eggs. Even in folklore, eggs are sacred.
Like most other symbols of Easter, decorated eggs came down from pre-Christian traditions. It is not difficult to understand why though. Easter, the festival remembering and celebrating the resurrection of Christ, coincides with the March Equinox, which is springtime in most parts of the world. Also, resurrection or rebirth has to primarily do with life.
The Easter egg symbolizes the tomb of Jesus from where he arose, in new light and new life.
Another possible reason for the egg to have become such an integral part of Easter can be connected to Lent. While observing Lent, many regions forbade the consumption of eggs. Since Easter succeeds Lent, eggs could well have been considered to be a delicacy owing to the prohibition.
Either way, Early Christians decided to include eggs while celebrating Easter. Initially, eggs were presented at the church to be blessed and sprinkled with holy water. Later, eggs were decorated with gold leaf and sent as gifts to the Royal family. Gradually, people began to dye eggs in bright colors like red (to signify life and the blood of Jesus) and even today, decorated Easter eggs remain an integral part of Easter celebrations.
Easter egg hunt is another custom which involves children hiding away decorated Easter eggs inside Easter bunny nests for other children to seek and find.Easter Lily
Madonna Lilies have since time immemorial stood as a symbol of purity, innocence, hope and grace. The Madonna lily has been patronized by artists and sculptures and often been used in reference to Mary. There are several conjectures on the relation between the white lily and Easter.
One of the parallels between the Resurrection of Christ and the Easter lily is the way the flower blooms. The bulb grows by water bodies, deep beneath the soil damp from water sprays. While there is no observable activity above the ground, the bulb grows hidden from sight and then one day, suddenly shoots up and blooms.
The imagery is akin to the manner in which Jesus rose from his tomb.
These days, the Bermuda lily has replaced the Madonna lily as the Easter lily since the former does not force well and is a temperamental flower which does not always bloom during Easter. Throughout regions celebrating Easter, one can find altars and houses adorned by the pristine Easter lily.Easter Parades
Easter Parades have been a part of tradition since mid-17th century. It was initiated by the elite class of the society who would stroll around the streets together in new attires and bonnets after attending Easter service in the local churches. New York City was one of the first cities in America to witness Easter Parade.
The popularity of the custom heightened gradually and by the middle of the 20th century, it reached its peak with the release of a film known as ‘Easter Parade’.
Although the procession has no direct link with Easter, it is considered among other symbols of Easter. Parades have always been a part of Christianity and even today, cities all across America witness Easter Parades of merry people wearing bright and beautiful clothes and hats.Palm Branches
When Christ arrived in Jerusalem, people welcomed him by waving palm branches at him. The remembrance of that significant event is carried forward to this day. Palm branches are counted among the symbols of Easter and images, candies and other goodies are made out to look like them during Easter season. The day Jesus reached Jerusalem is also known as the First Palm Sunday.The Lamb
The symbol of the lamb is strongly rooted in Christian belief. One of the most important symbols of Easter, the lamb signifies the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
This comes from the Jewish Passover, the event where every family sacrificed a lamb in good faith of their Lord. In the tale that followed, Jesus Christ laid down his life for all of humanity and hence, became the Passover Lamb.
The lamb has become a part of Easter symbols, as on the day of his resurrection, it reminds every one of the sacrifice He made.Dogwood
The dogwood is another important adoption for Easter. It is widely believed that the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified was made of the wood from a Dogwood Tree. Dogwood blooms during spring and is a living memory of the event which took place centuries ago.
For Christians, Dogwood is one of the most significant symbols of Easter In many ways, the tree symbolizes the crucifixion of Christ.
Chicks which hatch during springtime are also considered to be a symbol of Easter. Like Easter eggs, which are considered to signify the tomb of Christ, spring chicks coming out of the eggs resemble Jesus Christ coming out of his Tomb. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an allegory for rebirth and new life, which is aptly symbolized by spring chicks.Hot Cross Buns
Hot buns are a favorite item of Easter feast. Hot cross buns are created by placing the icing on top of the buns in the shape of a cross. These underline the spirit of remembrance of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on the cross.Easter Bonnet
The Easter Bonnet is also symbolic of new life. It was common for Christians to wear new clothes and new hats on Easter Sunday while they celebrated the new life of Jesus after his resurrection.
During the Easter Parade, women belonging to the upper crust of the society would show off their new clothes and different kinds of new hats in joyous spirit. The Easter Bonnet has now been deeply engrained in the festivities of Easter and become one of the major symbols of Easter.
Children often make new bonnets at school during their crafts sessions before Easter.
The butterfly is a strong Christian symbol of Easter. The entire life cycle of a butterfly can be viewed symbolically. The first phase of a butterfly’s life as a caterpillar resembles the life of Jesus Christ when he first walked on Earth. There were struggles, yet he kept serving his purpose in many ways without much support or regard. The cocoon resembles the crucifixion of Christ and his burial. The emergence of butterfly from the dark depths of the cocoon resembles the resurrection of Christ from his tomb in a new and glorified body.
This close resemblance makes the butterfly one of the most powerful symbols of Easter.Bonfires and Candles
Bonfires and candles dismantle darkness by being the medium of light. Similarly, Jesus Christ is looked upon as the medium of light that came to destroy the darkness of the world. Candles also symbolize hope, which is what Jesus Christ embodies for Christians.The Cross
Initially, the cross was looked upon as a symbol of suffering because Jesus had been crucified on a cross. Later, after his resurrection, Christians began to believe that the cross symbolized Christ’s victory over death. Constantine, during his rule made the cross the official symbol for Christianity.
As one of the symbols of Easter, the cross reminds of the victory and resurrection of Jesus Christ.