Waking up to a candy-filled basket and decorated eggs are just two of the many  things I look forward to each Easter morning. The exciting traditions, family time and religious celebrations make this holiday something to look forward to each year. Easter, which falls on a different date every year, either in March or April, surprisingly relies on the yearly moon schedule. If you’ve ever felt like Easter came way too soon or took forever to arrive, you’re not alone. 

Since Easter always occurs on the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon (or next full moon after the vernal equinox) for Catholics, it can come around any Sunday from March 22 to April 25. Despite being close to Passover, a Jewish holiday when Easter used to be celebrated, Emperor Constantine decided for Easter to occur on a Sunday. It is also notable that dates may vary for some variations of Christianity, notably for the Orthodox Church.

In the Christian faith, Easter represents the day when Jesus Christ rose from the dead, three days after his crucifixion. It also marks the end of the forty-day Lenten season, the day when Christians can go back to eating meat on Fridays and whatever else they gave up. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, the day when participants receive Palm Sunday ashes on their heads in the form of a cross, which occurs 46 days before Easter, including the six Sundays that don’t count as a part of Lent

However, beyond the religious aspects, Peeps marshmallows and chocolate bunnies indicate that there are traditions that were born with the commercialization of Easter. As a kid participating in Lent, I always found myself giving up chocolate or candies, a common trend amongst many. Easter baskets originated when early Christians requested that their celebratory meals get blessed in the Church, carried in baskets. Found in these baskets nowadays are candies, post-Lenten goodies that people can finally enjoy! 

The Easter Bunny, typically appearing in a large fuzzy costume, surprisingly stems from a pagan spring festival story about Eostre, “the pagan goddess of fertility and spring.” The fable consists of this goddess turning a freezing bird into an egg-laying bunny. To honor Eostre, the bunny decorated its eggs, explaining another common tradition of egg dyeing.

So why do we hunt Easter eggs? Eggs hold symbolic significance during Lent as they represent resurrection and were often given as gifts in medieval Lenten times. Rabbits have been “associated with fertility” relating to the Virgin Mary. Martin Luther also reportedly held Easter egg hunts in which women and children searched for hidden eggs since women found Jesus’ empty tomb, importantly, while Mary Magdalene was holding an egg. 

This year Easter will occur on April 17, and I can’t wait to spend the time surrounded by family, munching on chocolate eggs. Hopefully, this Easter break will remind us that spring is in the air, just as much as finals season is around the corner!

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