Here you can learn a little about the history of Easter and its importance to the Christian faith. Easter traditions that are commonly seen today, such as the Easter bunny and basket, have nothing to do with the religious significance of the date, but the origins of those traditions date back to the 1600's. So, I have included a little about those Easter traditions, too, as well as excerpts from some of the most famous Easter poems. Enjoy!
The most significant date to Christians is the day that Christ rose from the tomb. That is what we celebrate on Easter Sunday in sunrise services and mass. One of the Easter poems that demonstrate this religious significance was by George Herbert.
"Rise, heart, thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him may'st rise:"
By accepting and believing in Jesus Christ, Christians believe that they will not perish, but will enjoy everlasting life in Heaven. Easter traditions vary from church to church, with some observing Lent and many days of fasting.
German writings dating to the 1600 speak of the Easter Bunny bringing colored eggs to children that are "good", very similar to the legend of Kris Kringle, which also originated in Germany. Both legends were brought to America with the German settlers that arrived in the 1700s.
Many Easter poems have been written about springtime, bunnies, bonnets and baskets. Some became popular songs that were included in plays and movies. What do bunnies and eggs have to do with each other?
There is European folklore about hares that lay eggs in the springtime. This likely occurred because hares raised their young at ground level instead of in burrows and their nests look very similar to the nest of the plovers, a kind of bird. They were often found near to each other and the plover would abandon the nest to distract predators. People would see the hare and see a nest full of eggs nearby.
Easter Poems Old and New
George Herbert, mentioned above, wrote some of the earliest poetry concerning the holiday, dating back to the 1600s. Over the years, Robert Browning, Christina Rossetti and other famous poets have expressed their view of the day and the season. As I wrap up this brief Easter history, I'll leave you with a very short poem written by Joyce Kilmer that seems to say it all.
"The air is like a butterfly
With frail blue wings.
The happy earth looks at the sky
Photo courtesy of Craig Goodwin may not be copied, reproduced, or sold.