Easter is probably the most important Christian holiday on the calendar because it commemorates Christ's resurrection from the dead. Like many other religious holidays, though, Easter has incorporated many traditions from pagan beliefs and pre-Christian rites of seasonal regeneration.
The word Easter has Indo-European roots and means dawn. This is a direct reference to the pagan goddess of dawn and new life. The egg, a symbol of Easter, is a sign of fertility which reflects ancient spring renewal rites and beliefs that have been absorbed into the Christian tradition. Even the Easter bunny who brings the eggs was the escort of the Germanic goddess Ostara, which had a holiday named after her that fell on the vernal equinox. This serves to underscore the pagan elements that still remain a part of this quintessential Christian holy day.
In the United States Easter is celebrated in several ways. On Easter morning children usually begin their day by looking for Easter eggs that the Easter bunny has hidden for them. Of course, most children know that the eggs were hidden by their parents and not the Easter bunny. In fact, many children help their parents color the Easter eggs knowing that soon they will be eating them as a snack on Easter day. Some cities have Easter egg hunts at the local parks.
Since Easter is always celebrated on Sunday, many people attend Sunrise Services at their local church. In fact, more people go to church on Easter Sunday than at any other time of the year. Sunrise services begin very early in the morning, usually right about the same time as when the sun begins to rise, and last until almost noon. After church families gather and have a big holiday feast.
Easter also marks the coming of spring. People are usually happy that winter is over, so parks are usually full of people who want to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. To learn more about Easter, follow the links below.