Some of the questions you may have had (or not) about Easter
by Alexander Quebec
Easter is this coming Sunday, and for some of you, that means getting together with the family to enjoy a delicious ham while snacking on candy eggs and marshmallow peeps (for those of you who actually can tolerate them in the first place). Since this holiday is filled with lots of confusing traditions and customs, we’re here to help sort them out for you, starting with Easter’s usual main course.
Why’s Ham so popular on Easter?
Simply put, it was a matter of timing and convenience.
Pigs were usually slaughtered around the fall, then cured and smoked for the winter season. Right around spring time, they would be ready to be served. It is said that pigs slaughtered around fall taste the best due to their diet of acorns and insect free grass. Pigs were also large enough to serve to families during the springtime celebrations for Easter that would be going on. This practice appears to have carried over from Europe and into the colonies of North America.
You might also see many families serve lamb instead as sheep usually give birth around Springtime. Lamb is also served during the celebration of Passover, which generally happens around the same time as Easter, and might even be observed by some Christians. For Jews who keep Kosher, pork would be a no no as it is forbidden, it is likely that Jesus’ last meal before being sacrificed would’ve been lamb. Lamb is served per tradition during the Passover Seder, in addition to several other food items that bear significant meaning during the meal, including a boiled egg for each guest.
While we’re on the subject of eggs…
What’s the deal with eggs during Easter?
Eggs carry symbolic importance during Easter, from both a Pre-Christian and a Christian perspective.
Many religions and cultures consider eggs a representation of new life and a new beginning. For example, the first recordings of decorating eggs for springtime comes from the Persian celebration of Nowruz, marking the first day of the spring equinox. To this day, Persian families will sometimes display a set of eggs on the haft seen table, as well as other items thought to bring luck to the new year.
The Christian church, however, also started the Easter egg tradition with Christians living in the Middle East. Eggs used to be painted red to symbolize the blood of Jesus being spilled. Another symbolization include Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb. The practice we’re familiar with, however, didn’t come about until the 13th century when eggs, a food forbidden during the Lenten season, were decorated and Eaten to commemorate the end of the season.
So why does a bunny lay them? Since ancient times, the rabbit was seen as a symbol of fertility among many Norther Europeans, since rabbits typically give birth to large liters of bunnies . It was in the 1800’s when German Immigrants brought the tradition of the Easter bunny over to America, and thus the tradition spread.
Today, in addition to actual chicken eggs, many parents give their children chocolate or plastic eggs filled with candy. Egg hunting and rolling are also cherished Easter activities for the children of many families and even the White House. On a related note, The Cadbury Egg,another love it/hate it type of candy, is also only available during the Easter season.
On that note, this brings us to our last question
Who thought Peeps were a good idea?
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Peeps are an Easter tradition.
In 1953, Sam Born of the Just Born candy company acquired the Rodda Candy company, which he then debuted the mass produced, yellow marshmallow confections in the shape of little chicks. The first peeps were made in white, pink and yellow. This was followed by other seasonal colors as well as Bunny Rabbit Peeps 20 years later.
Seemingly indestructible, as a study from Emory University has concluded (jokingly of course), Peeps can withstand almost any substance, except for Sulfuric acid. There are also Peep eating contests around the USA, and one popular TV show even had one as a bet between two characters. Either way, it doesn’t help that most people have a ton of peeps left over after Easter is done, but here’s a link to help you get rid of them.
So there you have it folks, some of the mysteries of Easter solved for you. Did you have any other questions about Easter for us? Leave them in the comments below.
Photo Credits: Twinversity.com, Takepart.com, glutenfreefluten.com.