Up, down and around the county
The sun peaked through the clouds for a little while Saturday afternoon as I made my way through a crowd of kids at Bethel’s Easter Eggstravaganza at Encouraging Word Baptist Church.
I couldn’t help but smile in a moment of childhood nostalgia. They were all so happy — running around with painted faces and an array of Easter baskets full of colorful eggs and candy. They dyed and decorated eggs, jumped around on the blow-up slide and played musical chairs for their chance to win a cake.
Little ones slowly approached the Easter bunny only to hide behind their parents’ legs when the bunny looked their way. They took turns riding in a mini carriage pulled by two ponies and eagerly awaited the big event — the Easter egg hunt!
But with all the traditional Easter fun for kids, I always wonder how bunnies, chicks, eggs and candy got wrapped up in the story of the resurrection of Jesus. I searched online to find some sort of reasonable answer but the answer was clear — it has little to do with the Biblical meaning of Easter.
Thank the Germans
Ironically, the many furry mascots and spring icons associated with Easter have roots in pagan traditions. According to Discovery News, the Easter Bunny’s origin can be traced back to thirteenth century, pre-Christian Germany when people worshiped multiple gods and goddesses.
Feasts were held in honor of the spring equinox. The rabbit was the symbol for German deity Eostra because of the animal’s high reproduction rate. Sort of takes away from it doesn’t it? I also found articles claiming a well-known monk made up the myth of Eostra. I guess you’ll have to decide for yourself.
But the eggs can be tied to the Easter story. Spring symbolizes new life and rebirth, and eggs are an ancient symbol of fertility. According to History.com, Easter eggs represent Jesus’ resurrection, but the association was made much later when Roman Catholicism became the dominant religion in fifteenth century Germany and merged with the old pagan beliefs.
So how did we get the Easter egg hunt? Discovery News reported that the first Easter Bunny legend was documented in the 1500s and the first story about a rabbit laying eggs and hiding them in a garden was published in 1680. Those legends made it to North America in the 1700s when German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania. Soon it became a tradition to make nests for the rabbit to lay its eggs and eventually nests became baskets.
But all this explanation was the furthest thing from the children’s minds on Saturday. However, they did have to sit through the simplified version of the Easter story before they could disperse to search for eggs filled with candy and chocolate. I don’t think the ancient traditions interfere with the Christian faith — it’s still part of our history and is a story worth telling to children.
Find your own traditions
Families have their own Easter traditions, and if you don’t, plenty of Haywood events can be found on page XX. The VFW will hold an Easter egg hunt event from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday and if you hurry you can make it over to the Waynesville Elks Lodge for another egg hunt at 11:15 a.m. Saturday. The community-wide Easter egg hunt will be from noon-1 p.m. Saturday at the Maggie Valley United Methodist Church and Cruso UMC will hold its Easter event from 2-4 p.m. Saturday. If the kiddos aren’t egged out after all of that I don’t know what to tell you.
Bethel Baptist Church in Canton will be presenting “He Is,” an Easter drama at p.m. March 29-31 in honor of the holy holiday. See our community calendar at www.themountaineer.com for more Easter church events.
Lake Junaluska will host plenty of its own Easter events starting on Saturday with the Friends of the Lake 5K, Family Walk and Fun Run. Registration is from 7:30-8:30 a.m. — the 5K begins at 9:10 a.m. and the walkers starts at 10 a.m. The egg hunt and other activities are from 10-11:30 a.m. at the Harrell Center Auditorium.
Let’s hope all the snow is behind us and we can enjoy the joys of Easter weekend and hopefully more signs of spring.