Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Spells Out Beauty...

"Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life." 

~ S.D. Gordon

I remember when I was a little girl, I would wake up early on Easter morning and wander out into the living room to discover a new Easter bonnet, tights and dress to wear to church and an Easter basket filled with rabbit and egg shaped chocolates, marshmallow Peeps, and other tiny treats (one year my parents even surprised my brother and I with new bikes (mine had silver streamers coming out of each handle and a pink basket with Snoopy on the front)). After church we would go to my Grandparents' house (my dad's parents) where there would be more Easter baskets waiting for my cousins and me, an Easter egg hunt in the backyard, and a dinner of honey-baked ham, potatoes gratin, and buttered rolls. 

I'm older now and my parents no longer indulge my brother and me with Easter treats. I no longer get new white tights or a basket filled with my weight in sugar. But we still spend the holiday with my dad's side of the family (usually at my Aunt Connie and Uncle Jeff's home instead of at my Grandparents' home) and enjoy our traditional feast. 

This year, Cory and I were both a bit under the weather so we were unsure if we were going to be able to participate in this years celebration. But we decided to put on our happy faces and give it a go. I'm so glad we did. We got to help hide the candy-filled eggs and watch the mostly smiling faces of my younger cousins as they raced to find the treats that the "Easter Bunny" hid for them (sometimes there are tears and fights due to one finding more eggs than the other, which, in a way, is traditional too). My cousin Maya even made me a special gift (a pillow that she picked out the fabric for and sewed all by herself specifically for me!) that I will treasure always. She will also create drawings and then run up to her mom and ask,"Is this as good as Jade did at my age? (I made all the artwork that hangs in her room and in her brother's room and their mom and dad also display a few of my paintings in their dining room so she knows how much I love making art). My cousin Alex raced up to me as soon as I entered the house and gave me a massive hug and was delighted that we both were sporting a fauxhawk hairdo. It's such a blessing to know that my younger cousins look up to me and love me so much, especially since I don't get to see them nearly as much as I would like to. 

Of course, it's a holiday, so Cory and I baked cupcakes and dressed up (it has become part of our tradition that just him and I share).

The exact origins of this religious feast day's name are unknown. Some sources say that the word Easter is derived from Eostre (also know as Ostara), a Teutonic (Germanic peoples) goddess of spring and fertility. Other accounts trace Easter to the Latin term hebdomada alba, or white week, an ancient reference to Easter week and the white clothing donned by people who were baptized during that time. 

The Bible doesn't mention a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to children on Easter Sunday, nevertheless, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of the holiday. The exact origins of this mythical mammal are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. Some sources believe the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called "Osterhase" or "Oschter Haws." Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit's Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts in decorated baskets in lieu of nests.

Eggs have long been associated with Easter as a symbol of new life and Jesus' resurrection. Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century. One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lent, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration.

Did you know that Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in America after Halloween? Among the most popular sweet treats associated with this day are chocolate eggs, which date back to early 19th century Europe. Another egg-shaped candy, the jelly bean, became associated with Easter in the 1930s (the jelly bean's origins reportedly date all the way back to a Biblical-era concoction called a Turkish Delight). For the past decade, the top-selling non-chocolate Easter candy has been the marshmallow Peep (the original one was the yellow chick).

I hope you all had as lovely a holiday as I did. I leave you today with I a bit of Easter joy and inspiration from some of the contributors at Tiny Treasures (I hope you come take a look at the group to see all the rest of the fabulous Easter treasures).