An Easter Message from ALSM’s President & CEO
As we all know, Easter is one of the most important celebrations in the Christian calendar. It is a holiday that celebrates the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. After his crucifixion, death, and burial, three days later, He rose from the grave. He conquered death and redeemed us from sin.
As we also know, there are other symbols and traditions related to the celebration of Easter. The color purple at Easter had significance in ancient society. In antiquity, purple dye was a prized commodity because of how difficult it was to obtain. The color purple became a mark of royalty and sovereignty. The Roman soldiers who tortured Jesus during his passion were well aware of the imperial symbolism behind the color purple. This is the reason in mocking Jesus before his crucifixion, the soldiers dressed Jesus in a purple robe and put a crown of thorns on His head, proceeding then to beat him and call him the king of the Jews.
In the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Jesus. They are then blessed and distributed to congregants. Now they’re mostly just a fun way to celebrate the springtime season.
Now, for some fun trivia from an article in House Beautiful related to Easter:
- Most adults prefer milk chocolate to dark;
- Good Friday is only honored in some states. Only 12 of the 50 states consider the Friday before Easter as an official holiday;
- Giving eggs is a symbol of “rebirth” in many cultures. Eggs symbolize new life, fertility, and rebirth;
- Americans will consume more than 16 million jelly beans around Easter time;
- Pretzels are a symbol of Easter because they look like arms crossed in prayer;
- The Easter bunny did not always lay eggs. Again, the bunny’s origin is from the Anglo-Saxon festival of Eastre, which featured a spring goddess who used the rabbit to represent fertility. It was not until the Germans settled in PA in the 1700s that the tradition of the bunny that lays eggs came to the states;
- Buying a new Easter outfit stems from a superstition. In the mid-1800s in New York, people believed that buying new clothes to wear on Easter would bring them good luck for the rest of the year;
- The world’s largest chocolate Easter egg was made in Italy in April 2011. It measured 34 feet and 1.05 inches in length and weighed approximately 15,873 pounds;
- Easter bonnets are a relatively new concept in the United States. Back in 1933, composer Irving Berlin introduced the Easter bonnet into American pop culture with his ballad, “Easter Parade”;
- Decorating eggs comes from a Ukrainian tradition. The ornate eggs were called pysankas, which were made by using wax and dyes. It was not until Ukrainian immigrants came to the United States that the colorful custom caught on;
- During medieval times, a very different game was played with eggs. The priest would throw a hard-boiled egg to one of the choir boys. The boy would continue to toss it to his peers, and whoever was holding the egg when the clock struck 12 was the winner and got to keep it;
- The first White House Easter Egg Roll was in 1878;
- Easter is the second biggest candy-consuming holiday. It comes in second only to Halloween;
- It used to take more than a day to make a candy Peep. Approximately 27 hours it took back in 1953 because each Peep was handmade. Today, the process takes just six minutes;
- Americans eat more than 600 million Peeps during Easter. Peeps are the most popular non-chocolate Easter candy. The Bethlehem, PA, factory makes a billion Peeps a year and four million a day;
- Most Americans bite off the ears of a chocolate bunny first.
Well, so much for trivia, but I am glad we have fun activities at Easter. They do not rise to the level of joy at the Resurrection, but they reflect the renewal of nature and the energy of emerging from the gloom of late winter.
I wish you a happy Easter. Get those eggs boiling and the dye ready.
Patricia W. Savage