THIS long weekend, we explore the origins of Easter and the quirky and fun traditions and celebrations that have come about since then. Amrit Kaur, Jamie-Maree Shipton and other members of the Meld team share their stories.
Easter means a lot of different things to different people, but, to put it simply, it originates as a celebration of the resurrection of a man called Jesus Christ more than 2000 years ago.
For those who are familiar with the Christian story, Jesus was believed to be the son of God, the creator of the cosmos, who subjected himself to humanity.
In the short 30 years he lived, he sought to subvert the systems and structures of society that oppressed the poor, the weak, the common folk. He proclaimed the coming a “new kingdom” characterised by justice, spirituality, relationship and beauty.
Understandably, this stance against the Roman empire resulted in Jesus’ trial, torture, imprisonment and ultimately death by crucifixion. But if his death sentence was a symbol of the triumph of an indomitable world order, his defeat of the last remaining oppressor, death itself, was the sure sign that a new world order was indeed dawning.
That forms the Christian hope that followers of Jesus and his way remember especially during Easter, that God hasn’t given up on his creation, or forgotten about his promise to put the world to right.
However, the meaning and celebration of Easter has evolved over time, and with it, the spawning of other numerous traditions.
Bunnies and Easter eggs
Many people also now associate Easter with fluffy bunnies and chocolate eggs.
The customs connected with the Easter eggs have been adapted from ancient pagan practices related to spring rites. In other parts of the world, Easter falls during spring, and is regarded as a season of the earth’s renewal after a long, cold winter.
Eggs have long been a regarded as a symbol of fertility, rebirth, and the beginning, and likewise the Easter bunny a symbol of fertility because of the rapid reproduction rates of rabbits.
Hot cross buns
In many historically Christian countries, the buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of the crucifixion.
There are of course many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns, but one of them is perhaps worth taking up just for fun. Sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if you say as you break the bread, “Half for you and half for me, between us two shall goodwill be,”
In Bessieres, a small town in the south of France, all the town chefs gather on Easter Monday to create a giant omelette. If you’re wondering just how big this giant omelette works out to be, we’re talking 15,000 eggs in a steel pan spanning four metres in diameter and weighs a tonne!
Legend has it that French military leader, Napoleon Bonaparte had enjoyed his omelette so much, that he ordered the townspeople to gather all their eggs and prepare one for his entire army.
These days, the Easter tradition is to offer free portions of the omelette along with a piece of fresh bread to poor villagers. Oh and did we mention, it’s enough to feed a thousand people.
The Swiss partake in a game called Zwanzgerle during Easter.
The game is usually played between an adult and a child. The rules are that the adult has to try the break the child’s decorated egg with a 20 cent coin by throwing from a distance.
If they miss, the child gets money. But if the adult does manage to break it, they keep their money as well as the egg.
For the most part, parents do play the game with the intention of giving the child money, so it’s just a bit of fun for the entire family as parents fake really bad throws.
In Poland, Easter is also known as Lany Poniedzialek, which translates to Wet Monday.
The reason for this is that the locals partake in something called Śmigus-Dyngus Day (shmee-gooss din-gooss).
On this day, local boys try to drench girls with squirt guns and buckets of water. The belief is that if a girl is caught, she will be married within the following year.
And finally, in celebration of our cultural and religious diversity here at Meld, we share what Easter means to some of us, and invite you to share with us in the comments section below:
– Jess Lyons, Meld Magazine intern
-Karen Poh, Meld Magazine Editor-in-chief
– Daniel Frazzetto, Meld Magazine contributor