Why we eat lamb at Easter, the origin of the Easter bunny and other Easter traditions

Source Flickr Author pittigliani2005

WASHINGTON, April 20, 2014 — Many Easter traditions stem directly from Christian symbolism, dealing with Christ and the resurrection, while others come from pagan rites of Spring.

For Christians, Easter celebrates both the day Jesus rose from the dead and the end of the fast of Lent. Renewal and rebirth are major themes of Easter, and many of these traditions began before the birth of Christ. The prominence of the egg is a symbol of that rebirth. Likewise, the tradition of eating lamb on Easter probably comes from the availability of the first lamb of the season, which historically came to market around the time of Easter.

A lamb is a lucky omen. Centuries ago, people believed the devil could take the form of any animal except a lamb. The devil could not transform into a lamb because of its religious symbolism.

Eggs also are symbols of rebirth and rejuvenation, and historically were associated with Spring. Their association with Easter likely came from this affiliation. Additionally, early Christians were not allowed to eat eggs during Lent, so the end of Lent was celebrated by eating eggs.

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Eggs were decorated and exchanged as gifts before the birth of Christ, as early as 5000 BC. In China, children have received red eggs on their birthdays for thousands of years, and Persians have also exchanged decorated eggs as gifts. Central Europeans have a very long history of decorating Easter eggs, and two of the most elaborately decorated egg-types are Russian Faberge eggs and Ukrainian pysanky. In early history, eggs were part of spring festivals and were considered proof of the renewal of life.

In Yugoslavia, Easter eggs have the initials “XV” on them, meaning Christ is Risen. Under the Tsars, Russian Easters were elaborate celebrations and were far more important than Christmas. Germans remove the insides of the eggs and decorate only the shells, which they then hang on trees.

The Easter bunny does not seem to have any particular relationship to Christianity. Historically, it symbolized the arrival of spring. Rabbits are notoriously fertile, and Spring is a time of fertility.

Americans began celebrating the Easter Bunny around the 19th century, when the Pennsylvania Dutch continued the tradition of the Oschter Haws, or Easter Hare, who delivers eggs to good children. The tradition expanded rapidly, first throughout Pennsylvania and then to the entire United States.

The addition of the Easter egg hunts comes from the historic belief that finding eggs is lucky and will bring riches.

The association between candy and Easter appears to be relatively new, occurring in the 19th century. The introduction of factories and widespread availability of candy at that time likely contributed to this tradition. The famous marshmallow Peeps were introduced in 1953.

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Lisa M. Ruth
Lisa M. Ruth is Editor-in-Chief of CDN. In addition to her editing and leadership duties, she also writes on international events, intelligence, and other topics. She has worked with CDN as a journalist since 2009. Lisa is also President of CTC International Group, Inc., a research and analysis firm in South Florida, providing actionable intelligence to decisionmakers. She started her career at the CIA, where she won several distinguished awards for her service. She holds an MA in international relations from the University of Virginia, and a BA in international relations from George Mason University. She also serves as Chairman of the Board of Horses Healing Hearts, and is involved with several other charitable organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and AYSO.
  • PSCimo

    A VERY PC article on …”the origin of the Easter bunny and other Easter traditions.” MUCH More to it than told here. Do your own research people.

    • Nobody cares except for those who dont know how to enjoy themselves and get wrapped up in the irrelevance of whether todays Easter is Pagan in origin or more embellishment by many cultures over the centuries.

      The symbolism is the same as Spring is a rebirth/regeneration of the Earth, being resurrected from the cold dark and quiet fields.

      Since Gods creation of man his rotting corpses have been nourishing the planet.

      Hell, theres even a little bonus for the Liberals and Gerbil Warming freaks…



      Dont you hate it when someone says theres much more to the story and then tells you to find out what it is ?

      Why should anyone do a cursory tour in order to research a point or claim that you brought up ?

      You say its true, you prove it.

      I dont know where you’re from, but here in the States the Prosecution leveling claims and accusations must show proof.

      The innocent or not guilty are not required to run around disproving what you say is true.

      Here, try this….
      “the origin of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and other gastronomic demons.” Much more to it than told here.
      Do your own research people.

  • acmaurer

    No, we eat lamb because Jesus is the Lamb of God. In the Old Testament, lambs were sacrificed to atone for sin, beginning with Abraham. Jesus is the sacrificial lamb who died once for all.
    Abraham is asked by God to prepare to sacrifice his son, but in the end God does not require the sacrifice but rather provides a lamb. When it came time for the New Convenant, God did not spare his own Son.
    There is, as PSCimo says, much more to it.