Easter symbols (Light, Paschal lamb, Bells, Rabbit, etc.)
A festival of light, Easter is celebrated after the Vernal Equinox on the Sunday which comes after the first full moon of springtime. It marks the end of the Winter Solstice and the point at which there is more daylight than night-time.
Light is a very important symbol of Easter for Christians, who celebrate Christ’s emergence from the darkness of the tomb with Easter fires and candle-lit processions.
The Paschal lamb
Synonymous with innocence and obedience, lamb is eaten by Christians at Easter in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice, "the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world", who died to save mankind from sin. This sacrifice is prefigured in the Old Testament by the offering made by Abraham at God’s request.
According to the Bible, Abraham was tested by God, who asked him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Abraham accepted, proving he was ready to submit to God’s will, but he was stopped by God from carrying out this sacrifice. Instead, God provided a ram as a replacement sacrifice.
Abraham about to sacrifice his son Isaac (engraving by Gustave Dore)
Massacre of the first-born by the destroying angel (engraving by Gustave Dore)
The Jewish festival, "Pesach", which means "Pass over", commemorates the freeing of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt and the entry of the Jewish people into the promised land after the presentation of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. In this Jewish festival, the lamb symbolizes the crossing of the Red Sea and the birth of the children of Israel.
One of the ten plagues that God inflicted on Egypt was the sending of the destroying angel to kill the first-born of all the Egyptians. The Jews marked the doorposts of their homes with lamb’s blood so that the angel would recognize them and spare them from judgement, thus protecting their children from extermination.
In Islam, the lamb is also an important symbol. The festival of Eid-al-Adha (the festival of the sacrifice), commemorates the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim in the Coran) to sacrifice his son to Allah, who spared him in exchange for an "offering of great value". For Muslims, this offering consists of maintaining the tradition of the sacrifice of a lamb (a young sheep which has been weaned) on the tenth day of the holy month "Dhu-al-hijjah" (the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar).
Whether made from bronze or chocolate, bells sound the beginning and the end of Easter.
They accompany the Gloria during the Maundy Thursday service and then remain silent until Easter Saturday in homage to Christ’s death on the cross.
They apparently make the most of these few days to head off to Rome. On their way back, they scatter sweets in gardens as they go. On Easter Sunday, they ring out a peal to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.
The bells aren’t alone in scattering sweets and chocolates in local gardens. Hares or rabbits are seen as Easter messengers in some countries (Germany, the United States).
Hares have been a symbol of fertility since ancient times. Their association with Easter began in the 18th century.
Although in Germany, the ‘Easter Hare’ is still a feature, in most countries the hare has been replaced by the Easter Rabbit.
Daisies signal the return of spring. This is probably why it is seen as an Easter flower.
It blooms throughout almost all the year, but it is much more noticeable between the months of March and October, depending on your geographical location.
Christians also associate the white lily with Easter. According to legend, the white lily first grew from a drop of milk fallen from the breast of the goddess of marriage. It is a symbol of purity and innocence. In Christianity, it commemorates Christ’s resurrection.
The lily, which was beautiful but very proud, bowed for the first time before Jesus Christ crucified. It is said that since this day, the lily bows its head as a sign of respect towards Christ.
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