Have you ever wondered why an egg bearing rabbit is the most popular symbol of one of Christianity’s most holy feast days? Rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are ancient spring symbols of fertility and new life. The Easter bunny was introduced to America in the 1700s by German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and told stories of a hare (osterhase) that brought brightly colored eggs in the spring. The nests their children originally made to receive the eggs eventually were replaced by baskets as the custom of Easter egg hunts spread across the country. Children often left carrots out in case the Easter bunny was hungry.
The egg, another ancient symbol of new life, has long been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. Egg decoration goes back at least to the 13th century when, by some accounts, eggs, a forbidden food during Lent, would be decorated and eaten on Easter to mark the end of the period of fasting and penance. Christians are taught that eggs represent resurrection, the emergence of Jesus from the tomb, and the Egg Roll, a race in which children push decorated hard boiled eggs across a lawn, is symbolic of rolling away the stone that blocked Jesus’ tomb (the first White House egg roll occurred in 1878, when Rutherford B. Hayes was President). Egg shaped candy, both chocolate and the ubiquitous jelly bean, is traditional Easter fare; the National Confectioners Association asserts that over 16 billion jelly beans are made for Easter in the United States each year.
Lambs also have ancient associations with spring and are a significant symbol of Easter. The Old Testament describes lambs as a traditional sacrifice during Jewish Passover, a practice referred to (Isaiah 53:10) as a “guilt offering” made as restitution for sins. In the Old Testament (Genesis 22) God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son and Abraham dutifully made preparations. When God saw that Abraham would obey, he told him to stop, and Abraham sacrificed a lamb instead. John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The lamb became, in turn, symbolic of the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross for the sins of mankind. The Pope traditionally is served roasted lamb on Easter, and it is the centerpiece of Easter feasts for Christians world-wide.
MENU: EASTER LUNCH
|Mushroom stuffed eggs|
|Spinach dip with baby carrots|
|Green pea soup with ham and mint|
|Gigot a la moutarde|
|Roasted jumbo asparagus with lemon|
|Bibb lettuce, mint and watercress salad with Sherry vinaigrette|
|Torta di carota|
Prosecco or cava
Coffee and tea