|Why celebrate Easter ?|
|Old Easter traditions|
From the very time of emigration from Egypt, (Exodus), - to remember this event - the Jews have celebrated Easter-time as one of their main religious feasts .
In the pre-christian times this was, in Europe, the time for a great feast to celebrate springtime.
Before the Reformation, when Catholisism ruled all of Europe, everybody had to fast for 40 days ahead of Easter, to memorate that Christ fasted for 40 days in the desert. After the Lutheran reformation generations still klung on to that tradition in Norway, until it at last faded away.
Christians celebrate Easter to honour the memory the death and resurrection of Christ. Communication was founded by Jesus, on Holy Thursday, during The Last Supper.
Easter was not widely celebrated in America until some time after the Civil War.
The Lamb is the oldest of the Easter symbols, and was originally offered as a gift to the Gods - and included slaughtering of the very best lamb. In Christian tradition the Easter lamb stands as a symbol of God sacrificing His son.
Eggs have long been a traditional symbol of springtime. In pre-Christian times eggs were the symbol of renewal of life and strenght. In springtime, (appr. about march 21st.) the hens start to produce eggs again, after a long and dark wintertime, and chickens are born this time of the year. In acient times the farmers dug eggs into their farmland in springtime - to achieve a good crop. During a long period of time, the old "Spring-feast" assimilated with Christian Easter celebraition. According to Christian tradition the egg is a symbol of the resurrection of Christ.
In ancient times the Easter-bunny was a symbol of fertility. The Germans brought the symbol of the Easter rabbit to America. It was widely ignored by other Christians until some time after the Civil War. To-day the Easter-bunny mainly has been adopted by the chocolate manufactures.
In medieval times Europeans belived in witches. It's documented that this belief was maintained in distant valleys in Norway up to the beginning of the 1900's. People thought that whiches went on their brew, for a feast with the devil, on special occasions. And Holy Thursday was one of these occations. Therefore, on this night it was essential to place a brew outside the door. If the local witch didn't find a brew, she would go for a horse, cow or goat instead.
It was the belief that the Cross was carved on Holy Thursday. Therefore, on this day nobody should use a knife or an axe. And women were not allowed to knit - because the knitting needles had a simliarity to the lanses they used to sitch Christ - and also the crown of thornes ha had to wear.
During Catholisism the Good Friday was a holy day and nothing should be performed. But according to old Norwegian traditions, it should be the day of sorrow and performing of the heaviest possible work. Somebody even put pebbles in their shoes to remember the suffering of Christ. Everything should be quiet, and children were not allowed to speak up or play. And everybody - children and adults - should wear old and raggy clothes.
In some places, not so very long ago, it was still the habit to lower the flag at half-mast on Good Friday, and then raise it on Easter Sunday. The church alter was covered with a piece of blue clothing for the 40 days of Lent.
Earlier on many people went up on a high mountain very early in the morning of Easter Sunday. They belived the sun to behave peculiar on this very morning. They hoped to see the sun dance in the sky, in joy of the rise of Christ.
The climat in Norway is very unpredictable. In old days it could easily destroy the harvest and cause severe hunger and sufferings in the year to come. Easter time were thought to be very predictive ; If the weather was frosty on the night before Easter Sunday and the following Sunday - it would stay frosty for a very long time. If it was raining on Easter Sunday, it would be a cold and wet Summer.
In Germany and Switzerland the Easter Bunny appeared as an Easter symbol in the early 1700s.
In the Netherlands chocolate-eggs are rare. The Easter Bunny hides coloured, hard boiled eggs, both in- and outdoors.
To colour or decorate Easter eggs is a very old tradition from the Orient. In East- and Central Europe decorating eggs has developed into a beautiful art. In countries like Tschekia, Slovakia and Polen, it's huge Easter contests in the art of decorating eggs.
In lots of countries it was earlier on a tradition for girls to present coloured eggs as an Easter gift for their boyfriend.
In Germany it's a tradition to eat green-coloured eggs on Holy Thursday - the day named "Gründonnerstag" in German language. ("green thursday")
In the early years of 1900 it was just as common to send Easter cards, as cards for Christmas is to-day. The cards were decorated with hens, chickens, eggs, Easter bunnies, children and spring flowers. This tradition has almost completely faded away.
It was a custom to light candles for 40 days, starting on Easter Sunday, to symbolise that Christ attended his diciples for 40 days after the resurrection.