Hola, Ciao, and Salut Language Lovers,
Easter is nearly upon us again, and for a large number of people in the US that means one of two things: either a very important Christian celebration, or a very important chocolate celebration.
In the Christian tradition Easter is a time to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus. However there are many aspects of our current Easter celebrations that pre-date Christianity.
Some say that Easter got its name from Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of spring. Back then, at about this time of year, many people celebrated the end of winter and the new life brought about by the improving weather. With all the new shoots and leaves, as well as the birth of new animals and livestock, it’s easy to see how such a time could be one of celebration after the travails of winter.
It could be that this is also where chocolate lovers’ favorite Easter things originate from. Rabbits and Hares have long been a symbol of fertility and of new life. What better figure to characterize a time of rebirth than that of a Bunny.
And as for easter eggs, there are a couple of ideas about them too. The most obvious is the link between eggs and fertility; the egg as a symbol of new life was common across ancient cultures. Ancient Egyptians, Persians, and Romans all used eggs as a part of their spring festivals.
The second idea has a basis in Christianity.
Back in the Medieval Europe it was forbidden to eat eggs during Lent. As a result, eggs produced during that time were often boiled or preserved in some way, and became a very important part of the Easter meal once Lent had finished. So eggs became a key element of Easter.
In cultural terms, different things go on in different parts of the world at this time of year…
In Norway they have what they call Paaskekrim, or Easter-crime. No, it’s not an excuse to break the law, it’s the tradition of reading a crime novel or watching a detective show on TV over the Easter break.
In Corfu, Greece, on the other hand, there’s a tradition of throwing earthenware pots, pans, and other containers out of windows so they smash on the street. Apparently this stems from an old Venetian custom of throwing out all their old stuff in the spring time. A new spin on spring-cleaning?
In the town of Verges in Spain they celebrate easter with the traditional Dansa de la Mort or Dance of Death. In this slightly macabre custom people dress up like skeletons and dance through the streets. One for the night owls among us, this parade begins at midnight and lasts until the wee small hours of the morning.
While in Bermuda they take a more relaxed approach, celebrating Good Friday by flying kites. The story goes that the only way a Christian teacher could think of to explain how Jesus ascended to heaven to a group of children was to make a kite and fly it. Very nice.
As you can see Easter means different things to different people. However, no matter where you are in the world Easter is a great time to take stock, observe the change of seasons, and look ahead to what the rest of your year has in store for you.
Just a thought, perhaps now would be a good time to start learning a new language too…
If you’re interested you can get a great deal over the Easter weekend. Just visit the Rocket Languages home page from April 18 to find out more.
Happy Easter from the team at Rocket Languages.