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Understanding Easter: Everything you need to know

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 Understanding Easter: Everything you need to know (Photo: iStock)

The best thing about holidays is the perks. Some people get a break from work, and you might even get the chance to enjoy big feasts while relaxing at home.

It's exciting to know that a big holiday is coming up, but how many people take the time to understand the history of the holidays they're celebrating?

Some traditions, like Easter, have been passed down through generations and we've just been taught to participate without really understanding.

With Easter fast approaching, here are some details worth knowing as you celebrate this long-awaited holiday:

- The name Easter is of pagan origin.

In many places today you will see Easter referred to as a Christian holiday. Even now, when we think of Easter, the first thing that comes to mind is Christianity.

However, the real origin of the word Easter is linked to the pagan goddess Ashtoreth or Ishtar. Her name was translated into different forms and this is what we know as Easter today.

- Easter isn't a celebration of Christ.

The death and resurrection of Christ is at the centre of the Christian faith. It is something that Christians should celebrate every day because it shows that Christ conquers all.

In modern times, churches have diluted this fact into Easter without acknowledging that the holiday was a pagan celebration.

Some early churches tried to turn it into a celebration of Christ's death and resurrection, going so far as to substitute the word Passover for Easter in Bible translations. However, this doesn't take away from the original purpose of the holiday.

- Passover and Easter fall on different dates

Confirming the dates and times when historical events took place is an important clue that can help us understand facts about holidays.

According to ancient calendars, Passover and Easter fell on different dates, sometimes months apart. This fact is confirmed in Leviticus chapter 23, which also shows that the two holidays have completely different concepts.

- Easter traditions aren't encouraged in the Bible

Easter time is associated with cultures such as egg hunts, egg decorating and other practices that we see every year. If you don't do your own research, you'll end up assuming that these are things that were practised by true Christians from biblical times, which is not true.

The original Easter activities included child sacrifice and other traditions that now carry symbolic meaning in the form of Easter bunnies, eggs and games.

- Food eaten at Easter can have a symbolic meaning

Another popular tradition at this time of year is the eating of foods such as hot cross buns and ham. These are some of the staple foods that have been passed down through generations, and some say there is a deeper story behind them.

Although the eating of foods such as hot cross buns is seen as a sign of Christ's crucifixion, they were originally associated with the worship of the goddess Ishtar.

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