Easter in Belgium
Jesus Christ died on a cross on a Friday almost two thousand years ago. Christians believe that on the following Sunday, Christ rose from the dead and, in doing so, proved that He is the Son of God. The day Jesus died and was buried is known as Good Friday. The following Sunday is Easter.
Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Son of God each year between March 22nd and April 25th.
Religious celebrations include family gatherings and special Easter church services.
So where do the Bunnies come in?
In olden times, Christian monks were very good at explaining their religion to those who hadn't heard of God or Jesus. They almost always took symbols of significance of the people they were teaching and used those symbols to teach about God.
The timing of Easter was such that it coincided with the spring festivals of many pagan religions. (In northern Europe, the goddess of spring was Eostre -- some people say that Easter may have even gotten its name from this goddess).
These spring festivals celebrated the wakening of the world after spring. Luckily, this "awakening" went very well with the monks teaching of Jesus' resurrection! The ideas of the rebirth of spring were merged with the Christian teachings of Jesus resurrection to form the Easter holiday most of us know today.
Easter traditions differ around the world. Here are just a few of them.
In Italy, Belgium and France, children say Easter eggs are brought by the church bells. There, church bells do not ring from Good Friday until Easter Sunday. Because of this, people say that the bells have flown off to Rome. As the bells fly back home for Easter, they drop colored eggs for boys and girls to find.
The Belgians certainly know how to bring out the best in a holiday. Weeks before Easter, the chocolatiers crafted their displays, full of rabbits and chickens and eggs.
Of all the symbols associated with Easter the egg, the symbol of fertility and new life, is the most identifiable. The customs and traditions of using eggs have been associated with Easter for centuries. Originally Easter eggs were painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring and were used in Easter-egg rolling contests or given as gifts. After they were colored and etched with various designs the eggs were exchanged by lovers and romantic admirers, much the same as valentines. In medieval time eggs were traditionally given at Easter to the servants. For thousands of years, people thought of eggs as the symbols of new life. People also thought that the Earth itself hatched from a huge egg. So that is why the egg was chosen as the symbol of the resurrection.