Easter is a time that is both solemn and full of joy – and as such, it is also a time that is surrounded by different symbols that are seen almost any where you look this time of year. You can probably think of some of the most common right off the top of your head like eggs, baby bunnies and chicks; but have you thought about any of these lesser known symbols and where they come from? Below is a list that may or may not already exist in your own traditions around the holiday.
Dogwood Trees – The Pacific Dogwood is British Columbia’s floral emblem as well as an important symbol for Easter. It was the wood of a Dogwood that was used to build the cross that Jesus was crucified on and many say that while Easter does not land on the same date each year, the Dogwood most commonly blooms closest to Easter.
Lilies – Lilies are a commonly sent to those that are grieving but they are also symbolic of new life and purity. For Easter, white Lilies symbolize Jesus’s resurrection, and it is said that they grew around Jesus in his hours on the cross.
Hot Cross Buns – Commonly enjoyed on Good Friday and for many at Easter Brunch, many know that the buns are adorned with a cross on the top of each bun but what some may not know is that the spices used in the dough represent those that were used to prepare Jesus’s body for the tomb.
Candles – Candles are used to represent finding the light in the darkness and are a symbol of hope. Candles are lit throughout Lent and are commonly found in many different faith’s traditions year round.
Butterflies – A butterfly is a significant symbol of Easter as it’s whole life cycle can symbolize Jesus’s life. His life on Earth is the caterpillar, His crucifixion as the cocoon and His rising as the final stage of a butterfly.
Easter Baskets – Did you know that this tradition started in Germany and was brought to America by German immigrants? The tradition is called Osterhase and started as having children create their own nests to entice the Easter Bunny to lay his coloured eggs in. This slowly morphed into baskets with chocolate and goodies but it still carries the same symbol of fertility and new life.
Easter Outfits & Bonnets – There is an age-old tradition of wearing new outfits or a new Easter bonnet on Easter and many believe it brings good luck into the coming season or even year. As time passed a tradition added for many was to create elaborate Easter bonnets. Some people continue to this day to celebrate by holding bonnet parades or competitions.
Soft Pretzels – For some, specifically in European countries, soft pretzels have become apart of the tradition at Easter. It is said that a monk created the pretzel to eat during Lent as at the time Catholics were not allowed to eat eggs or milk during the 40 day fast for Lent. It is also believed that the shape of a Pretzel reflects a prayer position that was popular at the time – picture someone’s shoulders with their arms crossed in front with their hands on their shoulders.