As a Religious Holiday and as a Celebration of Spring There's a Long List of Meaningful Images for Easter
> Easter is a holiday that celebrates not only the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, but also the return of spring. With so many allusions to renewal and rebirth, there's a long list of Easter Symbols that inspire, motivate, and generate spiritual growth and thought.
Here's a list of many of the more popular images.
Baskets - Holding decorated eggs or gifts, the Easter Basket most likely developed from the tradition of children placing "nests" (hats at first) in which the Easter Bunny would leave them eggs as gifts.
Bells - In some countries in Europe, such as Italy and France, the church bells that ring every day are silent from Maundy Thursday until Easter Sunday, when they call out again. In addition to representing the Resurrection, they also symbolize the return of spring.
Bunny - The primary animal world representative of the holiday! Click this link to read about the Easter Bunny Origin.
Butterfly - Not quite as popular as the bunny, the butterfly's life cycle represents the life of Jesus. The caterpillar stage = earthly life of Jesus. The cocoon stage = crucifixion and burial. The butterfly emerging = Jesus raised from the dead and Ascension to Heaven.
Candles - Light - bonfires, candles, etc. - was a pre-Christian symbol of Spring returning. These sacred fires were incorporated into Christian traditions in a number of ways. For instance, in some churches a Paschal Candle is lit during the Vigil held on Saturday night, the light representing the holy and eternal light of Jesus.
Candy - More than 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies, 16 million jelly beans, and an infinite number (just guessing, based on how many I eat!) of chocolate Easter eggs are produced each year for the holiday. That makes Easter second only to Halloween as the top candy holiday. And let's not forget those yummy yellow marshmallow chick Peeps that were first made in the 1950s.
Chicks - Speaking of chickens, small chicks have been a popular Easter image as well. Related to eggs, of course, they symbolize rebirth and renewal, springtime and the return of life.
Eggs - Eggs are one of the most well-known Easter symbols. It's also important as one of the Passover symbols appearing on the Seder Plate. Read more about them on our page dedicated to Easter Egg Hunts and the history of the symbol.
Flowers - What could be more symbolic of a spring holiday than daffodils, narcissus, tulips - any flower that represents the end of winter and the emergence into the light of spring and summer?
Bonnets, Hats, and Clothes - New clothes represent a new life, a new entrance into the world - similar to many of the Easter symbols about rebirth and renewal. Wearing a new bonnet and new clothes on Easter is an old tradition that's said to bring good luck throughout the year. In the 1800s the proud display of new fashion led to the establishment of the Easter Parade (see below).
Hot Cross Buns - The symbol of the Cross is iced on top of these Easter delicacies. In some countries they're eaten on Good Friday; in other countries, they're eaten anytime as a holiday treat.
Lilies - The trumpet-shaped white Easter Lily symbolizes not only springtime but also purity, innocence, and virtue. There are many stories about the flower in the Christian tradition and it's become one of the more formal Easter symbols.
They are said to have sprung up in the Garden of Gethsemane from the drops of Jesus's sweat and blood during the Agony. Called "white-robed apostles of hope," they've become popular in churches for Easter since the 1800s.
It's also told that those who visited the Virgin Mary's tomb found it empty except for the white lilies that grew there.
A beautiful legend tells that Jesus visited a garden where all the flowers bowed to him but the elegant lily. But when Jesus hung on the Cross, the lilies then bowed as well.
Palm Branches - Symbols of peace, palm branches represent the first Palm Sunday, when Jesus visited Jerusalem and was met by people waving the branches.
Parade - The first Easter Parade occurred in New York City in the mid-1880s. The tradition of wearing a new bonnet and clothes for the holiday developed into a time to "strut your stuff" - to show off on your way to church. Ordinary folks soon lined 5th Avenue to watch the display.
In 1948, the "happiest musical ever made," Easter Parade, was released starring Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. Here's the trailer:
There may be a more meaningful history of the Easter Parade that dates back to the early Christians, when the newly baptized would wear white robes throughout the week leading to Easter Sunday. During the Middle Ages in Europe, congregants would follow a crucifix after Easter Mass through the streets.
Paschal Lamb - As one of the traditional elements of the Jewish Passover, the lamb's significance carried over as one of the important Easter symbols. The blood represents the blood smeared on the doorposts of the homes of the Israelites the night before being redeemed from slavery in Egypt (the Angel of Death passed over - hence the holiday's English name - those homes with lamb's blood.
It also represents the blood Jesus shed to redeem people from their sins. In addition, Jesus is seen as the Good Shepherd of his flock and even as the sacrificial lamb itself.
Pussy Willows - A tradition that seems limited to England and Russia, people took branches of the early spring pussy willows and tapped each others shoulders for good luck.
Wine - Although wine is another of the Easter symbols present at the Passover Seder, its meaning is quite different. For the Seder it represents joy, freedom, and the blood of the first-born spilled as the last of the 10 Plagues. For Christians, it symbolizes the blood shed by Jesus on the Cross and his subsequent Resurrection.
Don't see your favorite on the list? Feel free to share it with other visitors to Best Meaningful Gifts.com by adding to our page about Your Easter Stories. You can also discuss your thoughts about these Easter Symbols there.
While presents aren't required for this holiday, the meaning of the celebration provides a great opportunity to give meaningful gifts to those you love and care about. Check out our suggestions for the best Unique Easter Gifts and our Easter Basket Ideas.
If you enjoyed our page about Easter Symbols, I'm sure you'll also like our page about History of Easter. The more you know about these traditions, the more meaningful the gift you choose will be!