April, the fourth month of the year, gets its name from the Latin word aperio, meaning “to open (bud)” because plants really begin to grow at this time. Easter is generally celebrated during the month of April and is the most important feast day in the Christian church, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The feast day is “moveable” and always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. When one thinks of Easter, religious or not, there are many family traditions and symbols associated with this special day and they’re quite interesting. It’s not as simple as saying whether or not the symbols are of pagan or Christian origin, Easter history is a “rich and beautiful tapestry woven through the ages.” Here are some additional fun facts about the month of April as stated in the “Old Farmer’s Almanac”, courtesy of Patsy Zima:
• April’s full pink moon will rise on the night of Monday, April 26 and will reach its peak of illumination at 11:33 PM ET. This full moon is one of two supermoons of the year.
• The birthstone of April is the diamond. In addition to being the symbol of everlasting love, the diamond was once thought to bring courage. In Sanskrit, the diamond is called vajra, which also means lightning; in Hindu mythology, Vajra was the weapon of Indra, the king of gods.
• April’s birth flowers are the daisy and the sweet pea. By April, spring is in full bloom and these pretty flowers are ready to express their happy plans and intrigues. The daisy conveys innocence, loyal love, and purity. Yet, the daisy is also a flower given between friends to keep a secret. Giving a daisy means, “I’ll never tell.”
• The egg has been a universal symbol in many religions across the millennia, symbolizing new life, rebirth, and fertility. The origin of the Easter Egg is based on the fertility lore of the Indo-European races and represents new life.
• What better symbol to represent fertility and new life than a rabbit, or hare, which produce so many offspring! The rabbit symbolism had its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore, while the hare was the Egyptian symbol of fertility. The ancient Greeks thought that rabbits could reproduce as virgins and in the early medieval times, the rabbit became associated with the Virgin Mary and commonly appeared in medieval art. However, the Easter Bunny who visits children on Easter morning is the invention of German Protestants. The Easter Hare brought eggs and sweets to good children in the same way Santa brings gifts to well-behaved little ones.
• The most popular of the Easter symbol is the lamb, and is the most significant as it represents the Lamb of God, Jesus, and embodies purity, goodness and sacrifice. The lamb was a sacrifice made during the Jewish Passover, which is a holiday celebrating when the “angel of death” passed over the homes of those who had sacrificial lamb’s blood smeared on their doorposts, sparing the first-born sons. Roasted lamb shanks are an important part of the Passover seder plate. Jesus was crucified during Passover week and then made the ultimate sacrifice – his life. He is referred to in the Bible as the “Lamb of God” and our “Passover lamb.” At Easter, we celebrate Jesus’s Passover from death to life.
• Preparing an Easter ham for part of the Easter feast is a nod to the pig, thought to be a symbol of good luck and prosperity, and the preparing of Easter sweet breads is also a tradition, especially with the arrival of the end of Lent. For Christians, the resurrected Christ is called “the bread of life.”
• The Easter Lily, with its sheer white petals, symbolizes life, purity, innocence, joy and peace and has been a beautiful symbol of motherhood prior to the birth of Jesus, which is why the lily is so closely associated with Mary in Roman Catholic religion. However, the lilies of Christ’s time are not the Easter lily we know today but were wild lilies of the valleys and fields.