Posted in Kafevend Blog
Hello, and welcome back to the Kafevend blog! It's that time of year again when we take a look at Easter, both a hugely important event in the Christian calendar, and a celebration of spring, each encapsulated in the traditional hot cross buns and chocolate eggs. Before we get on to those however, let's brush up our memories on Easter itself...
Easter Sunday is the most important event in Christianity. The resurrection of Christ is fundamental to the religion, viewed as God's chosen plan to save humanity from sin and death. There is strong symbolism in the event, as Jesus' crucifixion is likened to the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. Whilst this however is originally a Jewish tradition, parts of Christianity were based on pre-existing religious customs, perhaps as a way to more easily accomodate new converts- such as those living in the British Isles, for one.
Paganism was the religion of choice for the ancient Britons, and the time around Easter would have been a cause of celebration for them too, though perhaps for slightly different reasons. Spring, as we all know, marks a time of growth- plants start to bloom and animals emerge from the cold of winter to start breeding again. This new life was welcomed, along with the lengthening days, with festivals. A goddess of fertility who went by the name of Eastra ( or Eostre, Eastre... there are several variations) was the focal point at this time and as you have probably noticed gave her name to Easter itself. There is a similarity too of course between the new life of spring and the resurrection of Christ.
The celebration of Spring can be traced back further still when you examine the tales of ancient Sumeria, which inhabited the region of modern day Iraq around 4,000 years ago. One story tells of a goddess called Ishtar (there's that similarity again!) who descends to the Underworld when her husband Tammuz dies. She is judged and killed, and above ground plants stop growing and animals stop breeding. Her assistant goes to the god Enki for help, who summons creatures which go and resurrect Tammuz and Ishtar, allowing them to return to the surface- this cycle repeats every 6 months. That's enough about iterative history for now, though- on to the food!
You may well have had hot cross buns yesterday as is traditional on Good Friday. Along with their significance relating to Jesus' crucifixion, the relative richness of the food, what with the spices, dairy and fruit also marks the end of Lent. The other great food at this time is the Easter Egg- this one isn't strictly a Christian symbol, as the egg itself is a symbol of spring and new life, but it has come to be strongly associated with Easter nonetheless. However you intend to spend the Easter weekend, we hope you enjoy it, along with your chocolate eggs!