History of Easter
Easter is one of the most important festivals for the Christian faith. It celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead three days after his crucifixion, establishing for many Jesus as the Messiah. Early Christians began celebrating the resurrection every Sunday, but in 325 A.D., the decision was made to set aside a special day to remember the resurrection at the Council of Nicaea, a meeting of Christian bishops called to resolve divisions within the Catholic Church. Now, Easter is celebrated on the Sunday that follows the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox in the northern hemisphere, the Autumnal Equinox in the southern hemisphere. This is why Easter is different every year.
In many ancient cultures eggs are seen as symbolic of life. History suggests early Christians brought eggs into their celebrations based on this connection to new life. Additionally, they would refrain from eating eggs during Lent, the time leading up to Easter. By the 4th Century, parishioners would bring eggs to be blessed by the church, and in the 12th Century eggs were authorised to be used in religious festivals, specifically the holy days of Easter. It is then believed that the Crusaders brought this tradition westwards. As Christianity spread, so did the tradition of the Easter egg. Initially, eggs were dyed in symbolic colours, such as red as a symbol for joy and a remembrance of the blood Jesus shed. Now, it's a fun activity for the whole family to celebrate the joy of new life.
One Easter tradition that is specific to Australia is the Easter Bilby. The tradition of the Easter Bilby began in 1968 with “Billy The Aussie Easter Bilby” a story written by Rose-Marie Dusting, a nine-year-old from Queensland. This story brought attention to the endangered bilbies, who, as well as having their habitats destroyed by cities and farms, were being run out of their burrows by rabbits. In 1991, the Foundation for Rabbit-Free Australia began an Easter Bilby campaign to replace the Easter bunny and move away from the idolization of rabbits. Since the beginning of this campaign, bilbies have received more of the attention they deserve and are slowly making a comeback in terms of numbers. The Department of Environment and Heritage has developed a National Recovery Plan to manage what remains of the Bilby’s natural habitat, monitor the existing populations, assist with breeding in captivity, and re-establish Bilbies in areas where they previously lived. Haigh’s Chocolates has partnered with the Adelaide Zoo to sponsor their bilby habitat which brings healthy Bilby babies into the zoo and shows great promise for the future of bilbies. The attention the Bilby has received has increased national pride in Australian wildlife by bringing attention to other native species and promoting the concern for their conservation.
If you want to help save the bilbies, stock up on Haigh’s chocolate Bilbies this Easter, and avoid chocolate bunnies. Additionally, you can adopt a Bilby at Taronga Zoo (https://shop.taronga.org.au/taronga-zoo-parent/register?id=800) which will grant you a personalized adoption certificate, monthly updates, information on your Bilby, and more.
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