Easter Sunday will be celebrated this coming weekend on March 31st.  Although Easter is observed in Christian countries as the resurrection of Christ, many of its customs and legends are pagan in origin.

Easter can occur as early as March 22nd, or as late as April 25th, depending on when the first Sunday falls, following the full moon on or after the Spring equinox (March 21st.) The season has long been associated with spring festivals, tulips, crocuses, daffodils, chocolate bunnies and coloured eggs.


The word “Easter” comes from Ostra, Ostern or Eastre, the latter two being goddesses of Spring and fertility. As the most fertile of animals, the rabbit (or Easter bunny) has become the symbol of new life.  The Easter connection to the rabbit was first mentioned in German writings as early as the 1500s and the first edible Easter bunnies, made of pastry and sugar, appeared in Germany during the early 1800s.  German immigrants to North America during the 19th century brought this custom with them.

The Easter egg was originally coloured in bright shades to represent the sunlight of Spring. Different cultures have decorated the egg in various ways through the centuries. In Greece, for instance, eggs are painted crimson to denote the blood of Christ. In Germany and Austria, eggs are painted green for Maundy Thursday and in Slavic countries they are mostly gold or silver. 

In German medieval times, eggs were given to servants as gifts at Easter. A custom in Roman times was to exchange eggs as gifts between lovers and admirers, like valentine gifts today.  Egg-rolling contests also date from Roman times and even today this custom is carried out on the White House lawn in Washington. 

Easter is also connected to the Jewish holiday of Passover, an 8-day observance to commemorate the freedom and exodus of the Israelites from Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II.

Apparently, from 1923 until 1941, the most popular celebration of Easter Sunday Services near where I live today on Vancouver Island, was held at the summit of Mount Tolmie at sunrise. These Sunrise Services were initiated by Dr Clem Davies, a small man, large of voice and emotion. He installed an enormous cross on the then wild, park-like area of the mountain and conducted his services there in the open-air.

Over 8,000 people attended the Sunrise Service in 1930 and most of the congregation had arrived on the No. 10 streetcar from town. They then climbed by foot to the top of the mountain dressed in all their Easter finery. Flowery new Easter bonnets were seen in profusion.  The mountain was an array of wild lilies, buttercups and other wildflowers and it was apparently not uncommon to see peacocks strolling around as the crowds later ate a picnic lunch before returning once again to the city on overloaded streetcars.

The last Easter Sunrise service was held on the mountain in 1941, by which time World War II was in full swing and Mount Tolmie was being utilized as a defence zone for the city of Victoria. Clem Davies, who had started this delightful Easter tradition, passed away in 1951.

As we celebrate this new season of life, I wish you all a very HAPPY EASTER!