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One of the most joyous celebrations on the liturgical calendar surrounds the 2,000-year old Christian tradition that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his ultimate victory over the cross.

While Christmas remains the biggest day on the modern calendar, the annual holiday that was most revered -- and most strictly observed -- was Easter.

In fact, many Easter traditions that have been handed down to us today were first begun during the Middle Ages when Lenten fasting was strictly observed.

The tradition of hard boiled eggs at Easter time, for example, originated with a way to safely store the family's supply of eggs during lent. And, because flour and milk were also forbidden, home cooks used them to make heaping stacks of pancakes to use up all the ingredients by (you guessed it) Fat Tuesday!

In ancient Egypt, the hare was
a revered symbol of fertility
and renewal.

While Easter remains a Christian religious observance throughout the Western world, it's origins date back even further than Christianity.

Famous modern Easter symbols - such as the rabbit or Easter Bunny - can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians who revered them as symbols of fertility.

Later, the Celts would also honor the rabbit at the spring festival of Eostre, a pagan goddess whose symbol was the rabbit, the prolific harbinger of new life.

Just up ahead, dig deeper into the history of the holiday, (including Good Friday and Holy Week services) along with Easter's deep significance as a symbol of renewed life to the ancients, and of profound hope of everlasting life within the Christian world ...

also see in NYC Travel - The Fifth Avenue Easter Parade

More about Easter history and traditions around the Web:

Easter - Its Origins and Meanings - A general overview beginning with pagan and Judeo-Christian traditions, the modern celebration, and related essays on the resurrection and Shroud of Turin.

Easter - Wikipedia - Complete encyclopedic information on the holiday throughout the ages, with an overview of its place in history and world cultures, resources to special prayers liturgical rites, photos & illustrations, related resources.

Catholic Encyclopedia: Easter - An engaging look at ancient traditions, both Christian and pagan, that arose from the season including strange church customs carried out in the Middle Ages which were ended, the encyclopedia states, "...for obvious reasons."

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