Easter Sun

Easter Sun

Old European folk beliefs teach that the sun dances for joy as it rises on Easter morning. In England this folk belief can be traced back at least as far as the seventeenth century, as demonstrated in this snippet of a poem called "Ballad upon a Wedding," written in 1641 by Sir John Suckling:

Her feet beneath her petticoat Like little mice stole in and out, As if they feared the light: But, oh, she dances in such a way No sun upon an Easter-day Is half so fine a sight (Weiser 1954:158).

In the British Isles folk tradition advised that the best way to view the sun's elusive Easter morning movements was to place a pan of water in an east-facing window at sunrise. One then simply looked down into the water which captured and reflected the image of the dancing sun (for more on the Christian significance of the direction east, see Easter, Origin of the Word). Armenians used a mirror to reflect the sun's dancing rays.

A related legend suggested that if one looked at the sun just as it rose over the horizon on Easter morning one could see the figure of a lamb superimposed upon it. Local lore offered many suggestions as to the right spot and right angle from which to catch this marvelous sight.

Gathering to watch the sun rise on Easter morning is an old European folk tradition. Favorite spots for these informal celebrations included hilltops or flat, open plains. As the sun rose people cheered, sang or prayed, according to local custom. In some places bells rang or canons boomed to greet the Easter sunrise. In others bands and choirs caroled a salute to the sun. Today many churches schedule special sunrise services on Easter morning.

The sun and the sunrise have several symbolic connections to the Easter story. According to the Bible, Jesus' followers first discovered the Resurrection at daybreak (Matthew 28:1-7, Mark 16:1-7, Luke 23:1-9, John 20:1-18). Furthermore, the sun itself sometimes serves as a symbol of Christ. Finally, Easter falls shortly after the spring equinox (see also Easter, Date of). The spring equinox marks that turning point in the year after which the days are longer than the nights. Thus Easter comes at that time of year in which the sun and its light triumphs over night and darkness.

Further Reading

Cohen, Hennig, and Tristram Potter Coffin. The Folklore of American Holidays. Third edition. Detroit, MI: Gale, 1999. Lord, Priscilla Sawyer, and Daniel J. Foley. Easter Garland. 1963. Reprint. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 1999. Weiser, Francis X. The Easter Book. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1954.
References in periodicals archive ?
In Dublin, revellers made the most of the Easter sun by bringing their picnic baskets and laying out throws in St Stephen's Green, and the Phoenix Park.
Moments later, New Brighton appeared, an egg waiting for the Easter sun.
The most popular destination for Brits seeking Easter sun are Malaga, Alicante and Majorca.
Flying down glistening white snowy slopes, while catching the hot Easter sun, is a blissful way to spend a holiday.
Families enjoying the Easter sun on the Sefton coast
Jarvis's flagbearers in the 1980s were the sprinter Petong and middle-distance stars Bob Back and Easter Sun, who won the 1982 Coronation Cup, being one of many good horses he trained for his chief patron Lady Beaverbrook.
The gardens are enriched with wildlife and, with the glorious Easter sun, kids enjoyed the garden trail while parents enjoyed lounging in the heat.
But with the Easter sun and fans turning up the heat over the Hammers' poor form, he might have to start filling his water bottle with ice to try to keep cool.
AS thousands of holidaymakers jetted off abroad in search of the Easter sun yesterday, thousands more were stranded in Tenerife.
Easter sun beating down and a full squad in the car, clearly midway between wilting under the heat and choking with asphyxiation.
The west-facing lounges with large windows perfectly frame the view up the Tay valley and with the Easter sun flooding in, it was a bit special.
KIDS young and old took a break from the Easter sun to play with their toys.