The celebration’s emphasis is placed on Christ's resurrection, which symbolizes rebirth or new life, so Easter is typically celebrated by Christians. However, the celebration is shrouded with pagan rituals that go back to our earliest recorded history.
Easter celebrations run over the course of four days and are said to commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The celebration’s emphasis is placed on Christ's resurrection, which symbolizes rebirth or new life, so Easter is typically celebrated by Christians. However, the celebration is shrouded with pagan rituals that go back to our earliest recorded history.
Easter's exact origin is a controversial subject, and literary scholars debate it with no consensus about the date. What is agreed upon is the introduction of pagan rituals relating to spring and the birth of new life. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead neatly fits into ancient pagan worship rituals. Some scholars argue that this is not accidental but designed to merge old beliefs with new ones to recruit new believers into the Christian faith.
The Passover celebrated by the Jewish people was done away within the New Testament of the bible. The Christian belief is that Jesus became the sacrificial lamb, and the bible says to forsake the old laws and follow the teachings of Christ. The Passover and Easter fall over the same time, so it was convenient to replace one with the other. However, Easter is not mentioned in the New Testament, and there are no instructions on conducting celebrations or religious rituals of any kind.
Easter is the Greek word "pascha", derived from the Hebrew word "pesach", which means Passover. There is no other meaning of the word other than Passover, and there is no original Greek word for Passover either. The word Easter stems from Ostera or Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. Spring festivals were held annually, and some of our Easter customs are rooted in this ancient pagan festival.
The Easter Egg is a sign of fertility. Colouring eggs in beautiful designs have been a custom of almost all cultures in our contemporary world. Easter eggs represent the Indo-European races’ fertility lore and have a great significance to spring, being the season of a new birth. Some Christians see the tomb of Jesus as the egg from which he was resurrected and emerged as the saviour of mankind. In this way, pagan customs were laced into Christianity without being questioned.
Eggs have been used in festivals and celebrations for thousands of years. In Egypt, eggs were hung in the temples as an emblem of generative life. The mystic egg of Babylon hatched the Venus Ishtar, who fell from heaven to the Euphrates river. Dyed eggs were and still are sacred offerings in Egypt, China, Europe and other countries worldwide.
The Easter Bunny is also related to fertility. In Ancient Egypt, the hare was a symbol of fertility and closely related; European cultures substituted it with the rabbit. In Germany and Austria, parents would fill little nests with colored eggs, pastry and candy, then hide them in the garden for the children to find. The children believed that the rabbit laid the eggs and added pastry gifts and candy to the nest.
The one fact that eludes most people is that rabbits do not and cannot lay eggs. They are warm-blooded mammals. Yet, like all folklore, it is accepted as part of the festivities. Father Christmas and his flying reindeer are other examples of imaginations from yesteryear gone wild.
Never-the-less, although not based on reality or fact, these pagan festivities are well intended as they inspire virtuous behavior. Easter is a time to remember the unselfish act of Jesus accepting death to save mankind from eternal damnation. It also shows the grace of God in giving his only son to save the world.
Almost every nation around the world celebrates Easter. In countries with a Christian foundation, Easter is awarded public holiday status. Festivities take place over a 4-day long weekend from Friday to Monday.
Cadbury introduced sweet chocolate into Easter by making chocolate Easter Bunnies and eggs wrapped in brightly colored decorative tin foil wrapping. This addition to Easter commercialized it. Hallmark also contributed to the commercialization of Easter with their Easter greeting card range depicting the Easter Bunny.
Over the Easter long weekend, most Christians will attend church services. On Sunday, there will be an Easter egg hunt. Parents will hide Easter eggs in the garden or park, and the children will rush out and find as many as they can. This is a time for families to get together and focus on treating their children to some rewarding fun.
Being a 4-day weekend means families can travel to meet up with other family members or friends. In our rushed lives, we tend to put aside the small things that matter most to us. The all-important message of Jesus sacrificing himself seems to bring people together to remember what’s important.
Children learn to share during Easter, too. One child may find a dozen eggs while another may only find two. The winner of the hunt is announced, and all the children are encouraged to share their bounty. After all, the fun is in the hunt itself and not gorging on chocolate eggs only to end up with a stomach ache.
In many ways, Easter is very much like Thanksgiving. It’s a time to be thankful and to remember the good that others have done for us. It’s a time of togetherness and of sharing and enjoying the company of others.
Regardless of the pagan link to Easter, it remains a conscious decision to participate in the bunny and egg festivities for many. It focuses on the underlying message, which is a virtuous one, to do that little extra for your neighbor and spread goodwill among people in general.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Nadia Rumbolt
Nadia Rumbolt is a mom of many trades, including creative writing, blogging, van life, minimalism, veganism, the beach, nature, and the occult.