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Easter Sunday

Easter is perhaps the most important of the Christian holidays.  According to Christian tradition,  It celebrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead following his death on Good Friday.  Easter is named for a Saxon goddess who was known by the names of Oestre or Eastre. Although American Christians continue to generally celebrate Easter as a religious holiday, public references to Easter almost never include any religious elements.

In the United States, Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate Easter in decidedly non-Christian ways: with chocolate and other forms of Easter candy, Easter eggs, Easter egg hunts, the Easter bunny, and so forth. Most cultural references to Easter include these elements, most of which are pagan in origin, and have preceded the death of the Christian god by hundreds to thousands of years — and all of which have become commercialized.

In every other language but English and German, the name Easter is derived from the Hebrew word “pesach” for “he passed over”.  In Spanish and Italian, Easter is “Pascua” in French it is “Paques”, etc.  The early Christian church spent much time creating the story of their God.  In the year 325 proclaimed that the death of Jesus would be commemorated on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Vernal Equinox.  This date was determined by noting that the Last Supper, as Christians came to know it, was actually a Passover seder, and Jesus’s resurrection occurred on that Sunday.  Passover occurs on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan on the first full moon on or after the Equinox.

The story that the early Christian church adapted is quite similar to the Roman god Mithras.  Mithras’s birthday was December 25, had 12 followers, virgin birth, and died a violent death — only to rise on the third day.

OK,  what is with the eggs and the bunny?  The egg is widely used as a symbol of the start of new life.  This tradition actually started with the ancient Zoroastrians. Their New Year was in the spring and the egg represented the start of a new life.

The bunny, like the egg is the symbol of fertility   Female hares can conceive a second litter of offspring while still pregnant with the first.  This phenomenon is known as “superfetation”.  It is no surprise that rabbits and hares should become fertility symbols.

As it happened, the pagan festival of Eastre occurred at the same time of year as the Christian observance of the Resurrection of Christ. It made sense, therefore, to alter the festival itself, to make it a Christian celebration as converts were slowly won over. The early name, Eastre, was eventually changed to its modern spelling, Easter.

[ The above information was gotten from Wikipedia – from three separate topics, “Easter”, “Easter Bunny” and “Easter Egg” ]


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