Easter is the time of year when all Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ after he was crucified on the cross. It is probably the most celebrated occasion in the Christian calendar. It is even more important than Christmas itself.
Easter itself is the culmination of forty days in which time Christians pray, fast and reflect. That time is called Lent. The forty days are said to represent the forty days that Jesus was out in the wilderness alone and where he overcame many temptations of the devil.
The week before Easter itself is the Holy Week. Thursday is known as Maundy Thursday and is the day Jesus had the last supper with his disciples then Good Friday is the day Jesus was crucified. As we all know Easter Sunday is the day in which we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and should not be forgotten when we celebrate Easter.
The Christian church was looking for a time to hold a celebration for the resurrection of Christ and changed the pagan celebration of Eostre into their own celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. They also changed the day on which the celebration took place and decreed that the new date was after the first Sunday after the full moon on or after the Vernal Equinox. This also meant that the date changed from year to year and is now celebrated between the 22nd March or in some cases as late as the 25th April.
Many centuries before Jesus was resurrected from the cross civilizations celebrated the coming of spring with grand festivals and rituals so it’s no coincidence the Christian church used this time to celebrate Jesus’ life and death.
Warmth, Light and Fertility
Even before Christianity began people celebrated the coming of spring by organizing grand festivals and sacrifices to honor their goddesses of spring. They all knew that if their goddess was pleased with them then she would reward them by warming and lighting up the land, give new life to overwintering flowers, trees and shrubs and to bring new life into animals and birds too not to mention the fields upon which they grew their food.
But where did the Easter celebration come from? Well we are not quite sure but it’s almost certain that it is from one of these events:
Goddess of Fertility and Spring
The word “Easter” could be derived from the pagan word Eostre who was the goddess of fertility and birth. The pagans believed she returned to earth each year around what we now call spring time and bestowed light and warmth to the land. To mark the coming of Eostre the pagans laid on huge celebrations in her honor so as not to upset the goddess.
There are other events that claim to be the original Easter celebration including:
The Jewish Passover
Another version is the Jewish Passover with some people believing this Hebrew tradition was the basis of Easter. The Jewish people celebrated around Easter time to herald the freedom of the Israelites from incarceration and slavery. This, along with the resurrection of Christ which happened around the same time as the Jewish Passover contributed too many Jews considering the Passover and Easter being one.
Even the word Easter is a little mysterious in it’s origins.
Lost in Translation
The word Easter itself is said to have come from an actual translation error. The Latin word Alba or white is thought to have been mistranslated when translated into German. The Alba word means white but it can also mean sunlight and its thought that the sunlight translation was used and therefore the word Easter was born.
Easter Bunny and Brightly Painted Eggs
It has become a much commercialized event too with the integration of Easter eggs, chocolate and the Easter bunny being at the forefront of the commercialization. The original Easter bunny and eggs originated from pagan times when they associated them with the coming of spring and fertility. The pagans would paint them with bright colors and hang them in trees and bushes and also give them out to family and friends. But it was the Germans who carried on with the tradition, so much so that around the 18th century the first chocolate Easter eggs were created by them. Since then we have seen an explosion of people giving chocolate around Easter time but it should not be forgotten why Easter is important for another reason.
Never Forget why we Celebrate
No matter how or why we celebrate Easter there is one thing that all Christian’s must never forget. You should never forget the reason why the world over people celebrate Easter, and that is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
For that very fact Easter is an important date in the Christian calendar and possibly more important than Christmas itself.
Wayne Anthony has been writing for a number of years and in that time written about lots of different subjects including health, relationships, technology and environmental being a few. He is also the author of an e-book entitled The Easter Book. Its a small book covering customs, traditions and recipes from countries such as Germany, Sweden and the UK and available Free to Ezine’s writers. Click here and contact me for a copy or more details.
I am passionate about the planet and the environment around me so have started a small blog here
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