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Let's Celebrate Easter: the real Easter, and nothing but the Easter

Updated on April 8, 2015

Here's why Easter is awesome

I'm pretty sure almost every sane person loves Easter. The days are getting longer. You can finally feel the sweet sting of starlight emanating from our nearest celestial reactor. We get to spend time with family, celebrate rebirth and the flourishing of spring. There is candy everywhere, tucked in extravagant little plastic baskets. Rumor and intrigue relating to an elusive, altruistic, anthropomorphic mammal exhilarate inter-generational conversation. We get to eat ham. I mean, we can eat ham any other day, but on this day it's like a whole thing. Arts and crafts finally gets the esoteric allegorical makeover it has been begging for. Plus, eggs. All these factors coalesce into what usually turns out to be a pretty enjoyable experience.

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Here's where Easter gets weird

Everyone is running around, gleefully participating in nonsensical tradition accompanied by meaningful family bonding. Then it happens. Inevitably, a village elder gathers the encourageable youngsters in order to bestow upon them their version of the true meaning of Easter. All of this tomfoolery, they tell us, is orchestrated in order to pay tribute to a miracle that has since not had the luxury of repetition, a resurrection. This day has been pretty good thus far, so we indulge our forefathers in a seemingly in-congruent detour into the bizarre.

Apparently, all of this joyous egg painting and ham consumption somehow owes itself to a mystical deity preachers of Sunday have aggressively indoctrinated us into believing, or at least they have attempted to do so. Many of us shrug off these inconsistencies, for fear of losing privilege to our beloved scavenger hunts. Still, others wonder, how this all came into being.

Ok, so what's up with the colored eggs?

Ancient civilizations have long heralded eggs as a symbol of birth and fertility. In a celebration originally meant to observe the coming of spring, we garnish this symbol in recognition of life and new birth. The products of conception are finally able to flourish in this season of increasingly temperate climates and abundance. We honor the egg as a tribute to this phenomenon.

Why the egg eventually became a symbol for the resurrection is not a product of direct rationality, but it does tie into the general theme of life and birth. The practice of hiding these tributes, and subsequently scavenging for them is also beyond my comprehension. Either way, it's a fun way to get the children involved, and I can't find any reason to discount that. For me, the best reconciliation is to stick with the original connotation of the egg and simply try to acclimate to these shenanigans.

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What about that over-sized pastel bunny rabbit?

The symbol of the rabbit has its origin in a similar vein as the egg. Since early pagan settlements, the rabbit has been recognized for its extraordinarily high reproduction rate, and has subsequently become an emblem for the coming of spring. There is some speculation that the rabbit originally garnered its ties with Easter because of an association with the Teutonic goddess Eostra. Some say that this is where the term Easter got its origin, but this is a widely debated topic. Even still, one has to recognize the similarity between the terms.

As for the reason we decided to bestow this symbol the task of hiding eggs for young children to find is not something I have succeeded in fruitfully uncovering. The gargantuan nature of this beast, or its frighteningly uncanny anthropomorphized stature can only be reconciled by myself to be an effort to brutally horrify small children. Again, as to why we have chosen to associate the rabbit with the resurrection of a Christian deity is beyond my grasp.

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But, it's actually when Jesus rose from the dead right?

You will recall that Easter always happens on the same day of the week, Sunday. If we were going to celebrate a birthday, we would just use the calendar day. For an easy example, let use Jesus' reported birthday, December 25th. Notice, this is not "the third Tuesday after the first born groundhog sees it's shadow," its an actual date. We're good with that, for now, but Easter happens on a very different timescale.

Easter is set to be observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. I will try to explain this more simply. After wintertime, the days start to get longer. Eventually, daytime lasts just as long as nighttime. This day is called the Equinox. After this happens, a full moon occurs at some point. After this happens, the next Sunday is Easter. Go find some eggs, obviously.

Using celestial alignments seems like an extraordinarily convoluted way to time the celebration of a resurrection, unless you are actually celebrating celestial objects themselves. Wouldn't that make more sense, that we're honoring the Sun? After all, the holiday does purposefully fall on Sunday. Not to mention the whole theme of the holiday is springtime, which is a direct result of the Sun's position relative to the Earth. Anyway, it's just a theory. A weird word, Sun Day, isn't it? I wonder what the hidden significance behind that one is. Maybe we'll never know.

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So where did all of this nonsense come from?

It wasn't nonsense in the beginning. It was actually a very rational celebration of springtime and the renewed fertility it brought forth. Ancient civilizations welcomed budding crops and newborns of all types. This gratitude was originally bestowed upon the entity actually responsible, the Sun. The customs of this observance was then utilized by modern religions to celebrate whatever event they saw fit. That's why Easter has so much imagery associated with springtime, because that's what we are celebrating, the revitalization of the Sun.

Obviously, none of this has anything to do with a supposed resurrection of an actual human being. It's much more likely Christians adopted the rituals of another pre-made holiday to celebrate an event they wanted to commemorate. I mean, that just seems like less work to me. As an example: It's kind of like if a group of Scientologists thought Christmas was a really rad idea, except for the whole Jesus thing, and starting adopting all of its traditions to celebrate something L. Ron Hubbard did that they thought was pretty nifty.

In theory, here's nothing wrong with wanting to celebrate your faith, but if you're going to, why not be original about it? While you're at it, if you're trying to convince people its the actual day of resurrection, maybe stick to a specific day. Either way, doesn't your unbounded, blind faith deserve more than a Pegan ripoff? Can't you think of anything better than a bunny that lays eggs? Maybe a platypus that gives live birth? I don't know, it's a jumping off point.

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    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @PP: yeah, our family doesn't have any small children anymore so we just all got together, ate ham, played beach volleyball, and drank too much good beer. I think Jesus would have wanted it that way. Oh, except probably the ham part. Weird how that snuck in there.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 

      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      sorry i am late, Happy easter to you and don't bother much about the tradition, just buy or make some easter eggs

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @tsmog: thank you very much for taking the time to read and comment. A very happy belated Easter to you as well.

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 

      3 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Great article bringing much delight to these ears listening closely. I too thank Alan for his interesting input. I ponder 'connections' between events here and there with when forgetting why while only considering the when was the same it seems of such a celebrated day with a meaningful significance. For some odd reason the Poetic Edda is "runnin' all 'round my brain" as Jackson Brown shared with us while 'that' being the stimulus rather that, of which he infers.

      Thank you for sharing as I posture a belated 'Happy Easter' :-)

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @alan: thank you very much for this rather detailed history lesson. Seems to me everybody likes any reason for a good feast. I am glad to hear confirmation of the rabbit as a symbol for Spring. I had no idea the history of rabbits was so convoluted, but am glad to now know that. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello Luke, just passing. Interesting piece on Easter here, can I put my oar in and muddy the waters a bit more?

      In terms of the 'Anglo-Saxon' world, when St Augustine of Hippo was sent by Rome to convert the godless in this neck of the European wood he had to make concessions. He faced objections unless the Roman Church yielded on feast days. (In the North of England there was already some stirring towards Christianity through the work of the Irish monks and Northumbria had its own take on the faith by the time the Mediterranean-based missionaries came to Kent).

      The feasting in honour of Eostre/Eostra would continue with a new name, Easter, and the Yule Feast in mid-winter would be kept, but with a new 'god' at its heart, and in between you had Whitsuntide as well as All Saints that coincided with the Celtic/Anglo-Saxon traditions.

      Rabbits didn't show in North-western Europe, particularly Britain, before the Normans brought them (donated by Alfonso of Aragon for feeding William's men). In common with other areas of Northern Europe we had - still have - hares, the Celts used them for their Spring emblem/animal, with longer legs (like Jack Rabbits - can't imagine rabbits with their shorter legs dashing about hiding eggs).

      The Normans upset everybody's equilibrium by invading Ireland and imposing Roman Catholicism, thus beginning the 'troubles' and a massive headache for future generations.

    • profile image

      meramour 

      3 years ago

      I love this! Interesting and made me laugh. Love your sense of humour. Enjoy your ham!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 

      3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I'm also puzzled about how ham became the favored meat to eat on Easter Sunday since Jesus was Jewish and supposedly did not eat pork.

      But the whole day is about the Sun anyway. Christians just ripped it off to honor their dead "savior" after calling the Friday that he was tortured to death "GOOD" Friday! Weird to the extreme.

      I'm convinced that religion is ingrained insanity anyway.

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @chuck: yeah me too... I was surprised at how hard it was to find reliable information on the subject. Much of it may be simply lost to history. Either way, it's a fun way to get together with the family. Happy Easter to you as well.

    • chuckandus6 profile image

      Nichol marie 

      3 years ago from The Country-Side

      Great hub, I do think.it is weird how holidays came About.

      Happy Easter

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