Easter is here again and with it comes: an increase in church attendance (for those with any sort of faith), a four day weekend (got to love that!), the mega sales to tempt any credit-card carrying shopper, hot-cross buns, the Easter bunny and chocolate Easter eggs in all shapes and sizes.
Easter is an annual event celebrated in most parts of the Western world. Where did this celebration come from and what’s it all about? Here are some interesting facts about Easter (historical trivia):
- Christians have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ since the beginnings of Christianity. Sunday, or the Lord’s Day, came to be regarded as the weekly celebration of the resurrection.
- Around the 2nd century, this weekly observance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ turned into an annual one for the Christian church, much like a Christian Passover (an Old Testament feast which Israel celebrated for centuries after their exodus from Egypt).
- The exact date to celebrate this event has been a subject of debate within the churches throughout the centuries.
- This annual celebration eventually came to be called “Easter”. The English name Easter is of uncertain origin. The Anglo-Saxon priest Venerable Bede in the 8th century derived it from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre. “Easter” is not a Christian word.
- Easter has collected many folk customs along the way, many of which have been handed down from the ancient ceremonial and symbolism of European and Middle Eastern pagan spring festivals brought into relation with the resurrection theme. These customs have taken a variety of forms, in which, for example, eggs have been prominent as symbols of new life and resurrection and the Easter rabbit is seen also as a symbol of fertility, accredited with laying eggs (often brightly coloured or decorated).
So we see that Easter has developed into a festival that now has a lot of things that have nothing to do with its original meaning, which was a celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
What should we do as Christians – kill every Easter bunny we see or boycott Easter eggs?
That’s an option, but I think a better approach is to capitalise on this weekend and use it as a time to reflect upon the events of that Passover week when Jesus Christ suffered a cruel death for our sins but rose triumphant from the grave three days later. Easter is about Jesus Christ. It's an excellent opportunity to share this good news.