I had a wonderful Easter weekend, and I hope you all did likewise! My daughters were delighted with their Easter Baskets, and looked super-cute in their flouncy, sparkly, tulle-rich dresses. We had friends over to do a massive egg hunt in our back yard and the weather was absolutely perfect; sunny and warm without being too hot. The daffodils are happily prolific in my yard, and between their buttery blooms and the cherry tree blossoms it looked like the kids were hunting for eggs in a florist shop.
I took a humongous amount of pictures of my daughters being adorable.
Easter is, as most people reading this know, the Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on the third day after his crucifixion. It is the holist day of the Christian liturgical calendar and a day when most Christians, even those who normally eschew church-going, attend a morning service. A lot of Americans are “holly-lily” churchgoers … they show up at Christmas when there is holly and at Easter when there are lilies.
Although a deeply meaningful time for many Christians for the last 15 centuries or so, the Christian traditions were grafted onto old, pre-Christian celebrations. For one thing, Easter is nearly inextricable from the Jewish feast of Passover. For another thing, there were a lot of other spring renewal festivals in other, pantheistic, pagan religions that people liked to well to just give up when they converted to Christianity. There is a persistent myth that Ishtar is the goddess behind our present-day Easter celebrations, but that is incorrect. We get the name “Easter” and the shtick of the bunnies and eggs from Eostre (also spelled Ostara), a Germanic and Anglo-Saxon goddess. Saint Bede wrote in 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time in the early years of the 8th century, and in it he “states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Eostre’s honor, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.” Like MOST European goddesses of spring and/or fertility, Eostre could be represented by rabbits and eggs.
Neo-pagan and wiccan religions are experiencing a renewal across the West, and the goddesses are being revived in their more ancient forms again. Nonetheless, it has been more than 1000 years since Easter meant anything more than the resurrection of Jesus in Northern Europe; at this point Easter is as “naturally” Christian as any other holiday.
Easter for the Tudors was a happy occasion for multiple reasons, and one of those reasons was that it marked the end of Lent and the revival of goodies in the diet. Feasting took place, often in large gatherings of family and friends, and with butter and eggs back on the menu – cake happened. Most people eat a big family meal with lots of desserts on Easter in the present day, as well.
When Puritans controlled England they managed to suck nearly ever iota of pleasure out of Christian worship, and Easter was not spared the ravages of the killjoys. In fact, there are still some modern day “Puritans” who positively seethe at the thought of Christians celebrating such a pagan holiday:
If you want to be a Papist, then call yourself a Papist, or a Druid, or a Grecian worshipper of the devil. Don’t call yourself Christian by upholding a blatantly obvious demonic holy-day that God abhors. When you partake of such wicked schemes, God’s anger is aroused, and He states in Deuteronomy 32:17, “They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known.” When you give your child their Easter basket, recall God’s words, and heed the Psalmist in Psalm 106:37,“They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons.” Know that you serve the same blasphemies that Romanism has brought into Christendom, and that the Scriptures rightly warns the covenant people of God that they should abstain from such things and be separate.
In spite of its pagan roots, for the average Christian the holiday of Easter is a time to think about the hope of life after death, the continuation of life, and the emergence of spring warmth. I have to admit, though, that if children eat a whole, big bunch of candy from their Easter Baskets it CAN bring out some demonic behaviors. (Half-way through eating her chocolate bunny my six-year-old began to levitate and bounce off the walls.) Nonetheless, chocolate does not involve a pact with the Devil prior to consumption, so I am okay with my children having some on Easter.
Peeps, however, are the work of Satan.