Here we are at the Vernal/March/spring equinox doing something humans have been doing since long before the Abrahamic religions. We are celebrating the coming of spring. The time of year that we can safely start to plan the planting of the food that will sustain us another year. A time when rabbits multiply like… well… rabbits and birds start to lay their eggs. A time that marks the end of the cold dark season and the beginning of the warm light. The rebirth of our planet and the life it sustains.
Imagine how frightening it must have been for humans when we didn’t know for sure if the warm season would ever return at all. It must have given us great comfort and satisfaction to be able to predict with accuracy the coming of spring. And when it did come, it was a time of weeks of great joy and celebration. We made it through another winter and the good life is just around the corner.
So what better time of year for a religion to establish their own sacred holidays? When people are already celebrating anyway, why not just make that day a religious day and own the festivities? This is precisely what Christianity has done in the case of the winter solstice and the Vernal equinox – Christmas and Easter. The two most important holidays of the Christian religion are not celebrated on the most significant days of the year by chance. It was a very clever way for the religion to own the celebrations deeply ingrained in the ritual behaviors of the human race. A sort of hijacking of something long held sacred and attributing importance not to their deeply profound meanings in the context of a post ice-age Earth that humans survived and arrived, but to a specific god that we are to thank for it all. No. Don’t thank the elliptical orbit of Earth or the 23% tilt of our axis for the season changes. Thank God.
I survive Easter by educating people so they may understand truth rather than myth. For example, the name “Easter” is not a Christian word. It is derived from the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre. The Goddess of the dawn. The word meaning “the month of opening.” Easter is called Easter because it is easier to hijack a holiday by making some compromise with the original spirit of the holiday. In Italy, where the Christian religion was officially launched, they still call it “Pascha” which means “Passover.” It is the “barbarians” to the north that were appeased by using the word Easter.
I like Easter. And I don’t see any need to change the name as the name is the same as the pre-Christian observation. I don’t see a need to reject the Easter bunny as this symbolizes fertility which is what spring is all about. The same goes for eggs. Eggs are also symbols of fertility. Atheists like me can go mostly undetected by theists in my celebration of Easter as the original rituals have been somewhat preserved by the northern Europeans who brought their long standing traditions to the United States.
As for the problem with the Christian takeover, I don’t really see it as a problem. Who is to say that Easter wasn’t something else before the Germanic Goddess hijacked it? And so on. This is just the way we humans hold onto a very special time of year when days get warmer, colors get brighter, food becomes abundant and outdoor activities resume in full force – including work and play. It is the time of year we become the most productive and we stimulate our economy. There is a lot to celebrate this time of year and I am about to go into my kitchen right now and prepare a big breakfast and then divide the chocolates between my good friends who are staying with me this weekend who also happen to be Christians. I may or may not give them my “sermon” this morning. 😉
Follow-up: The subject never came up and so my guests were spared the history lesson.