Easter's Secret History
As a child I remember sitting through service on Easter Sunday. The longest sermon of theyear, although for some reason I was intrigued. Maybe it was because I knew that when I gothome a big Easter basket, a few new toys and so much chocolate candy that half of it wouldsee the following Easter was waiting for me at home.In all of my gluttony on Easter Sunday I never failed to question where my chocolate Jesuswas. Where were my chocolate burrow, or palm tree and crucifix? This is what Pastor Bobtalked about in his sermon every year. He never mentioned an Easter bunny, or an Easter basket. He never alluded to a biblical Easter egg hunt.As I would come down from my sugar high and smile proudly at my bounty of found plasticEaster Eggs filled with money and chocolate I no longer cared why, I was just happy it wasall mine. Now I'm thirty years old, with two little boys of my own running around the yard searchingfor their share of the Easter bounty, and I have to ask myself why all over again.Have you ever wondered why the celebration of Jesus Christ's crucifixion and resurrection iscelebrated with an Easter bunny and colored Easter eggs? Well, the answers may surpriseyou. They surprised me.Like many holidays, including Christmas, Halloween and Mayday, Easter's roots lie deep inthe pagan religion, dating back centuries before Christianity.Paganism is the earliest known religion. Although there are many facades of worshipencompassed in the pagan religion the most relevant description of pagan belief is theworship of the Goddess, otherwise known as Mother Nature. Despite popular belief pagansdo not worship Satan, practice human sacrifice or conjure up black magic.While most of us know Easter as the celebration of Christ's resurrection it was first a pagancelebration known as Eastre and celebrated in central and northern Europe. It was, and still isfor some, the celebration of the Vernal (Spring) Equinox and the Fertility Goddess, Eastre.The Christian church converted many pagans by infusing the Christian God and customs withalready existing pagan tradition and celebration rituals. Easter is one of many examples.Some may say it was an evil trick while others may say it was genius marketing. In order toconvert the pagans, Christians chose to celebrate on or around the dates of pagancelebrations, keeping most of the rituals and traditions intact and only substituting their God,their names and their religion.It is no coincidence that Easter and Eastre are nearly identical in spelling. Nor is it acoincidence that Easter takes place around the same time as the spring equinox. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Christ while Eastre celebrates the resurrection of spring.