Today in History: Easter

Easter

Easter is a major religious event in Christianity.  Easter marks the third day after Jesus’ crucifixion at Golgotha.  After enjoying His last supper, Jesus was betrayed by His best friend to the Romans.  He was humiliated, tortured and killed.  Three days later, He was resurrected.  Easter is the celebration of Jesus being risen.

In Christianity, Easter marks the end of Lent, a 40 day period of fasting and penance.

Easter is also associated with the Jewish celebration of Passover, but only because of the proximity of the dates of the two celebrations.  For those of you who do not know the origins of Passover, it has to do with the exodus of the Jews from Egypt.  When God smote the first born sons of the enslaving Egyptians, the Jews marked their doors with the blood of lambs so that they would be passed over.  There are also some interpretations of the Bible that indicate Jesus may have given new significance to the Passover meal.  According to the letters to the Corinthians, Jesus told His disciples to get rid of the old bread and wine for bread without yeast to symbolise that His body was about to be sacrificed.

The date of Easter changes year to year because it follows a specific cycle of the moon.  In the year 325, the Nicaean Council determined that Easter would be the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs after the vernal equinox, so Easter can occur as early as March 22 and as late as April 25.  Eastern Orthodox Christians utilise the old school Julian calendar (which came before the current Gregorian calendar) to determine the date of their Easter celebration which can occur between April 4 and May 8.  There is also some controversy involving the dates of Easter.

The Easter bunny and Easter eggs come from pre-Christian paganic ideals.  The rabbit is a symbol of the fertility goddess Eostre (which is where the word Easter came from).  Brings new meaning to the phrase “humping like rabbits.”  The egg is also a symbol of fertility.  Obviously, spring time is a season of new beginnings and fertility, which is why the pagan rituals were usually observed during the Vernal Equinox (first day of Spring).

The goddess Eostre saved a frozen bird by turning it into a rabbit that could still lay eggs, and that is where the Easter bunny came from.   How the coloured eggs fit in, nobody knows but German immigrants brought the story of Osterhas (The Easter Bunny) to the U.S.   The Germans told their kids if they behaved the Easter Bunny would bring them eggs and candy.

Some Christian denominations do not use the term “Easter” because of its pagan connotations.  Instead, they  use the term “Resurrection Sunday.”  There are also certain Christian denominations that do not celebrate Easter at all.  Some Christian denominations associate Easter, along with Christmas, with pagan ideals and the worshiping of idols.  Their beliefs are based on a passage found in 2 Corinthians 6:14:

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

Western Christian groups such as the Jehovah’s Witness, Quakers, and other fundamentalists reject Easter for various reasons.  Quakers believe that all days are the Lord’s day and that to put one day more special than another encourages that the lesser days can be lived in sin.  Jehovah’s Witnesses prefer to commemorate Christ’s death rather than His resurrection.  In addition, there are other Christians that do not celebrate Easter on the day that it is commonly celebrated in Western society.  They prefer to use the “original” date of Nisan 14 (from the Hebrew calendar) as opposed to computations determined by the Nicaean Council.

Bizarre fact:
In the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, women are spanked with a special piece of whip with coloured ribbons on Easter.  The spanking is not painful nor intended to cause harm.  It is said that the woman will keep her health and beauty if she is spanked.  The men do the spanking, and afterward the women can have their revenge by throwing cold water on the men later on that afternoon.  The women will then pay the men a small amount of money and a coloured egg.  Women who don’t get spanked usually get pissed because they were passed over.  In parts of Poland, Easter is celebrated with an all day water fight.

You didn’t know before and now you do.

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