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Jesus IS Lord
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
May all who love this city prosper.
” -- Psalm 122:6

The Beginning of the
Easter Holiday Tradition

The Origin of Easter:

Easter is a pagan celebration which originated in the 2nd century, long before Jesus Christ was born and the birth of Christianity. Easter was a pagan festival celebrating the return of spring and commemorating the goddess of offspring and of springtime, Eastre.

In their attempts to convert the Anglo-Saxons of the north and to avoid bloodshed, 2nd century Christian missionarries very subtly introduced Christianity into their already existing Eastre festival. You see, the pagan festival of Eastre occured at same time of year as the Christian observance of the Resurrection of Christ. Missionaries cleverly spread their religious message by allowing pagan feasts to continue, but in a Christian manner. Over time the festival celebrating Eastre was changed to Easter.

According to scholars:

The name Easter is derived from Oestar, a goddess of Spring and Renewal. The rabbit or hare symbolize fertility, new life, and the moon in ancient Egypt and may have become a symbol of Easter because the moon determines the date for easter. Ancient Egyptians called the hare Wenu, an insignia of the rising of the sun, Ra, and the resurrective powers of Osiris.

Date of Easter:

Prior to 325 A.D., Easter was celebrated on different days of the week. In that year, the Great Roman Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea (at which Nicene Creed was adopted) and issued an Easter Rule: Easter shall be celebrated on the first Sunday that occurs after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. "Full Moon" is ecclesiastical full moon (the fourteenth day of a tabular lunation where day 1 corresponds to the ecclesiastical New Moon), and does not occur on the same date as the astronomical full moon. The ecclesiastical "vernal equinox" is always on March 21. Easter must be celebrated on a Sunday between the dates of March 22 and April 25.

Lent

Lent begins 46 days prior to Easter Sunday on what is called Ash Wednesday. Mardis Gras ("Fat Tuesday" feast, party, etc.) or "Carnival" as it has also been named, is celebrated the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. This gives everyone a chance to "get it all out" before the sacrifices of the Lent period begin.

The Cross

The Cross, a symbol of Crucifixion, was decreed the official symbol of Christianity by Constantine at the Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.). It is not an Easter symbol but is widely used (especially by the Catholic Church) as a year-round symbol of faith.

The Easter Bunny

This symbol originated with the pagan festival of Eastre who was worshipped by Anglo-Saxons through her earthly symbol the rabbit. This tradition was brought to America by the Germans and was widely ignored by other Christians until after the Civil War. Easter was not widely celebrated in America until after that time.

The Easter Egg

The Easter Egg is the oldest, universally used symbol of rebirth or new life. The tradition surrounding the Easter Egg predates the Christian celebration of Easter. It is a centuries old custom to celebrate sprintime. The Egg is a symbol of rebirth in most cultures. Eggs were often wrapped in gold leaf or peasants colored them brightly by boiling them with the leaves or petals of flowers, then given to friends.

A Polish legend is that the first Good Friday a man was taking a basket of eggs to market to sell and on the way he put the basket down and ran to help Christ carry the cross. Upon his return, the eggs were decorated in beautiful colors and designs. Many Polish continue the tradition of "Pisnaki" decorated eggs. Czechs, Romanians, Ukranians also follow this tradition. Many of the designs can have significant meanings and are handed down from generation to generation. Different symbols are characteristic of different regions. Eggs are always included in the food basket taken to church for the traditional Easter Saturday blessing.

The Easter Resurrection is symbolized by lambs, rabbits, lilies, crosses and the most popular for our time, the Easter Egg.

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