The Origins of Easter

Easter which we celebrate every year has its roots in paganism, and Christianity. Paganism saw it as a Spring festival. Christianity as commemorating the resurrection of Jesus. Many countries call Easter: Passover, because it coincides with the Jewish Passover festival. Like Christmas, Easter has become more popular and prominent in recent centuries, due to social changes in our society.

By Hugh Finlay

In Europe, Easter was originally a pagan festival, a celebration of Spring, and for this reason it was celebrated at the time of the vernal equinox, when the days become as long as the nights (mid-March). It was a celebration of the blossoming of nature once again after the cold, dark months of Winter. The Easter eggs are a symbol of fertility, a time to start producing the next generation. The tradition of decoratively painted Easter eggs, goes back over a thousand years, in Europe.

The Christian Connection

So it was natural for Christians to celebrate Jesus's resurrection at Easter time, to coincide with the coming of Spring. The other important reason why Christians chose this time of the year for Easter, was that Jesus was said to have been executed at the time of the Jewish Passover festival. This most important of Jewish festivals, celebrating the liberation of the Jews from Egypt, is celebrated on the full moon after the vernal equinox. So,Christians, originally celebrated Easter, the time of Jesus's death and resurrection, at the time of Passover. However, at the Council of Nicaea in 325AD it was decided that it should be celebrated on the Sunday after the Jewish festival of Passover. Still, many countries continue to call Easter, Passover. Our English-speaking culture gets the word Easter from Eostre, a pagan goddess associated with the beginning of Spring.

Easter in Modern Times

In modern times Easter, like Christmas, have become more prominent, as they have become great family festivals, a great time for children to celebrate and have fun. With children, Easter eggs and Easter bunnies have gained great popularity, especially when they are made of chocolate. This is quite different from more ancient times, when Easter was more of an adults festival, involving drinking and other wild activities.

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