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March 31, 2013

Holiday Review: Easter Exposed!

In honor of the upcoming Rottentail graphic novel from us at Abnormal Entertainment, the Cheese presents the REAL scoop on this venerated holiday. WARNING: The following may seem blasphemous to sheeple.

Unknown to many Christians, the icons and traditions of most of the celebrations of Easter are from a pagan, or non-Christian, origin. According to the gospel, Easter is the celebration of Christ's resurrection and ascension into Heaven. It is a day of prayer, feasting and penitent worship. Most of the treasured and valued traditions of Easter celebrations, though, are the work of a much older pagan religions and simply have been adopted by first the Catholic church and then, subsequently, by the splinter groups, most prominently the Protestant sects.

 The dating of the Easter holiday indicates it was originally intended as a celebration of the Spring Equinox. The Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. set the date as the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Equinox as the day of celebration. The early Church followed suit and promoted that day as Easter. According to Venerable Bede, an English historian from the 8th Century, the name of Easter, like the names of the days of the week, are derived from old Teutonic mythology. Bede has written that it is derived from the Norse Ostara or Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, to whom the month of April is dedicated. Originally called Eostur-monath, April became a integral month in religious celebrations. The Greek myth of Detemer and Persephone (along with it's Latin counterpart Ceres and Persephone) detailed the idea of the goddess returning yearly from Hades to the light of day. Timing was very important and the legend converges with the Spring Equinox. In order to draw more converts into Christianity, Christ's resurrection was timed to match with the resurrection of nature from winter.

Hebrew celebrations center around the Equinox also and coincide with Easter. April was termed mensis paschalis, and many other names for Easter are taken from the root pasch. Jesus was crucified during Passover (pesach in Hebrew). The month of April has stood as a month of celebration for most religions. 

Easter rabbits are not a completely Christian or even Western convention of Easter, either. Rabbits were a pre-Christian fertility symbol for hundreds of years. Due to the rabbit's notable capacity for the abundant production of young in the spring, they were adopted as a symbol of rebirth. Often times, the rabbits were used as symbols of Christ's post-Resurrection appearances. They would appear and then disappear, and then seen somewhere else entirely. The first mention of the actual Easter Bunny, and his habit of leaving eggs lying around for children to find, apparently began in Germany in the 1500s. The belief was that the Easter Bunny laid red eggs on Holy Thursday and multi-colored eggs on the night before Easter Sunday.

The ancient Egyptians and Persians would give multi-colored eggs to one another at the dawning of the Spring Equinox. They were a symbol of creation, fertility and new-life. Apparently, the idea that a living creature could be born from an egg was awe-inspiring enough to promote the egg to mythical heights. Christians of the Near East adopted this tradition and the Easter Egg became a religious symbol. It represented the tomb that from which Jesus escaped into Heaven. Many times the eggs were colored red, representing the blood of Christ and given to children and servants as a special treat in the Middle Ages (eggs were a forbidden food during Lent).

Other conventions of Easter celebrations are very modern and were not practiced until recent times. Easter Lilies, for example, are a very popular representation of Easter celebrations throughout the West. The tradition is less than 100 years old when the first white trumpet lilies were brought to North America from Bermuda. Blooming in the Spring, coinciding with Easter, and quickly becoming an Easter tradition.

Many of the traditions and representations of the Easter Holiday are steeped in thousand-year-old beliefs and myths, and not uniquely Christian ideals. Borrowing from ancient Egypt and Persia, the mythology of the Greek gods, pagan Goddess worship and Norse deities and even Hebrew beliefs.

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