April 7, 2007 at 2:17 AM #51404
The Origins of Easter Celebrations
Held on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25.
The meaning of many different customs observed during Easter Sunday have been buried with time. Their origins lie in pre-Christian religions and Christianity. All in some way or another are a “salute to spring,” marking re-birth. The white Easter lily has come to capture the glory of the holiday. The word “Easter” is named after Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. A festival was held in her honor every year at the vernal equinox.
People celebrate the holiday according to their beliefs and their religious denominations. Christians commemorate Good Friday as the day that Jesus Christ died and Easter Sunday as the day that He was resurrected. Protestant settlers brought the custom of a sunrise service, a religious gathering at dawn, to the United States.
Who is the Easter Bunny?Today on Easter Sunday children wake up to find that the Easter Bunny has left them baskets of candy.
He has also hidden the eggs that they decorated earlier that week. Children hunt for the eggs all around the house. Neighborhoods and organizations hold Easter egg hunts, and the child who finds the most eggs wins a prize.
The Easter Bunny is a rabbit-spirit. Long ago, he was called the” Easter Hare.” Hares and rabbits have frequent multiple births so they became a symbol of fertility. The custom of an Easter egg hunt began because children believed that hares laid eggs in the grass. The Romans believed that “All life comes from an egg.” Christians consider eggs to be “the seed of life” and so they are symbolic of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Why we dye, or color, and decorate eggs is not certain. In ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and Persia eggs were dyed for spring festivals. In medieval Europe, beautifully decorated eggs were given as gifts.
In England, Germany and some other countries, children rolled eggs down hills on Easter morning, a game which has been connected to the rolling away of the rock from Jesus Christ’s tomb when he was resurrected. British settlers brought this custom to the New World.
Dolly Madison – Queen of Egg RollingIn the United States in the early nineteenth century, Dolly Madison, the wife of the fourth American President, organized an egg roll in Washington, D.C. She had been told that Egyptian children used to roll eggs against the pyramids so she invited the children of Washington to roll hard-boiled eggs down the hilly lawn of the new Capitol building! The custom continued, except for the years during the Civil War. In 1880, the First Lady invited children to the White House for the Egg Roll because officials had complained that they were ruining the Capitol lawn.
It has been held there ever since then, only canceled during times of war. The event has grown, and today Easter Monday is the only day of the year when tourists are allowed to wander over the White House lawn. The wife of the President sponsors it for the children of the entire country. The egg rolling event is open to children twelve years old and under. Adults are allowed only when accompanied by children!
Traditionally, many celebrants bought new clothes for Easter which they wore to church. After church services, everyone went for a walk around the town. This led to the American custom of Easter parades all over the country. Perhaps the most famous is along Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Good Friday is a federal holiday in 16 states and many schools and businesses throughout the U.S. are closed on this Friday.
April 6, 2007 at 12:17 PM #51364
from Religious tolerance .org
Origins of the name “Easter”:
The name “Easter” originated with the names of an ancient Goddess and God. The Venerable Bede, (672-735 CE.) a Christian scholar, first asserted in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Similarly, the “Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility [was] known variously as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos.” 1 Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring: “eastre.” Similar Goddesses were known by other names in ancient cultures around the Mediterranean, and were celebrated in the springtime. Some were:
Aphrodite from ancient Cyprus
Ashtoreth from ancient Israel
Astarté from ancient Greece
Demeter from Mycenae
Hathor from ancient Egypt
Ishtar from Assyria
Kali, from India
Ostara a Norse Goddess of fertility.
An alternative explanation has been suggested. The name given by the Frankish church to Jesus’ resurrection festival included the Latin word “alba” which means “white.” (This was a reference to the white robes that were worn during the festival.) “Alba” also has a second meaning: “sunrise.” When the name of the festival was translated into German, the “sunrise” meaning was selected in error. This became “ostern” in German. Ostern has been proposed as the origin of the word “Easter”. 2There are two popular beliefs about the origin of the English word “Sunday.”
It is derived from the name of the Scandinavian sun Goddess Sunna (a.k.a. Sunne, Frau Sonne). 5,6
It is derived from “Sol,” the Roman God of the Sun.” Their phrase “Dies Solis” means “day of the Sun.” The Christian saint Jerome (d. 420) commented “If it is called the day of the sun by the pagans, we willingly accept this name, for on this day the Light of the world arose, on this day the Sun of Justice shone forth.” 7
Pagan origins of Easter:
Many, perhaps most, Pagan religions in the Mediterranean area had a major seasonal day of religious celebration at or following the Spring Equinox. Cybele, the Phrygian fertility goddess, had a fictional consort who was believed to have been born via a virgin birth. He was Attis, who was believed to have died and been resurrected each year during the period MAR-22 to MAR-25. “About 200 B.C. mystery cults began to appear in Rome just as they had earlier in Greece. Most notable was the Cybele cult centered on Vatican hill …Associated with the Cybele cult was that of her lover, Attis (the older Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus, or Orpheus under a new name). He was a god of ever-reviving vegetation. Born of a virgin, he died and was reborn annually. The festival began as a day of blood on Black Friday and culminated after three days in a day of rejoicing over the resurrection.” 3
Wherever Christian worship of Jesus and Pagan worship of Attis were active in the same geographical area in ancient times, Christians “used to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus on the same date; and pagans and Christians used to quarrel bitterly about which of their gods was the true prototype and which the imitation.”
Many religious historians believe that the death and resurrection legends were first associated with Attis, many centuries before the birth of Jesus. They were simply grafted onto stories of Jesus’ life in order t
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.