Easter, Passover or Chocolate Eggs
This is the time of year when the sun sticks around longer, trees grow new leaves, flowers pop up, new animals are born, and everything in sight seems to obtain a new touch of colour. This is also the time when Easter and Passover come around. Everyone celebrates this springtime holiday, in one-way or another. One person celebrates it very intensely, while another just indulges in chocolate eggs and rabbits and enjoys the extra long weekend. Easter can be celebrated in relation to a religion, or it can be celebrated with a different subject in mind. We all celebrate something, but the whys and the hows may vary between regions, provinces, countries, and continents.
In connection to Christianity this period of celebration is one of the most famous, known as Easter.. This is the celebration of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Although there are many important celebrations in the days leading up to Easter, the actual celebration takes place from Good Friday to Easter Monday. The Jewish equivalent to this spring holiday is Passover. This is a seven-day celebration during which Jewish people commemorate their liberation by God, from slavery in Egypt.
However, the spring holiday is not only celebrated as a religious holiday but also as a festival celebrating spring itself. In most parts of the Western World, the distinction between what is religious and what is not has often faded out of sight; as a consequence, many customs have become mixed up. Many Christians also paint Easter eggs and take part in egg hunts. In some European countries the Easter eggs also play a ceremonial role in the church service on Easter. Non-Jewish people eat Matzos and Non-Christian people eat Hot cross buns.
Even though there are numerous customs which are becoming more and more universal, there still remain many local traditions concerning the spring holidays. For instance Easter Monday in Ireland is also a memorial day for those who fell in the Easter Rising in 1916. In Germany and Britain, people have Easter Trees decorated with Easter eggs and games are played with eggs. In various catholic countries, Easter is celebrated in the community through a parade or procession, and the White House Easter Egg Roll is an Easter tradition in the United States. Moreover, in many countries there are reenactments of the biblical story of Easter and Easter Fires are not rare at all (Barry).
What is important to realize is that even by just looking at current celebrations of these holidays, it is hard to separate the Christian customs from the Jewish or the commercial customs. Imagine how increasingly difficult that becomes when you look even further back, to when the commercial aspects were not yet commercialised and when the Christian customs still resembled pagan Germanic celebrations considerably more than they do now. “All the fun things about Easter are pagan. Bunnies are a leftover from the pagan festival in honour of Eostre, a great northern goddess whose symbol was a rabbit or hare”. Moreover, the date of Easter is not a fixed one: it relies on the phases of the moon. (McDougall).
All things taken into account, it does not matter how you celebrate Easter, because even if you are not religious, your Easter customs prob-ably do find their origin in a secular or pagan tradition nevertheless. This also works the other way around; if you are Christian, your celebration may have originally been in honour of a pagan god or goddess. So not to worry, just enjoy yourselves. Happy Easter, Passover, Eostre, extra day off, etcetera!
by Lara van Oene
Barry, Aoife. “Easter: Fascinating traditions around the world”. The Journal. 2012. Web. 17 February 2015.
McDougall, Heather. “The pagan roots of Easter”. The Guardian. 2010. Web. 17 Februari 2015.