Few holidays are steeped with so much meaning as is Easter. Unfortunately, not even Easter is exempt from being drowned in the myriad of meaningless advertisements for the sole purpose of selling something. I can’t remember a time when I came across an ad not sponsored by some church that aimed at educating the public or commemorating the true meaning of Easter. Perhaps it is because the meaning isn’t as solidly based on Christian beliefs as we may have come to understand.
The tradition of Easter is a borrowed one, taking aspects from many cultures not having much or anything to do with Christian observances. According to theholidayspot.com, the term “Easter” comes from an Anglo-Saxon goddess named Eastre, and the practice of giving eggs can be traced to ancient cultures like the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks.
The website for the Restored Church of God states that Easter was so commonly understood to have pagan origins that early Puritan settlers in America were suspicious of its celebration because (quoting Steve Englehart, author of Easter Parade: Welcome Sweet Spring Time!, p.4) they ‘”…knew that pagans had celebrated the return of spring long before Christians celebrated Easter, [therefore], for the first two hundred years of European life in North America, only a few states, mostly in the South, paid much attention to Easter.”‘
In my upbringing, Easter had a direct connection to church and religious meaning because of my mother’s efforts. Unfortunately for my mother, I could never fully internalize the true meaning of Easter or its importance. I know now that, as stated in religionfacts.com, the tradition celebrates the resurrection of Jesus three days after being crucified.
I know I am not alone in this lose grasp of the significance of our holidays. People wouldn’t trample each other on Black Friday to score a great bargain for Christmas gifts if Christmas was actually solely about celebrating the birth of Christ. Likewise, the Easter Bunny would be out of a job if we focused on the actual Christian meaning of the holiday.
Perhaps the only thing that matters is that we have traditions to claim as heritage no matter what they truly represent, or where they came from. After all, isn’t this what makes up the bulk of the American profile?