Friday Two Cents: Knowing Is Half The Fun


I know that I am posting today instead of Friday but today is the better day to post this letter. It has to do with Easter and today is Easter from many people. Being Catholic, this is considered to be the most holy and important date of the church calendar.   Yet for me it has always been a time of trial and tribulation. As well I never truly embraced all the celebration surrounding Easter and Lent. I understood it all and the religious significance but personally it was never my favourite time of year.

For those of you how do not know Lent are the 40 days before Easter to help Catholics prepare for Jesus to rise from the died. Many Catholics usually give up something or fast during this time. You are supposed to reflect on this time and give up a sin, say gluttony, so you give up sweets or vanity and you give up wearing lipstick, for the 40 days. Anyways I tried to get into the fasting thing but I don’t see that giving up something for 40 days makes me a better person.   They say you are showing your devotion to God, but if he is God shouldn’t he already know?

Traditional Easter eggs

Anyway I am not here to debate the traditions. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that something bad always happens to me during the Lenten season. From when I was about 10 something always happens to my family or me. All of my grandparents, some friends and people close to me have died around this time. I, or some one I know, gets hurt around this time. Unfortunate things also happen to me around this time. It is never a happy time, but this is not the extent of why I never fully embraced Easter.

Chocolate Easter Bunnies

Growing up, I always wondered why we celebrate Easter with bunnies and eggs.   I would always ask the questions but no one would give me a straight answer. I even asked my teachers and the priest at church why. They all said that they represent aspects of the Easter celebration, but never what they represent. Yes they said that the bunnies are a symbol of Jesus and the egg a sign of life, but that was it. Not until I started researching into the history of the celebration did I find the answers.

I discovered that Easter is taken from the pagan rituals around spring or the rebirth of the earth after the winter. Hmm rebirth, that is a lot like resurrection. Pagans would celebrate the rebirth of living things as a sign of the earth being reborn or resurrected after the death brought on by winter. As well, the pagans would use symbols like the egg as a symbol of life or birth. The bunnies were seen as signs of fertility, birth and life. We all know that rabbits are very fertile.

Easter: the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring.

This all started making sense to me, but I was still curious about why Easter was never celebrated on the same date like Christmas. What I found was very interesting. This also comes from the pagan celebration of spring or the earth being reborn. The set of calculations are complicated but it all makes sense. Easter is the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the first day of spring or vernal equinox. The vernal equinox this year was on March 20th, and the first full moon after this date was on April 4th, therefore Easter will then fall on the first Sunday after this date, which is April 5th.

When I found this out I began wondering why no one ever told me. Was it a conspiracy to keep the true from people or was it because people did not know. I asked me family and many friends and teachers and many of not all did not know this. I guess that people just go through the motions of things because they are traditions and do not ask why we do them. The fact that I found out where the traditions come from did not lessen my desire to participate in them. You see I continued my research and discovered that in the early years of the church, they had a lot of people who converted but others had a hard time. So the church helped the people to assimilate into the church teachings by adopting many of the pagan traditions. The spring rebirth celebration does fit into the resurrection of Jesus, the foundation of Christianity. I see no problem with it and if you think about Europe at he time, many people were illiterate and the best way to spread the faith was through local traditions.  

Easter is still not my favourite time but at least I understand where it comes from and the traditions around it. I just wished someone told me all this when I was younger so I could understand the traditions. I think that knowing the true behind the traditions did not diminish the celebrations for me, but enhance them.

For me knowing is half the fun.


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