Friday Two Cents: These Memories Are What Is Truly Important


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This past week I was talking to a few colleagues about Easter and what we all have played for this long weekend when the topic of the why Easter is always on a different date came up. This year it is on March 27 much earlier than most years, so I piped in and explained why.

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

I told them that I discovered that Easter is taken from the pagan rituals around spring or the rebirth of the earth after the winter. 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 March 23rd, therefore Easter will then fall on the first Sunday after this date, which is March 27th.
This symbolizes the rebirth of the earth after winter, which correlates with the resurrection in Christianity. 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.
A few knew about this set of conditions but others were surprised that the Easter celebration came from a pagan ritual. I explained that in the early church around the time of Constantine, he and many others in the church wanted to make the transition to Christianity much easier for many in the Roman Empire. They probably thought that placing the Easter celebration to correlate with the rebirth or resurrection of the earth celebration would help to convert and make the transition easier for the pagans in the empire.
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. Therefore, these symbols were adopted by the early Christians for the Easter celebration.
Many staff were surprised by this information as many others I have told in the past. Many would then ask why would I believe what Christianity preaches if I know they come from paganism. My answer is every religion comes from some other belief structure, pagan or other wise. What I belief has nothing to do with the dates or celebrations of my faith. The date of Easter may not have been the same as when Jesus died but I believe he died for us and was resurrected to give us hope.
I tell people that knowing where these rituals and traditions come from does not deter me from my faith but are simply dates that help me to remember my faith and keep these traditions alive. You see I have learned that keeping traditions alive help to ground us in our daily lives. I learned this thanks to my little nieces. They enjoy celebrations and traditions such as Easter, Christmas and yes even their birthdays and this helps to build memories with them that will last a lifetime. In the end those memories are what is truly important.

 

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