Happy Easter!

John 20:1-17

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”


I hope everyone who celebrates has a wonderful Easter!

While I have you here, I will reissue my annual reminder that Easter was not originally pagan in origin (internet memes are not always reliable teachers of history.) If the celebration had a pagan origin, you would expect that the whole of Christendom would call the holiday by its originally pagan name, wouldn’t you? Failing that, you would expect similar evidence of the original paganism to be present everywhere the holiday is celebrated, right?

In the countries where Christianity originated, Easter is called “Pascha” or a variant thereof. Pascha comes from pesach, the Hebrew word for Passover. Christians believe Jesus was the Passover Lamb of God. Christianity reached German/Saxon lands centuries later than other parts of Europe, and it is only in those German-Saxon places where you see “Easter.”

There are some theories regarding the German / Saxon origins of the term, though. From ChristianityToday:

One theory for the origin of the name is that the Latin phrase in albis (“in white”), which Christians used in reference to Easter week, found its way into Old High German as eostarum, or “dawn.” There is some evidence of early Germanic borrowing of Latin despite that fact that the Germanic peoples lived outside the Roman Empire—though the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes were far very removed from it. This theory presumes that the word only became current after the introduction of either Roman influence or the Christian faith, which is uncertain. But if accurate, it would demonstrate that the festival is not named after a pagan goddess.

Alternatively, as Hutton suggests, Eosturmonath simply meant “the month of opening,” which is comparable to the meaning of “April” in Latin. The names of both the Saxon and Latin months (which are calendrically similar) were related to spring, the season when the buds open.

In the United States, we often refer to Independence Day as “The 4th of July.” It seems likely to me that the origin of “Easter” as a holiday name stems from the celebration’s regular occurrence in Eosturmonath.

What about the eggs and the rabbits and all that? The most commonly held belief is that during the early days of Christianity, eggs were pickled during Lent, when the faithful abstained from eggs and/or meat, and then a celebration occurred on Easter wherein the pickled eggs were eaten. Over time, this celebration evolved to include entertainment for children – such as decorations and games where the eggs are hidden (not unlike the way stockings, milk and cookies, became a part of Christmas celebrations in the U.S.) Hares became synonymous with Easter because the holiday occurs in the Spring when the animals emerge from winter. Again, I would also add that these particular celebratory points were largely German in origin, and came about far after the celebration of the holiday began. There is a better argument to be made that paganism has been injected into Easter, over time, than to say the holiday has pagan origins, though I would not make that claim, either.

For a more thorough breakdown of the topic, I will direct you to articles HERE and HERE and also to the video embedded below.

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