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Get Stuffed-Easter

Egg’s benediction

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A crucifixion, a resurrection, and for some strange reason, a rabbit hiding eggs in the backyard — what’s the deal with Easter anyway?

While I ran around the backyard looking for little coloured eggs, my face covered in chocolate and that yellow stuff in Cadbury Crème eggs, my religious friends popped by on their way to church for an extra long mass. Born and raised a godless heathen, I couldn’t understand why they weren’t on Easter egg hunts of their own. They explained to me about Jesus dying on the cross and then coming back to life, and I had to say that it was news to me.

My concept of Easter, painting eggs, waking up to chocolate bunnies, and going on a scavenger hunt, was a little different than theirs (and a lot more fun, from what I could see). But as much fun as I was having, I had to admit their concept of Easter seemed a lot more important than mine – surely they didn’t give me a whole day off school just to stuff my face with chocolate?

It’s many, many years later, and I still couldn’t figure out how two versions of the same holiday could be so different – reconciling the birth of Christ with Santa Claus was difficult enough.

The Pagan ‘Eastre’

The first mention of "Easter" goes back to so-called pagan times, and a spring festival for Eastre, or Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of spring, fertility, and the dawn.

All across Europe and Asia, villages would hold fertility rites to honour the gods. In return for all the blood sacrifices and good times, the gods would in turn make the crops grow and the farmer’s prosper.

The resurrection of Jesus was a new twist to an old theme. Tammuz, an ancient Babylonian god, also came back to life at this time of year, as did Osiris, an Egyptian god, and the Greek god Adonis.

The various rites practised at this time are responsible for our modern day traditions involving a bunny, little yellow chicks and coloured eggs.

The Easter egg tradition goes way back to the first civilizations, where it was believed that the world itself was born of an egg – heaven and earth hatched from a kind of world-egg. Like spring and the first green buds to break soil, eggs are also associated with the concepts of birth and creation. Eggs and egg symbolism were a part of ancient ceremonies that have been handed down through the civilizations.

Persians and Greeks exchanged eggs at their spring festivals before Emperor Constantine brought Christianity to these parts of the world. Because people are loathe to part with their traditions, it is believed that the eggs were simply adopted as part of the Christian ritual as an acceptable symbol of the Lord’s resurrection.

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