Easter - April 6 – 9 2007

Easter - April 6 – 9 2007

Easter - April 6 – 9 2007

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  • Author: Tom Knight, Mandy Carter, MyVillage

Easter - April 6 – 9 2007



Event
April 6 – 9 2007

Easter – what does it mean to you? You’ll either be in one of two camps, the first concerned with time off and chocolate, the second actually going to church and then possibly eating chocolate. Either way, chocolate usually figures quite highly – Thorntons must be rubbing their hands with glee.

Easter eggs and Lindt bunnies have been in the shops since roughly Boxing day, so how is it everyone waits until now to go out and buy? Go to any shopping street or centre and you will see people staggering under the weight of boxed eggs, which depending on what you get can seem more box than egg.

Religious references seem conspicuously absent in Easter promotions, as if the retail industry is boasting victory in its ongoing campaign to make public holidays into lucrative cash cows. But it’s worth remembering that this springtime celebration has had deep significance across the world since pre-Christian times, when neither chocolate nor bank holiday television existed.

Spring was the time for the proto-agricultural civilizations to give thanks for the passing of winter hardship and celebrate the coming of birth, and the season was thus the highlight of the religious calendar. Many of the conventions we associate with Easter are of pagan origin. Even the word “Easter” derives from “Eostre”, the name given to an Anglo Saxon goddess, and clear lines have between drawn connecting Easter with the traditions of “Eostremonat” (the Anglo-Saxon name for April). Parallels include the giving of “Ostern Hare” and “Ostara eggs”, although unfortunately “Ostern Swords” and hilltop celebrations at dawn have been dropped.

Of course, Easter is of deep significance to the world’s estimated 2.1 billion Christians. Although Christian denominations number into the hundreds, the vast majority of Christians regard Easter as the most important festival of the year. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly, it celebrates the humanity of God, the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ and the defeat of original sin (the thing that made the Old Testament so depressing). Secondly, it is a historic celebration of community: although it occurs around the same time as the Jewish feast of Passover, it has a very different meaning and so it separates Christians from Jews and Christianity from its ancient forebear.

Ours being a secular society but religious state, Easter in modern times is a holiday which everyone, no matter their religion, is entitled to enjoy. In other countries, Easter celebrations often widely and solemnly observed, and many local traditions can to outsiders appear quite shocking. Remember, when you’ve got your feet up on the bank holidays, Czech women are been chased around by whip-brandishing husbands and people are being routinely nailed to crosses in Mexico and Philippines.

Modern symbols of Easter are a mixture of ancient and Christian influences. We’ve already seen how the Egg, significant to Christians as symbolic of Christ’s rebirth, was a pagan symbol of fertility and the painting of them is a representation of the sunlight of spring. The Easter bunny, Easter chick, the daffodil and white lily flower also all represent fertility and new life. Hot cross buns depict the cross of crucifixion, but actually have their origin in the small cakes eaten by both Ancient Greeks and Egyptians to celebrate their various gods. To most of us Easter is now just as much about welcoming Spring in as it is about Christianity, apart from anything else it’s usually the last big foodie blow out before that crash bikini diet in time for the summer holidays. Just the fact that Easter is always related to bouncy baby lambs, cute fluffy bunnies, daffodils and ducklings is proof enough that the new life theme runs throughout even without the religious context.

Across the country big Easter events are going on in celebration of the festival, family fun days, Easter egg hunts and fun fairs are laid on in every area to bring the community together, welcome in spring and celebrate that extra time off work.


Tom Knight, Mandy Carter, MyVillage, 19th October

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