Friday, April 06, 2007

Happy Holiday! (Pick one)














Cultural historians find, in the celebration of Easter, a convergence of the three traditions - Pagan, Hebrew and Christian.

According to St. Bede, an English historian of the early 8th century, Easter owes its origin to the old Teutonic mythology. It was derived from the name Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, to whom the month of April was dedicated. The festival of Eostre was celebrated at the vernal equinox, when the day and night gets an equal share of the day.

The English name "Easter" is much newer. When the early English Christians wanted others to accept Christianity, they decided to use the name Easter for this holiday so that it would match the name of the old spring celebration. This made it more comfortable for other people to accept Christianity.

The Easter festival, as celebrated today, is related with the Hebrew tradition, the Jewish Passover. This is being celebrated during Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew lunar year. The JewishPassover under Moses commemorates Israel's deliverance from about 300 years of bondage in Egypt.

The Feast of Easter was well established by the second century. But there had been dispute over the exact date of the Easter observance between the Eastern and Western Churches. The East wanted to have it on a weekday because early Christians observed Passover every year on the 14th of Nisan, the month based on the lunar calendar. But, the West wanted that Easter should always be a Sunday regardless of the date.

To solve this problem the emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea in 325. The question of the date of Easter was one of its main concerns. The council decided that Easter should fall on Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. But fixing up the date of the Equinox was still a problem. The Alexandrians, noted for their rich knowledge in astronomical calculations were given the task. And March 21 was made out to be the perfect date for spring equinox.

The dating of Easter today follows the same. Accordingly, churches in the West observe it on the first day of the full moon that occurs on or following the Spring equinox on March 21., it became a movable feast between March 21 and April 25.Still some churches in the East observe Easter according to the date of the Passover festival.

Pagans, however still celebrate Eostre on the somewhat movable date of the vernal equinox.
In the Islamic world vernal equinox marks the celebration of the New Year.














Eggs and Easter have almost become synonymous. But . . .
"What is so Special in an Egg?"

It is the influence of the traditional spring rites that made Easter so egg-special. And myths coming down to us from an incredibly distant past have shown man's relationship with the egg to be very deep seated one. This is caught in old Latin proverb: Omne vivum ex ovo. This means "all life comes from an egg".

Not just the Latin saying, eggs are just laid well over all corners of the world. From ancient India to Polynesia, from Iran, Greece, and Phonecia to Latvia, Estonia, and Finland, from Central America the west coast of South America there are reports of myths of the whole universe created out of an egg. Thus, it is not unusual that in almost all ancient cultures eggs had been held as an emblem of life.

In Europe an egg was hung on New Year trees, on Maypoles, and on St. John's trees in midsummer. Indeed, all meant egg as a symbol of the regenerative forces of nature. Later during the Christian period, it was believed that eggs laid on Good Friday, if kept for a hundred years, would have their yolks turn to diamond If Good Friday eggs were cooked on Easter they would promote the fertility of the trees and crops and protect against sudden deaths. And, if you would find two yolks in an Easter egg, be sure, you're going to be rich soon.

Eggs were said to be dyed and eaten at the spring festivals in ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece, and Rome. The Persians of that time gave eggs as gifts at the vernal equinox. But it is not very clear how those colored eggs have come in to dominate the Easter basket In fact, they have become so popular with the Easter celebration, that they even started to dominate the ancient concepts of the symbolism of eggs. It is speculated that it was introduced in Europe, or, rather Western Europe, during the course of the fifteenth century. This was when missionaries or knights of the Crusades are thought to have brought in the concept of the coloring of eggs westwards.

3 Comments:

Blogger Bonnie Ferguson said...

Great post, Betty!!! Happy Easter :)

1:53 PM CDT  
Blogger Heather Harper said...

I read this post on Easter. I don't remember why I didn't post a comment...

Those are the most adorablest wittle bunnies EVER!!!

9:33 PM CDT  
Blogger X. Dell said...

Easter came and went, and I hardly noticed it. I suspect that a lot of Christian traditions began as pagan ones, though.

11:19 PM CDT  

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