Am I the only person who is confused by the Christian holidays that we have and the symbolism behind the images used to mark these holidays?
The commercialization of these holidays has managed to completely throw the meaning behind them and, in turn, put confusion on some of us as to why they are celebrated as the focus has been shifted.
Take, for example, the Christmas holiday. This is a time when the Christian world is meant to be celebrating and remembering the birth of Christ. It is supposed to be a time of peace and goodwill to all mankind but we somehow end up celebrating jingle bells. Instead of concentrating on the birth of Christ, kids are more concerned with their gift list and convincing their parents that they were good throughout the year.
We know more about Rudolph and the rest of the reindeers than we do about the three wise men. A holiday, which is supposed to mark the birth of Christ, somehow has been turned into a celebration for a fat man in a red suit, with white beard and a sleigh giving out presents.
Now we are approaching yet another confusing one, which is supposed to be centered on the death and resurrection of Christ but, somehow, the bunny and the egg, which, by the way, I still don’t understand how they connect, always get the spotlight.
Easter is a Christian celebration marking the time when Jesus of Nazareth was crucified and then rose from the grave after 3 days. The date of Easter varies from year to year, taking place on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25. But history, through my research, shows that it wasn’t always this way.
Easter was originally a pagan festival. The ancient Saxons celebrated the return of spring with an uproarious festival commemorating their goddess of offspring and of springtime, Eastre. When the second-century Christian missionaries encountered the tribes of the north with their pagan celebrations, they attempted to convert them to Christianity. They did so, however, in an undercover manner.
As it would have been dangerous for the Christians at that time to celebrate their holy days with observances that were not related or did not correspond with celebrations that already existed, the missionaries decided to spread their religious message slowly throughout the populations by allowing them to continue to celebrate pagan feasts, but to do so in a Christian manner.
As it happened, the pagan festival of Eastre occurred at the same time of year as the Christian observance of the Resurrection of Christ. It made sense, therefore, to alter the festival itself, to make it a Christian celebration as converts were slowly won over. The early name, Eastre, was eventually changed to its modern spelling, Easter. (http://www.phancypages.com/newsletter/ZNewsletter2599.htm)
But this still does not explain where the rabbit and egg come into the whole mix of things. Since this holiday happened at the return/beginning of spring, to celebrate it, there were symbols that were used and the most popular of these symbols were, of course, the rabbit and the eggs. Rabbits were a reminder of spring and new life and they were also the spring goddess Eastre’s favourite animal, and the eggs as well were viewed as a sign of new life.
Basically this began as a holiday to celebrate and mark the beginning of spring and new life in nature that was later hijacked by the Christians to convert more followers, and that is why all the other early symbols of the holiday cannot be rid of because they are the reason the holiday was put in place to begin with.