Oh how our Christian holidays have changed. We invented a fat man to bring gifts to our children, instead of celebrating the birthday of our Savior. We then added a bunny to bring baskets of candy & stuff to our children, instead of celebrating the gift of sacrifice Christ gave to us. Why?
Is it so hard for us to look at the whole journey to the cross that we have to soften it with a bunny? What’s the deal with the colored eggs? Until now I really never gave it much thought. I grew up with a great Mom who loved to give gifts. Easter was no different. New clothes for Easter was a signal that Spring was here! Black patent leather shoes were a must (and considered a torture device that wrecked my feet). But why??
According to History.com ‘Eggs are representative of new life, and it’s believed that decorating eggs for Easter dates back to the 13th century . Hundreds d of years ago, churches had their congregations abstain from eggs during Lent, allowing them to be consumed again on Easter. In the 19th century, Russian high society started exchanging decorated eggs-even jewel encrusted-on Easter.’ So that explains the egg thing.
The Easter Bunny is believed to originated in Germany and came with the immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700’s. They had “Osterhase” a egg laying hare. Children would make a “nest” for the bunny to lay the colored eggs. Leave it to the Americans to expand the laying of eggs to include chocolate candy. Other countries have foxes or cuckoo birds instead of the bunny. So, there is the Easter Bunny.
But again, the question still remains, why? Why do we have the need to add to a Christian holiday (celebration) in order to celebrate? We add and it takes away. So, how do we take back our holidays? By incorporating more traditional elements. Focusing on the journey to the cross. Looking to the scriptures instead of Hallmark.
Ancient church leaders established our holidays to take away from Pagan holidays. (Learned that in college in a class I took, the only thing I remember from that class.). The Pagan holidays of Winter celebrated other Gods, the hunt or something other than Christ’s birth. Missionaries adopted Yule Celebrations in order to appease and convert pagans. The Spring had its own pagan celebration. (Enough of the history lesson)
I have been camped out in John during this Easter season. The celebration of Lent had me restricting my intake of wine, but also reading a book “40 Days of Decrease” but Alicia Britt Chole. I am walking through the journey to the cross, reflection of different parts of that journey, and fasting from a variety of things. The fasting is not necessarily from food. It is at times fasting from an emotion, an idea or a belief. It is changing my prospective of how I celebrate Easter and Lent. For years I gave up something for Lent because I was brought up in a Presbyterian church, it was what you did at Easter. You abstained from something as a representation of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert. I gave up cokes, chocolate or something else I felt I could live without for 40 days. I would fail every time. I was not giving up something with the right mindset. I wasn’t doing it to honor God, to show a sacrificial heart. Now I was doing it because of tradition.
This year, I have spent more time in scripture and the journey Christ took to the cross. I have allowed myself to fest on the different aspects of that journey. The betrayal of Judas, the betrayal of Peter, the heart break of Peter, the triumphant ride into the city, the humiliation of Christ, and finally the crucifixion. In walking through this journey, I now see Easter with new eyes (slightly offended by the Easter bunny but kinda don’t want to break the tradition—I’m working on it). So I am going to challenge you, look at the journey to the cross and experience all that that journey holds from the point of view of “He did this for me.”
John 20:29 “Jesus said to him (Thomas), ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND YET HAVE BELIEVED.’” I believe. I want to celebrate the journey to the cross and resurrection of MY Savior. How do you see Easter? Through traditions? Through the innocent views of paintings of the crucifixion? Or do you dive into scripture and picture yourself standing in the crowd watching it unfold, feeling the pain that was inflicted. When Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection his first words to them was “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19) And so, I say “Peace be with you.” (And if you were raised in the Presbyterian church you would respond, “And with you also.”)