Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Fools!

Bit late, but what do you expect when everyone is doing April Fools pranks? Some times you have to be careful. I'm still finding various pranks, and some are downright unavoidable. You know what I think the biggest prank of all was? Easter being in March! Certainly threw me for a loop. I knew it moved around a lot, but I've never actually seen it outside of April. Now that I'm old enough to pay attention, I realize it can jump around in a time span of more than a month! Which leads me to a question that has come up lately.

"What do Atheists know about Easter?

A great deal, actually. It's amazing what you can learn online when given enough initiative. For starters, it's not just one religious holiday, it's several rolled into one.

During the 7th century, the Roman Empire, back before they were catholic, would conquer neighboring countries. In order to better adapt their new citizens to their forced occupation, the Romans altered their own religion and their holidays to better match those of the religions they wiped out. This led to many combined holidays, such as Christmas and Easter. Easter, at this time, was probably known as Pascha, the Latin word for Passover.

When the Catholic church began the dominant religion, they, too, incorporated this idea of merging religions to adapt to shifting citizens. That's when Christmas came to be. This is also when Easter was combined with the resurrection of Jesus. With Jewish calendars being Lunar, as opposed to our own which is Solar, the day of Easter was placed onto the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. Since our Solar calendar now has this date set firmly at March 21st, Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21st. Unless, of course, you are from the other Christian factions who follow a different Solar calendar in the east, who place it about a week or so farther along in the year, with it still jumping around just as much.

Being stuck with the Gregorian calendar here in the USA, we had to buy our eggs and bunnies VERY early this year. However, why did we buy eggs and bunnies? What do they have to do with Jesus or Passover?

Current versions of the Easter celebration actually take their cue from the German Passover holiday, Eostre, in celebration of their pagan goddess, Ostara. Their Easter was based around spring, renewal, and new life. As such, the imagery commonly found at these celebrations happened to be symbols of fertility, including eggs and rabbits.

So, now you know more about Easter than most people in America. Go ahead and spread the word, especially to your Christian friends. You'd be surprised just how many of them will actually be pleasantly surprised by this information and thankful to receive it.

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