Thursday, April 5, 2012
There seems to be much scholarly discourse that links the Christian tradition of Easter to the Jewish tradition of Passover and to certain Pagan rituals and beliefs that came before them. There is even some dispute over the actual date of Christ’s death and resurrection, but the faith that each of us hold in our hearts cannot be in dispute. I believe we can all relate to that.
The name Easter may have first been associated with an ancient God, The Venerable Bede, (672-735). He was the father God of the Saxon people in Northern Europe who was known as Eastra.
Many Pagan religions in the Mediterranean area had a major seasonal day of religious celebration following the Spring Equinox. Cybele, the Phrygian fertility goddess had a fictional consort named Attis who was believed to have been born in a virgin birth and to have died and been resurrected during the March 22 to March 25th period around 200 B.C. Wherever Christian worship of Jesus and Pagan worship of Attis were active in the same area at around the same time, Christians and Pagans used to quarrel about which of their gods was the true one.
My own opinion is that we shouldn’t worry too much about what the experts say. I think its what you feel in your heart and soul that counts at this holy time of year. I think it’s your family traditions, your personal beliefs, and the religious rituals you have grown up with that really matter.
Easter has Judeo-Christian origins. The life of Jesus Christ as recorded in the gospels includes the Christian version of this theme. Good Friday is observed in remembrance of Jesus’ execution by an occupying Roman army, and his burial in a cave. Easter Sunday is the date when a group of his female followers first noticed that the tomb was empty, and concluded that he had been resurrected.
The timing of the Christian celebration of Easter is linked to the Jewish celebration of Passover. The name Passover was derived from the angel of death passing over homes of Jews, which were marked with the blood of a lamb thus sparing the first born of such homes. Liberal Theologians link Passover to ancient pre-Israelite Pagan rituals practiced by wandering Semitic shepherds in celebration of an agricultural harvest using unleavened bread.
Passover was the most important feast of the Jewish calendar, celebrated around the 22nd of March. The Synoptic gospels of Mark, Mathew, and Luke stated that Jesus’ last supper was a Seder or Passover celebration.
Most Christians believe that Jesus Christ was executed and buried just before the beginning of Passover on Friday evening. A minority believes that the execution occurred on a Wednesday or Thursday. Some liberal Christians have suggested that the early Christian Church arbitrarily selected Passover as the time thus allowing them to link the most important religious days in Judaism and Christianity.
Whatever your personal beliefs are, whatever the actual dates are, don’t let the skeptics amongst us deter you from celebrating your religious beliefs and traditions. Don’t let those of little faith keep you from believing.