Easter Sunday: Reflection of life
Easter Sunday is the day on which the resurrection of Jesus has taken place. It always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. Once Easter (the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox) is determined, the six days before Easter Sunday are the days of the Holy Week. That is the reason why in our calendar, Holy Week varies in dates from year to year.
We learned that one of the many theories of the origin of the word Easter came from the name “Eostre”, a pre-Christian goddess in England who was celebrated at the beginning of spring. Spring is celebrated after the vernal equinox, as the coming back to life of plants and trees which became dormant in winter. It symbolizes rebirth. Thus, it becomes the natural time to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at this time of the year.
It is believed that Jesus Christ and His followers, being Jews, travelled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover which is the celebration of the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery under the Egyptian rule. It is the most important Jewish festival which is celebrated on the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This is the event that religious scholars considered in determining the time when Easter Sunday or the resurrection of Jesus Christ took place. He entered Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday, together with His disciples, to celebrate the Passover. Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the disturbance created at the temple in Jerusalem, were taken note of by the high priests and the Romans, and resulted to His arrest and execution. But Jesus Christ resurrected on the third day and this was the Easter Sunday.
Considering that Easter symbolizes rebirth, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ happened on Easter, it is easy now to relate to the meaning of Easter eggs, as the representation of new life and rebirth. The dyeing of eggs or even egg tapping (fighting) on Easter Sunday has been a practice by early Christians in medieval Europe that carries on to the present day Christianity, but with more elaborations such as Easter egg hunts and Easter bunnies. We learned that eggs were forbidden to be eaten during Holy Week and thus it became a real treat to eat them on Easter Sunday. The Easter bunnies came to be because bunnies are fertile animals thus it relates back to Eostre, the goddess of fertility.
The Easter egg hunt that parents or organizations hold for children on Easter Sunday does not have any biblical origin. It was believed to have originated as German tradition whereby the Easter bunny or hare (oschter haws in German) would leave colorful eggs for children who have been “good”. So on Easter, children would prepare nests and leave carrots there to attract the rabbits to the nests and leave their colored eggs for the children. This German tradition was brought to American shores in the early 1700’s. Soon, we would see Easter eggs out of chocolates in colorful wrappers.
It is not surprising that many take advantage of Easter Sunday for its commercial value, being an important event on Earth, along with the long holidays in celebration thereof such that its religious significance is diminished, if not even obliterated in the consciousness of many Christians.
No longer are the religious rituals truly practiced or the meditation and reflection on the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection in man’s mortal life observed. What are mostly emphasized are the tourist destinations, parties, and social gatherings with friends during the week. Fasting and abstentions as an aid to our reflection and recollection of our life’s direction, meaning and purpose are not observed.
By all means, let us celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, but it can only be meaningful if Easter is transforming our lives towards the purpose that He whispered to us in our recollection. After all, this is just a week in our year that we ask ourself: quo vadis?