Easter ended a couple of years ago in our household when the children left home. Hunting for chocolate rabbits and Easter eggs in the garden, including digging through the sandpit, remained a fun event for the kids and their friends right through to college. Church, Jesus, Bible stories – they were never a part of it. This was about nature, not religion. Spring, not sin. Eostre, not Easter.
Eostre (to the Northumbrians) or Eastre (to the West Saxons) was the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility. Eggs and bunnies. Flowers, nests, the rebirth of the world. March/April (in northern climes only), surrounded by birds, bunnies and mad March hares.
Paul built the legend of Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb to be a Mithraic story of the Blood of the Passover Lamb (instead of the blood of the Mithraic bull) taking away the sins of the world (a Mithraic, not Jewish, concept). This echoed so fortuitously with the springtime rebirth of the world that, as Christianity spread north, it simply adopted the preexisting springtime celebrations, and kept the name Eastre and the eggs and rabbits in order to help transition the pagans into Christianity.
For our adult sanity, we drop the idea of the Resurrection. For our kids’ enjoyment, we keep only the eggs and rabbits… and the old name Easter.
You’ll get no argument from me. Let’s not forget the fortuitous coincidence of the date of Easter being pretty much in sync with the spring equinox. (Fits in with your March/April statement).
Only one question, Greta: When are you folks Down Under going to start celebrating Easter in September/October? Is there any contrarian movement already started for that?