Ah, today is Easter. A day when we watch bunnies hopping around, and see kids laugh and giggle as they go and hunt for brightly-colored eggs. Families get together to eat a wonderful meal, and then perhaps they play games together, or go for a walk around the neighborhood. Easter means springtime is officially here!
Oh yeah, did I also mention that it’s the day when Christians celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
Unfortunately that fact – the whole basis for the day we celebrate as Resurrection Sunday (i.e. Easter) – is usually undermined by the whole egg/bunny thing.
How did this whole Easter thing get started, anyway? Is it in the Bible? Is it OK as Christians to do the whole “bunny thing?” What about the eggs?
I found some interesting documentation in my research on this topic, and I think I’ve barely scratched the surface of it!
First off, I learned at AllAboutJesusChrist.org, that the term “Easter” appears to have started way back in the time of Noah. Nimrod, one of Noah’s grandsons, turned away from following the one true God, and became a tyrannical ruler, promoting evil and perversion. Upon his death, his wife Queen Semiramis deified him as a sun-god, and he later began to be worshiped as Baal.
Then Semiramis gave birth to an illegitimate son, Tammuz. Somehow she was able to convince the people that Tammuz was actually Nimrod reborn. The people had been waiting for their promised Savior since the beginning of mankind, and were persuaded by Semiramis to believe that Tammuz was that savior. Before long, in addition to worshiping Tammuz (or Nimrod reborn), the people also worshiped Semiramis herself as the goddess of fertility. In other cultures, Semiramis was called by many names, including Ishtar, Ashtur and yes, Easter (AllAboutJesusChrist.org – emphasis mine).
Yikes – so the holiday name “Easter” came from a pagan evil queen…
So what about the bunny and the pretty colored eggs?
Unfortunately, my friends – these are pagan rituals, as well.
The bunny evidently first arrived in America in the 1700s by German immigrants who brought along their tradition of a hare which laid brightly colored eggs. The custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts (www.history.com).
Hmmm, nothing spiritual there…
And the eggs?
Well at least I finally found something that made me feel a little better about how the whole Easter thing.
What I found, is that “eggs” are actually an ancient symbol of new life. From a Christian perspective, the eggs are said to represent Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb.
Plus I found it interesting that one explanation for the decorating-eggs custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during Lent, so some people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of their period of penance and fasting, and then eat them on Easter as a celebration (www.history.com).
All of this stuff is nothing new, however. The great C.H. Spurgeon, the famous 19th century preacher, saw the same thing creeping into churches of his time. Pastor Gary Wilkerson quotes Spurgeon in his January 16, 2017 newsletter Clowns Amusing the Goats:
The Devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people with a view of winning them… The church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them…now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.
Whoa – Let me just say that all this was a lot for me to push through my brain this Easter Sunday, as personally I’d been finding it more and more difficult to focus on Jesus and His life-giving resurrection, as I see Easter bunnies and Easter eggs everywhere.
Don’t get me wrong. When I was little I loved Easter egg hunts and always looked forward to my Easter basket. But I didn’t know any different then, because I wasn’t raised in a Christian family. That’s what Easter was to me – bunnies, family gatherings and fun games. And quite frankly, I really don’t see a problem with having Easter egg hunts for the kids as part of an Easter festival.
But as Christians we really need to be more alert, and we should be bothered more by these trends. How have we allowed so many pagan traditions to seep into our families and our churches?
Shouldn’t Jesus be enough?