The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

Good Riddance to the Easter Bunny

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Here comes Peter Cottontail,
Hoppin' down the bunny trail,
Hippity, hoppity, Easter's on its way.

Bringin' every girl and boy
Baskets full of Easter joy,
Things to make your Easter bright and gay.

I don’t know what’s worse—Veggie Tales substituting for Bible characters or the whole Easter Bunny, soft marshmallow chicks, colored eggs, and jelly bean menagerie somehow representing the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some communities in Florida are renaming the Easter Bunny the “Garden Bunny” and Easter egg hunts simply as “egg hunts.” Good for them. They can have the whole bunny and egg thing all to themselves. Easter is filled with more pagan symbols than Halloween. At least Halloween,[1] because it falls the day before the Roman Catholic holiday “All Saints Day,” is not considered a Christian “holi (holy) day.”

The history of the origin of the Easter moniker is hard to come by. Some argue that its origin refers to the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, Oestre or Eastre, whose mythical companion was the ultimate symbol of fertility, the always prolific hare. “Easter” first appears in the writings of the Christian scholar The Venerable Bede (672–735) in his book De Ratione Temporum (1:5). The reference might even go back further with an association with the pagan Babylonian goddess Ishtar. Other scholars trace a different history of the word:

Among Latin-speaking Christians, the week beginning with the Feast of the Resurrection was known as hebdomada alba (white week), since the newly-baptized Christians were accustomed to wear their white baptismal robes throughout that week. Sometimes the week was referred to simply as albae. Translators rendering this into German mistook it for the plural of alba, meaning “dawn.” They accordingly rendered it as EOSTARUM, which is Old High German for “dawn.” This gave rise to the form EASTER in English.[2]

It really doesn’t matter about the etymology. The Easter symbols we use today are enough to declare it “Baal-berith” (Judges 8:33; 9:4)—a mix of paganism (Baalism) and God’s covenant (berith is the Hebrew word for “covenant”). Without its Christian context, no one would ever associate these symbols with the biblical description of the resurrection.

Some point out that the word “Easter” is found in the Bible, so it’s a very appropriate word to use today. It’s true that “Easter” appears once in the King James Version of the Bible. Herod has put Peter in prison, “intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people” (Acts 12:4). The KJV has its translation faults, and this is one of its biggest. The original Greek text does not use the word “Easter,” but pesach, “Passover.” Why the translators chose Easter over Passover is beyond me.

Why is Easter not celebrated on the same weekend every year? Christians were celebrating the resurrection at different times. Jewish Christians celebrated the resurrection immediately following Passover, which, according to their calendar, fell on the evening of the full moon (the 14th day in the month of Nisan, the first month of the year). This often meant that from year to year, the commemoration of Jesus’ resurrection could fall on a day other than a Sunday. The Council of Nicea in 325 unanimously ruled that the Easter festival should be celebrated throughout the Christian world on the first Sunday after the full moon following the Vernal (Spring) Equinox.[3] This way, celebration of the resurrection always occurred on the first day of the week, our Sunday. But if the full moon should occur on a Sunday and thereby coincide with Passover, Easter would be celebrated on the following Sunday.

Today, most years Western Christian churches and Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Easter on different dates. This year, Easter is celebrated on March 27 by Western churches and May 1 by Orthodox churches. Why the different dates? Western churches use the Gregorian calendar,[4] the standard calendar for much of the world, and Orthodox churches use the older Julian calendar.[5]

We can cut through all of this stuff by coming up with a simple solution: Celebrate the resurrection on a yearly basis, in addition to its weekly celebration, the first Sunday after Passover with Monday being open season on rabbits.

Endnotes:

[1] It’s pronounced “hallow, as in “Hallowed be thy name,” and not “hollow,” as in “His head is hollow.”
[2] http://geneva.rutgers.edu/src/faq/easter.txt
[3] In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s called the “autumnal equinox” and marks the beginning of fall or autumn. “Equinox means “equal night.” On this day, both day and night are nearly equal in length.
[4]www.infoplease.com/ipd/A0463683.html
[5] www.infoplease.com/ipd/A0502060.html

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