Easter is an important holiday in several countries; millions of people celebrate this date and are attached to the customs that it provides. Christians celebrate in this holiday the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Jesus Christ as God and the Messiah have been commemorating this date ever since.
Since Easter is a celebration belonging to the Catholic Church and then the subsequent Orthodox and Protestant groups that separated from it, anti-Easter celebrations are direct affronts to these religions. Anti-Easter celebrations could be likened to anti-Ramadan or anti-Diwali celebrations.
However, Easter is a celebration that has brought several controversies over the years. Some religious groups do not celebrate this date, and even many Christians themselves are against how people celebrate Easter these days.
Other religions also complain about the widespread popular acceptance of this holiday, so the controversies get bigger. This situation makes people wonder if Anti-Easter is just an expression or bigotry.
Would Anti-Easter Exist Without the Church?
Christianity is one of the largest religions in the world, and it has over 2.4 billion practicing over the world. Millions of people in numerous countries participate in the Christian holidays and are devout followers.
Since Easter began with Jesus’ resurrection after his crucifixion, and has been safeguarded by the Church for nearly 2000 years, it follows that Easter would not exist today in any form without the Catholic Church. Any secular celebrations simply would not exist.
Historically, Christianity has its origins from the time the apostles and various Jews decided to follow Jesus and his teachings. Jewish Christians believed Jesus as the Son of God, and ever since Christianity and Judaism have evolved and adapted to emerging cultures with the same messages.
Easter and Holy Week mark part of the most important moments for Christianity and even Judaism since Passover happens at the same time.
Holy Week and Easter indicate the last days of Jesus’ life. On what people call Good Friday was the crucifixion of Jesus. Then, three days later was the supernatural resurrection of the Son of God.
After the resurrection of Jesus, the Apostolic Age began when the Apostles began their missionary activities and shared with others what Jesus taught them.
That was almost 2 thousand years ago! Since then, religions and traditions have undergone several changes, and some holidays like Easter and Christmas have been truly affected.
Anti-Easters exist not only in Christianity, but in Judaism and Atheism. However, Christian Anti-Easter claims to go back to original customs in attempts to avoid paganism and non-religious celebrations on that particular date.
Easter is a time to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus, but in the last century, this date has become a day where people play hide and seek to look for eggs, eat a lot of food, wait for gifts given by a bunny, and make chocolate eggs and bunnies. Then, the real question here is: are people celebrating Easter as they should?
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As it was mentioned above, the Christian faith is a religion that as an outcropping of Judaism has an unbroken line for around two thousand years.
As the religion was expanding over the world, many celebrations coincided with Easter;
- the celebrations of the equinox
- other pagan celebrations
- the original Jewish Passover that it corresponded to
Those celebrations have intertwined with Easter with the Church’s guidance. As long as the original intentions were not present and God and His son Jesus became the focus, some of these traditions were adopted and allowed alongside of Easter celebrations.
Some decry that the real meaning of Easter is lost when allowing other traditions to enter this time of year. This situation has brought several controversies over the years, resulting in Anti-Easter expressions.
The main controversy in Christianity regarding Easter is the celebration itself. Right after the resurrection of Jesus, Jew Christians started to commemorate important moments of the life of Jesus. As the years passed by, those known as Jewish Christians became simply Christians.
The Christian faith was persecuted for three hundred years until the Roman emperors Constantine I and Licinius in February 313 A.D. issued the Edict of Milan. This stopped the persecution of Christians and acknowledged them as a legitimate religion in the Roman Empire.
Even after Christian faith was legitimized in Roman society, many people still believed in their gods, and the customs of some pagan religions devoid of their original intent joined with Christianity traditions.
Some of these traditions were related to the coming of Spring, fertility, and agricultural planting celebrations. Much of what we see today in secular Easter celebrations are outcroppings of these traditions.
Yet, there is not an exact moment where the Easter Bunny, the eggs, and another non-religious custom joined Easter. However, some historians believe these traditions arrived in America with the arrival of the Germans.
From their arrival on the East coast, these customs spread over the country, and since the United States had a big influence over the world, the Easter Bunny became an iconic representative character for Easter.
Giving gifts on Easter has become a popular custom in the last few years. In the recent past, people would give baskets filled with chocolate Easter eggs, and cards. Nowadays, people are giving more expensive gifts, and spending more money on Easter gifts.
What about celebratory gifts that are given as Anti-Easter Gifts? Are these direct affronts to Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians?
Gift giving with the intent of opposing a religious view is not innocuous, but offensive to the religion and its followers. Anti-Easter gifts done in private, can be in the realm of free personal expression. Yet, when it becomes an open celebratory act, it can cross the line into offense.
Can this be said of gift giving in total on Easter, or is this just a problem revolving around the intention of the gift giving?
Historical Gift Giving On Easter
In the middle ages, people used to give food to others after observing Lent. Today during Lent Christians are not allowed to eat meat on Fridays or on Ash Wednesday. Hundreds of years ago, no meat was allowed during Lent at all, along with other fasting restrictions.
Since Lent lasts 40 days, it became a custom in some areas of the world to give food to others, mostly the poor.
People in more recent times gave the famous baskets filled with chocolate eggs; though, this originated from pagan customs.
Nowadays, people are giving expensive gifts, and even leaving aside the baskets of chocolate eggs.
Gifting on Easter is far from the original intention some would say. Others state that people hardly remember to help the other on those dates. Though there are those that offer during church services, one would be hard pressed to see the Spirit that Christ’s resurrection heralded in day to day life.
Giving gifts during Easter is unnecessary if people have forgotten the real meaning of this important date and why Christians commemorate it.
Gift Giving Directly Opposed To The Easter Meaning
There are some more recent traditions coming from those not only reluctant to profess the Christian faith, but from those openly opposed to it. Though opposition to any religion, creed, or value is a free personal choice, open displays can become problematic.
Some trends have seen black roses or other flowers given on Easter as a sign of open defiance to the Church and its teachings. Though this can be acceptable and within the rights of each individual as a personal expression, it is different than simply being a non-believer.
Instead of simply allowing those with religious intentions to practice, these individuals go above and beyond to give these gifts publicly or sell them openly as Anti-Easter gifts. This would be akin to promoting Nazi symbols or Klu Klux Klan clothing.
Personal expression ends where infringing on other’s to express their religious views begins.
Easter eggs have an origin in pagan traditions. They originally noted new birth and even fertility. Since the resurrection of Jesus and the spring equinox happen almost simultaneously, Christians over the years acquired several pagan customs of the old civilizations, which they started to practice on Easter.
Anti-Easter Eggs is a term that has two different meanings. Some see all eggs associated with Easter as having pagan origins and therefore call them all Anti-Easter eggs. Then there are those that make or sell black eggs to openly oppose Christian Easter celebrations.
People started using Easter eggs in middle ages. Almost everyone joined in the celebration of the spring equinox and commemorated the new birth of the land, animals, and people.
The Myth of Eostre (Pagan Fertility Godess) And Easter
The myth goes like this…
The spring and the Goddess Eostre brought new opportunities, prosperity, and fertility to the people of Europe and especially Germany. They knew of older pagan gods and goddesses that espoused fertility and prosperity to their followers.
It is believed that these later Europeans adopted the view that eggs resemble all those qualities. They used to give eggs to the people as a form of wishing them prosperity and fertility.
Most historians and scholars reject this myth for several reasons…
- The word does not appear in any original texts from the first centuries after the resurrection of Christ.
- The word used in Latin is Pascha as well as in the ancient Greek.
- Pascha corresponded to Pesach in Hebrew for Passover.
- Easter is believed to come from the German word Ostern.
- Ost in German means east which corresponds with traditional views of Christ as the rising sun.
- Most Cathedrals and churches in the Catholic Church ‘face’ East for this reason.
The list goes on. It indicates how unlikely the Christians who throughout the centuries fought ferociously against paganism in the Church would be to adopt overt pagan deity veneration.
Another Interesting Easter Egg Theory
There is another side of the story behind giving Easter eggs. During Lent, people are not allowed to eat any animal products such as milk, cheese, and eggs (On certain days today).
Centuries ago, people didn’t have the same electronic products to save food. Without refrigeration, they boiled the eggs and gave them to the poor people. Since Lent ends when Holy Week starts, people used to give the eggs at this time.
Because of the similar dates and customs, Christians started to give chocolate colorful eggs instead of the hard-boiled ones.
However, people have other ways to help the poor people these days; then, should people give Easter eggs on Easter? It is not necessary to give on Easter, instead, Christians should offer in honor to the resurrection of Jesus, and donate to the poor.
If Easter eggs are something you enjoy, as long as it is not in protest to someone’s faith, then by all means, hand out or even hide eggs. Most everything good or bad in an action is found in the intentions.
Wrapping Up Anti-Easter Celebrations…
Easter can be celebrated by believers in the Christian religions and by those that simply like the trappings of the time of year. Bunnies are more than likely a link to the fertility celebrations held by various cultures, but eggs have more to do with giving to the poor after Lent than with fertility.
It should be noted that using any of these symbols or traditions, or any variation of them to directly oppose the religious views of another is not only offensive, but bigoted. Everyone is entitled to their own views without open ridicule or disparaging.
Giving gifts with the intent of opposing a specific religion and its traditions are squarely in this arena.
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