- There is a lot of confusion regarding what Easter Sunday is all about. For some, Easter Sunday is about the Easter Bunny, colorfully decorated Easter eggs, and Easter egg hunts. Most people understand that Easter Sunday has something to do with the resurrection of Jesus, but are confused as to how the resurrection is related to the Easter eggs and the Easter bunny.
- Biblically speaking, there is absolutely no connection between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the common modern traditions related to Easter Sunday. As a background, please read our article on the origins of Easter. Essentially, what occurred is that in order to make Christianity more attractive to non-Christians, the ancient Roman Catholic Church mixed the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection with celebrations that involved spring fertility rituals. These spring fertility rituals are the source of the egg and bunny traditions.
- The Bible makes it clear that Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week, Sunday (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2,9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1,19). Jesus’ resurrection is most worthy of being celebrated (see 1 Corinthians 15). While it is appropriate for Jesus’ resurrection to be celebrated on a Sunday, the day on which Jesus’ resurrection is celebrated should not be referred to as Easter. Easter has nothing to do with Jesus’ resurrection on a Sunday.
- As a result, many Christians feel strongly that the day on which we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection should not be referred to as “Easter Sunday.” Rather, something like “Resurrection Sunday” would be far more appropriate and biblical. For the Christian, it is unthinkable that we would allow the silliness of Easter eggs and the Easter bunny to be the focus of the day instead of Jesus’ resurrection.
- By all means, celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday. Christ’s resurrection is something that should be celebrated every day, not just once a year. At the same time, if we choose to celebrate Easter Sunday, we should not allow the fun and games to distract our attention from what the day should truly be all about—the fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, and that His resurrection demonstrates that we can indeed be promised an eternal home in Heaven by receiving Jesus as our Savior.
- To learn more about how Jesus’ death and resurrection provided for our salvation, please read the following article: What does it mean to accept Jesus as your personal Savior?
The key words from the above I’m focused on are…
- Essentially, what occurred is that in order to make Christianity more attractive to non-Christians, the ancient Roman Catholic Church mixed the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection with celebrations that involved spring fertility rituals. These spring fertility rituals are the source of the egg and bunny traditions.
For the “Easter” celebrations side of the subject apart from “Resurrection Sunday” compare to excerpts about May Day from Wikipedia…
- May Day is a public holiday usually celebrated on May 1. It is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival. It is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. Dances, singing, and cake are usually part of the celebrations that the day includes.
- The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the Floralia, festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, held on April 27 during the Roman Republic era, and with the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane, most commonly held on April 30. The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of spring, May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer.
- As Europe became Christianised, the pagan holidays lost their religious character and May Day changed into a popular secular celebration. A significant celebration of May Day occurs in Germany where it is one of several days on which St. Walburga, credited with bringing Christianity to Germany, is celebrated. The secular versions of May Day, observed in Europe and America, may be best known for their traditions of dancing around the maypole and crowning the Queen of May. Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of “May baskets,” small baskets of sweets or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbours’ doorsteps.
- Since the 18th century, many Roman Catholics have observed May – and May Day – with various May devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary In works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary’s head will often be adorned with flowers in a May crowning. May 1 is also one of two feast days of the Catholic patron saint of workers St Joseph the Worker, a carpenter, husband to Mother Mary, and surrogate father of Jesus. Replacing another feast to St. Joseph, this date was chosen by Pope Pius XII in 1955 as a counterpoint to the communist International Workers Day celebrations on May Day.
- In the late 20th century, many neopagans began reconstructing traditions and celebrating May Day as a pagan religious festival.
- May Day was also celebrated by some early European settlers of the American continent. In some parts of the United States, May baskets are made. These are small baskets usually filled with flowers or treats and left at someone’s doorstep. The giver rings the bell and runs away.
The common ground between Easter, Resurrection Sunday, and May Day is as spring restores life, Jesus also restores life.
I was born 5 March 1956. I remember celebrating Easter with Easter egg hunts and May Day with a similar hunt for hidden candies and May baskets from 1960 to 1965. At the public elementary school I attended, the teachers set up Maypoles for performing the Maypole dance…
On Easter there were Easter baskets, and on May Day there were May Day baskets…
During one of the May Day celebrations in the early 1960’s at home, hunting for candy, I remarked about having just recently done basically the same thing hunting for Easter eggs on Easter Sunday after church, as well as at school on the “Good Friday” before that. At that age there was some confusion between the purpose of the two holidays, as Easter was the focus rather than Resurrection Sunday – more about the Easter bunny than about Jesus. Even at church, after hearing the preaching about Jesus, then came the Easter egg hunts. Back in those days, May Day was noted on the calendar as a holiday. I wasn’t informed about “pagan” differences. My sister, 8 years older than me, explained the differences. My parents overheard it. My mother began making phone calls to parents of other students of the public school, as well as members of the church we attended, to talk about how the youngest children could be confused about the differences and purposes of those two holidays. The issue escalated to school administration and local board of education. There was a vote. A decision was made. Resurrection Sunday won out over Easter, and both Easter and Resurrection Sunday won out over May Day. No longer would May Day be celebrated by students at the elementary school grades K to 6. Apparently the idea spread across the country, and then May Day as a pagan holiday with activities similar to Easter vanished from being noted on most calendars! Even so, calendars still note Easter rather than Resurrection Sunday. I do wonder why Easter is not an official holiday like Christmas is with a day off – meaning the following Monday would be the day off. Even better would be if “Good Friday” were to be a day off as part of the official holiday weekend!
Although I recognize Resurrection Sunday as an adult on my conservative side, I also enjoy May Day as a spring celebration involving such activities as Medieval Fairs and Renaissance Festivals on my liberal side.
May 1st is my favorite day of the year for celebrating life. Independence Day and New Year’s Eve plus New Year’s Day have been my favorite holidays in the past because of the inclusion of fireworks displays during celebrations. As I became older I drifted away from what I refer to as traditional family holidays – such as Thanksgiving and Christmas – when most families gather for family events. I’ve tended to associate Memorial Day with spring showers since it almost always rains on Memorial Day holiday and weekend. Over the years I’ve barely noticed the Labor Day holiday.
Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday and Christmas have been the two holidays when many Christians – who rarely go to church – do attend church as part of the holiday’s activities.
Reported by Jim Lantern
Saturday – 15 April 2017
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