It is Easter time. But what does Easter mean and why is Easter Egg used in some cultures of the world? Easter is, in deed, focused on cultural epi-centre of the Christian Faith - a celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By Easter, redemption is given and re-enacted and salvation is fully hoped for. Without Easter Christianity is DEAD! This essay highlights that Easter is unique and serves as the ultimate fulcrum of Christian faith. Easter offers that moment of renewal of the Christian life in line with that of Jesus Christ as saviour and redeemer of humanity for eternal bliss.
As such, "J E S U S can't be spelt without you. In search of you, HE died, was buried, and was raised again. His destiny was the Cross. His vision was Love. His mission was you. As CHRIST rose above the obstacle of the grave-hell, you shall rise above life's hindrances” (Ifeoma Esomonu, April 8, 2012; culled from FB post).
The celebration of Easter marks the cultural idea and performance of remembering our redemption from our sins, a rebirth to earn eternal glory. Easter day is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death. Easter is therefore a time of Christian culture to remember Christ's eternal gift, and how Easter in itself gives us grand hope. For every Christian, we are taught that failure to attend mass on Easter day or participate in Easter culture is a grave sin (njo ogbugbu, njo na-enweghi mgbaghara). Effort is expected of every Christian to participate in the long preparations for Easter marked by duration of what is called ‘Lent’, a period of fasting and prayers. Abstinence from excessive pleasure, opening of a wider opportunity of giving alms to the needy, including the re-enacting of our Christian beliefs and faith in line with the sufferings of Christ – also known as Stations of the Cross are all invoked into action.
Devotion to prayers is heavily emphasized as well as living close by the examples of the genuine life of Christ himself as the son of God. We are encouraged to imitate Christ as a model of all that is good and enduring for God and humanity. To celebrate Easter is to celebrate the risen Lord as a mission accomplished. That is, the defeat of death at the cross of suffering and to offer redemption and hope. By dying, Jesus Christ showed us that we must not be afraid of death but to do good by living a good quality of life. His battle with death is to redeem us through the resurrection of his own life under sealed contract with God forever.
Within this contractual spiritual unity and purpose with the Almighty God, we humans shall have neither fear nor favour to stand being cheated by death and its principalities. We are absolutely covered by the precious holy blood shed on the cross of death and subsequent resurrection from the hell of death. The Christian faith was emboldened and continues to be sustained by the resurrection story and its sacred application to our Christian life and culture. Easter days like Good Friday marks the day Jesus Christ was nailed to or crucified on the cross. He was buried but on the third day, being Sunday, he rose from the dead. The news of that calling Him back to life and in heaven fulfilled the scriptures that we celebrate on Easter through songs and music of “Oh come let us adore him” and “Christ is raised/risen” for us to live in God. Christ is a symbol of affection and desire for life at the very cost of death for all humans.
As I have to stress the point, Easter comes from Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified at the time of the Passover ritual. Three days later, as mentioned earlier, Christ rose from the dead. That is to say, He was resurrected and for that we celebrate the everlasting moment of his spiritual turning point on Easter Day.
As reported by www.about.com sources, "The word Easter is from Eastre, a Norse goddess whose pagan festival was observed at the spring equinox. The association of this pagan goddess with the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was only by adaptation and synthesis. There is no real connection.... It thus became a springtime anniversary, and has come to be called Easter in the Christian world" (Bible Dictionary: Easter).
For Easter and Jesus Christ as a factor of celebration, it has to be understood that when Christ was crucified on the cross He gave up His life through the separation of His body and spirit. His body was laid to rest in a tomb while His spirit, which was still alive, was in the spirit world. While there, Christ taught His gospel to those in that sphere of spiritual prisonalization and personalization. By and large, when it became three days, Jesus Christ was resurrected. That means He returned to life. This suggested that His spirit returned to His body. Christ's crucifixion, death, and resurrection are all major parts of the atonement and are what we passionately remember and celebrate at Easter.
The first day Jesus was resurrected started the first Easter we celebrate up to today. Resurrection means that the sacred body of Jesus Christ became immortal, never to die again and that He still lives and is with our Eternal Father in Heaven; forever. That Christ appeared to many people including several women, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, His apostles, and hundreds of other men is to lay concrete proof of Himself as the way, truth and hope. The Book of Mormon also claims that Jesus Christ appeared to people in American continent. Reference to Joseph Smith as a Prophet is in line with this. All of this was to keep the faith of evidence of his mystery and realism.
We celebrate Christ's Gift at Easter in the Christian world to represent the resurrection of Christ Himself. It is this to which we celebrate every year in the spring weather following the seasonal changes in North America among others. It is so because of the atonement to show us that death is not the end. The argument is that we may not likely be resurrected after three days, like Jesus was, but someday we will all be resurrected as redeemed beings and have a perfect body of comfort and of unchanging nature.
By experiencing death and resurrection, salvation from physical death became one of the things Christ's atonement achieved and does for us. It is primarily a gift that all of us, delivered through birth on the earth, will pick up. Remembering Easter and Christ's atonement is to call to mind the very Christ's gift of immortality that was freely pre-arranged and offered to us.
As such, Easter gives all of us big hope and equality too. Easter is a special holiday to celebrate because remembering Christ's atonement and resurrection brings hope and faith. When we celebrate Easter, let us all remember that we are culturally doing our Lord’s Day. It is certainly the celebration of the greatest victory of all times, the victory over death. Christ died so that we may be redeemed and have a good life – physical and spiritual. And, whatever and whoever can give life and hope is worth celebrating. Let us know that Jesus is the Christ and that He suffered and died for each of us. Let us also know that He was resurrected and lives on. It is best that “Easter is a beautiful holiday when we can remember Jesus Christ and worship Him as the Son of God and as our Savior and Redeemer”.
Why Easter Eggs?
Across the world, people in society celebrate Christian experiences and livelihood with the symbols of their culture. For Africans, particularly Nigerian communities, Easter is uncommon and unpopular with Easter-Eggs. However, globalization has been making in-road with imported cultural and religious symbols. This brings me to the question: The history of Easter eggs is about what? Like Christmas, there is a special Easter food that is said to be symbolic.
Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, writing in 2009, describes in “Easter Goodies” what can be considered as a pretty much common knowledge of the fact that Easter is a Christian celebration of Christ's rising, but the use of Easter eggs has pre-written cultural origins. Questions raised included, where did the coloured eggs, cute little bunnies, baby chicks, leg of lamb dinners, and lilies come from? They are all symbols of rebirth and the lamb was a traditional religious sacrifice, she argued.
Filippone further stated that Easter falls in the spring, the yearly time of renewal, when the earth renews itself after a long, cold winter. Moreover, she offers that the word Easter comes to us from the Norsemen's Eostur, Eastar, Ostara, and Ostar, and the pagan goddess Eostre, all of which involve the season of the growing sun and new birth. The Easter Bunny arose originally as a symbol of fertility, due to the rapid reproduction habits of the hare and rabbit.
The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hindus, she went on to say, all believed the world began with an enormous egg, thus the egg as a symbol of new life has been around for eons. The particulars may vary, but most cultures around the world use the egg as a symbol of new life and rebirth. In addition, a notation in the household accounts of Edward I of England showed an expenditure of eighteen pence for 450 eggs to be gold-leafed and colored for Easter gifts. The first book to mention Easter eggs by name was written over five hundred years ago. Yet, a North African population group that had become Christian much earlier in time had a custom of colouring eggs at Easter. Long hard winters often meant little food, and a fresh egg for Easter was quite a prize and a look forward to happen. Christians abstained from eating meat during the Lenten season prior to Easter. Easter was therefore the first chance to enjoy eggs and meat after the long abstinence.
Some European children go from house to house begging for Easter eggs. Egg feast and search for eggs played by children is annually organized. Called pace-egging, it comes from the old word for Easter, Pasch. The Time of Paschal, otherwise Le Pacque in French and Oge Mbulite n'onwu nke Jesu in Igbo language is so significant to all Christians and the institution of Christian faith as a rite of renewal with symbolic Easter Eggs. Many old cultures also attributed the egg with great healing powers. It is interesting to note that eggs play almost no part in the Easter celebrations of Mexico, South America, and Native American Indian cultures. Egg-rolling contests are a symbolic re-enactment of the rolling away of the stone from Christ's tomb. The decoration of small leaf-barren branches as Easter egg trees has become a popular custom in North America, especiaslly in the United States and Canada since the 1990s. Before each Easter celebration, the USA White House will organize Egg Roll celebration as a tradition of keeping the spirit of the Risen Lord under which America stands, under God. It affords children a moment of new learning and reinforcement of our atonement. We need not overemphasize the role of the Papacy in Rome of the key dimensions of Easter and for keeping the Christian faith as a total obligation. Chocolate Eggs and various kinds of Egg decors and gifts are truly and symbolically highlighted.
The decoration of Easter eggs to further enhance their value became art form centuries ago and continues today. Dyes made from vegetables, edible flowers, fruits, coffee, tea, leaves, bark, and roots were used to tint the eggs. Lovely designs were created by wrapping the eggs in ferns before tinting. The art progressed, with western Europeans becoming expert at creating intricate patterns in vibrant colours on the small eggs. Some explanations of some of the many types of decorated eggs as reported by Filippone (cfr. www.about.com) in 2011 include:
- Etched: Traced back to Macedonia, this process involves dying the egg, applying a layer of wax in a design, then bleaching off the color leaving only the wax-covered areas with colour.
- Krashanky: The Ukrainian word means colour, and these eggs are dyed a solid, brilliant colour, often red to symbolize the blood shed by Christ on the cross.
- Pysanky: The term comes from the word pysaty, meaning to write, and this describes how the egg is decorated. Intricate designs are drawn in wax on the eggs, a process closely related to batik. The eggs are then dyed many colors. Ukrainian artisans are famous for their pysanky.
- Fabergé: Probably some of the most famous and most expensive Easter eggs known are those created by Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé in the 1800's. The eggs were made of gold, silver and jewels and most opened up to reveal exquisite tiny figures of people, animals, plants or buildings. A total of 57 eggs were made. These are obviously museum artifacts of high value.
- Binsegraas: The Pennsylvania Dutch traditionally wrapped the pith of the binsegraas, a type of rush, in coils which were glued to eggs. Then interestingly-shaped scraps of calico cloth were pasted on the egg. The Polish use colorful rug yarn formed into elaborately-designed coils, although they, too, originally used rushes.
- Jeweled: Designs are created by gluing any manner of sequins, beads, flowers, etc., onto blown eggs.
- Cut-Out or Carved: Blown eggs are used also for these creations where a portion of the shell is cut away. The exterior is decorated, and the inside filled with a little scene to be viewed through the cut-out section. These can be exquisitely elaborate.
- Calico or Madras: Eggs were wrapped in calico or madras cloth and then boiled. The water released the dyes from the cloth and transferred to the egg. Since most modern cloth is colorfast, these are rarely made nowadays. This type of egg is not to be eaten, due to the danger of the dyes.
Obviously the Europeans, Americans and Canadians have Easter eggs at Easter to very simply, allow Christians have eggs at Easter because ancient people used to celebrate the coming of spring with eggs (which were a sign of new life and rebirth). When Christianity spread and overwhelmed preliterate cultures, the old customs got absorbed into the new religion. This process, as Filippone shows, is called "religious syncretism." Among other relevant insights, Easter Eggs are used because they represent new life; and because also the economic cost is less –you get as many as your family can afford. The egg was a symbol of spring, fertility, and rebirth over 2,000 years ago, long before it began a world-wide association with the Christian celebration of Easter.
Even though there is no widely practiced pattern,it is accounted that rabbits and eggs are preliterate community fertility symbols of extreme antiquity. Birds lay eggs and rabbits give birth to large litters in the early spring and for that reason of opportunity of plenty, the use of eggs became symbols of the rising fertility of the time. Importantly also, it is observed that use of eggs was significant because people are too cheap to buy chocolate bunnies. Unavoidably also, it became necessary because Easter commemorates the resurrection of Christ, and eggs are symbolic of the new and renewed life. Nests full of eggs and new-born bunnies made the creative and symbolic essence of eggs to become of paramount importance. And don't forget to crack Eggs! Although eggs are fragile as life is but not doing anything to renew life in the risen Lord and celebrate life in God is a serious omission.
Happy Easter to All.