Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter and its Customs

Easter’s ascendancy as a festival thus was not Bible based. In fact, scholars claim that the very word Easter is of Anglo-Saxon origin, referring to the springtime. During that season, the ancients thought the sun was reborn after months of winter death. Other terms for the festival, such as pâques or pasqua, are derived from the ancient Hebrew word pe´sach, or "passover." Christendom argues that Easter replaces this Jewish festival. But this ignores the fact that Jesus replaced the Passover, not with Easter, but with his memorial supper.

Historian Socrates therefore concluded: "It seems to me that the feast of Easter has been introduced into the church from some old usage, just as many other customs have been established." The plethora of Easter traditions indeed comes from "some old usage"—the usage of idolatrous nations! Catholic priest Francis X. Weiser admitted: "Some of the popular traditions of Lent and Easter date back to ancient nature rites." These rites of spring were originally designed to "frighten the demons of winter away."

But did not the church stamp out such paganism in her converts? Curiosities of Popular Customs explains: "It was the invariable policy of the early Church to give a Christian significance to such of the extant pagan ceremonies as could not be rooted out. In the case of Easter the conversion was peculiarly easy. Joy at the rising of the natural sun, and the awakening of nature from the death of winter, became joy at the rising of the Sun of righteousness, at the resurrection of Christ from the grave."

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