Thursday, March 29, 2007

Easter Symbols

A little perspective is needed on some pagan traditions that have entered Christian traditions.  On a day that is set aside to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I have often wondered why there are eggs and bunnies.  I could never really figure out the connection.  The truth is:  there is no connection.  Some say the egg represents the resurrection, but the egg is hard boiled and therefore dead.  And even if the chick were allowed to come out of the shell, it’s a birth, not a rebirth. 


So, what is the real symbolism?  As we’ve seen with other Christian traditions, as Christianity spread people still hung on to some of their pagan symbols.  Even the word “Easter” is pagan.  Easter, or Esther, is another name for Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of fertility.  She’s also the guardian of prostitutes and probably had priestess-prostitutes in her temples.  The egg is the symbol for fertility and the animal symbol for fertility is the rabbit.  Now you know why there is a rabbit delivering eggs.


So, in the spring of the year when everything is coming back to life, Ishtar is worshipped, and her symbols are seen everywhere.  So what do eggs and rabbits have to do with Jesus dying on the cross and rising three days later?  Absolutely nothing.  Also, the Persians (Babylonians) painted eggs for Nowrooz, their New Year celebration falling on the Spring Equinox.


So, should I still hide eggs and let my children find them?  It’s something they look forward to at this time of the year.  They also like to get their picture taken with the Easter Bunny at the mall.  And I can’t leave out getting their baskets on Easter morning.  The Easter bunny always visited me when I was younger and I’m not worshipping Ishtar today.  So, is it okay or not, and I don’t buy the argument that it’s up to each person.  Either it’s right or it’s wrong, perception doesn’t matter.  Or is it the emphasis that matters?  My children know the true reasons for our celebrations.  They know the story of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.  I don’t know, but now that I have a deeper understanding of the symbols, I do feel convicted for it.


What’s your conviction?

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