Easter – the various symbols and myhs of Holy Week

Jonny By Jonny, 15th Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3tec2t-8/
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Easter - what do eggs and bunnies have to do with Holy Week, and why are they used to mark this holiday?

Easter - a column

WE are currently in what is described by most Christian churches as “Holy Week” yet few have taken time to look at the myths and general weirdness that has become synonymous with the Easter celebrations.

Easter eggs, Easter Bunnies, chocolate, an annual holiday, Easter cards - they have all become associated with the 'celebration' of crucifixion and what followed.

Easter eggs have grown as a trade each year and appear on the shelves of corner shops and supermarkets from February and sell throughout the lead-up to Easter, despite the pledge many make to abstain during Lent.

The origins of the Easter Egg has become a tortuous welding of stories, and an inconsistency in how the egg has become a symbol.

Certainly the evidence is there that eggs were used to celebrate the spring equinox – which for many cultures was marked as the new year.

Decorated ostrich eggs have been recovered from graves in Africa that long pre-date the events recounted in the bible. Sumerian and Egyptian cultures are notable examples. Also, other faiths such as Zoroastrians used the egg to celebrate their new year celebration Nowruz for which historical evidence shows – such as on the walls of the ancient city Persepolis.

What seems common is the symbol of new life: the hatching of a chick a representation of many things now.

How it became mixed up in Christian tradition is a long and winding story. Some claim that the 'hollow egg' represents the empty tomb of Christ, while other evidence points to early painting of eggs in red to represent the 'blood' spilled on the cross.

The date of Easter itself was not 'set' by an actual recorded date of the crucifixion itself. In pre-Christian cultures the spring Equinox in March was a time for celebration right through until the following full moon.

However, it was not until 325 AD that this period became associated with the death of Christ when early churchmen gathered in the First Council of Nicaea – basically it was decided by a committee of 318 bishops.

The association of a 'Bunny' is perhaps one of the weirdest stories. Roman philosophers such as Pliny and Plutarch believed the hare was hermaphrodite and could bare its offspring without losing its supposed virginity. Thus the story of the virgin birth of Christ became associated with a 'bunny'.

There are also stories that Jesus befriended a hare that waited for three days until his 'resurrection'. Thereafter there are significant decorations on church buildings and illustrated manuscripts of three hares as a symbol of 'Holy Trinity'.

And now we have chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs.

Of course, when Easter Sunday rolls around there will still be more chocolate consumed, but as you browse the aisles of the supermarket and look at the shelves in most shops you will still see the mass of Easter eggs being discounted as Easter comes closer. An entire industry depends on the profits and sale of all its Easter stock to sustain it through to Christmas; and in that mix the packaging eats up tremendous resources let alone the waste it generates.

But, when Easter has been and gone Christians – and to some extent other religion groups such as Muslims – will reflect on what it means to them.

Perhaps the biggest question remains over the events recounted in the 'gospels'. Are they historical fact? Or are they a combination of myths and legends from the middle east? No matter whether they are fact or fiction they remain a key theological event, one which the global confectionery industry welcomes with open arms.

Now where did I leave that chocolate egg?


Christian Myths, Easter, Easter Bunnies, Easter Eggs, Easter Sunday, Holy Week

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author avatar Jonny
Leading commentator on Northern Ireland hard rock and heavy metal, professional journalist and full-time PR professional with award-winning in-house team. Author of several short stories

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
16th Apr 2014 (#)

another way of adding to the obeseness here in the USA and unfortunately influencing other countries around the world...shame shame...

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
16th Apr 2014 (#)

and a lot of myths herein...but if they make people feel happy so be it....the redeeming factor is that the Christ consciousness of loving is in all of us....

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author avatar Jonny
16th Apr 2014 (#)

Having read the Bible, Talmud and Koran, and as a historian I find the whole concept of 'faith' in works based on, at best, secondary sources. However, I do acknowledge many find comfort in their faith; but I believe that basic human nature and centuries of jurisprudence means that we do not the Abrahamic religions

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author avatar WOGIAM
16th Apr 2014 (#)

I hope you have a pleasant Easter period.

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author avatar Jonny
19th Apr 2014 (#)

Thank you - I shall use the time to relax and recharge my writing batteries as seems appropriate as spring blossoms

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