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The Meaning, Story, and Symbolism of Easter

meaning story symbolism of easter

It is Easter time of the year when many celebrations from different traditions are taking place. Whatever the path is, I see them all coming from the same source and varying according to different attributes and necessities of the people. 

You already know that I enjoy rituals, sacred spaces, and ancient stories and symbols. This quote below, explains also my point of view for all these celebrations happening around the world. 

Christmas isn’t about the decorations,

 It’s about compassion.

 Hanukkah isn’t about the sufganiyot,

 It’s about amalgamation.

 Ramadan isn’t about the feast,

 It’s about affection.

 Diwali isn’t about the lights,

 It’s about ascension.

 Our world is filled with festivals,

 But what do they really mean?

 Celebrating them with cultural exclusivity,

 Makes us not human but savage fiend.

 Every festival belongs to all of humanity,

 For happiness has no religious identity.”

Abhijit Naskar, I Vicdansaadet Speaking: No Rest Till The World is Lifted

Our world is filled with festivals, but what do they really mean? asks Abhijit Naskar. In the light of this question, let’s explore the meaning of Easter, its story, and its origins. 

The meaning of Easter

Easter is a very important event in Christianity. It is celebrated every year as the day of resurrection of Jesus three days after his crucifixion and burial. This event occurred some 2000 years ago. The word derived from an ancient celebration of Goddess Eostre or Eastre at the beginning of the spring season.

How Easter is calculated?

Easter day is the ‘first Sunday’ after the ‘full moon occurring on or after the Spring Equinox’. That is why the date of Easter is always changing every year. 

The story of Easter

The story of Easter starts after the Last Supper which was the final meal Jesus had taken with his apostles. In that meal, Jesus had predicted his death. After that, the guards of the temple arrested Jesus. The reason behind this was that the elders of the temple were offended by the preaching of Jesus. They charged him with the claim of him being the king of the Jews. After the arrest, he was taken to the Roman governor, where he was tried and sentenced to be crucified. On Friday, Jesus was crucified on the cross.

What happened on Easter Sunday?

Stories of the Gospel tell that the Crucifixion of Jesus took place on the Friday before Easter, called Good Friday. He got buried inside a tomb that was protected as there was the risk of the body being stolen. After three days, on Sunday, a woman went there and found the tomb empty. It was believed that God took Jesus to heaven, termed as resurrection from death. 

Listening to this story, you could ask a question; has this really happened? My answer is we will never really know. We can even not be 100% sure that Jesus existed. You can watch this interesting video about this question: Did Jesus Exist?

The history of Easter

The old Anglo Saxon pagans celebrated the Eastre goddess at the arrival of the spring season. The Christians administered them and tried to convert those pagans to Christianity. The celebrations of the resurrection of Jesus by Christians took place on the same spring celebration days by the pagans. Thus, the resurrection of Jesus celebration got combined with that spring-time celebration. It was called Easter so that after conversion, the pagans can enjoy their tradition as well.

The history of Easter also connects with the Passover, a Jewish festival. According to Wikipedia, “Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar.”

The origin of Easter

There are different origins for the word Easter according to history:

* As per an eighth-century monk “Venerable Bede”, the word “Easter” has taken from the name of a Germanic goddess named “Eostre/Eastre”. She was the goddess of spring and fertility. Anglo Saxon pagans used to celebrate this goddess at the start of the spring season. 

Hence, the resurrection of Jesus indicates the start of a new season of prosperity and goodness. 

* In the ancient Norwegian language, the words ‘ostara’, ‘eostur’, or ‘eastur’, have the meaning of “the season of new birth”. Another meaning is “season of growing sun.”

For that reason, the word Easter fuses with the essence of the resurrection or rebirth of Jesus. 

* Also, if we look at the word “East”, it comes from the old English and old German (the word: ostar), having the meaning of “towards the sun”. In Greek and Hebrew languages, it has the meaning of “to rise, to shine.” Hence, the name Easter gives us a sense of the rise of Jesus again after the death.

* Eostre (in old English) or Ostara (in old German) is also “the goddess of dawn.” 

Therefore, Easter here can represent the “dawn of goodness and divinity” as being celebrated as the resurrection of Jesus. It symbolizes the faith in the rise of good powers over bad powers.

This simply leads to the fact that the resurrection of Jesus links with the joyous and fruitful spring. The resurrection of Jesus is the assurance of the arrival of good and the departure of evil.

Why do we celebrate Easter?

Easter is the day when good defeated evil. It portrays the true revival of hope and showcases the downfall of wickedness. Therefore, Christians celebrate this day with true devotion and respect. It marks the fulfillment of prophecies of the Bible about a messiah who would rise after death. This day reminds the struggles of Jesus, and the cruelties he faced. But in the end, he resurrected and defeated all his enemies. This is the sheer indication of good overpowering the bad.

How is Easter celebrated?

Easter is celebrated with full enthusiasm. Sunrise services, Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, flowers especially lilies, daffodils, and other white flowers are common practices.

Sunrise services are done in churches to celebrate the rise of Jesus. Easter bunnies are candies, mainly in chocolate flavor, that are very much liked by the children. The candy baskets are secretly kept for the children that they find out in the morning. Decorated Easter eggs are a part of the celebration. The Easter egg hunts are also organized for the children at their homes. Some organizations also arrange these hunts for the children. Also, lilies are used for decoration as a symbol of purity. 

The symbolism of Easter

You can read the symbolism of the Holy Week here as well. For now, let’s read about the symbolism of Easter.

  • Easter Bunny: The link of the rabbit came since the rabbit was the symbol of Eastre, goddess of spring and fertility. Hence, Easter gives us the vibes of rebirth and resurrection. Also, the hare has increased fertility. This also shows the message of vitality and new births. Hare is also an ancient symbol for the moon. This gets linked with the fact that Easter is determined by the occurrence of the full moon.
  • Easter Eggs: Eggs are a symbol of a new arrival. This symbolizes the new life.
  • Lilies: White lilies symbolize the pure soul of Jesus.
  • Spring flowers: Daffodils and other flowers indicate the season of spring.
  • The Butterfly: the different phases of a butterfly’s life resemble the life of Jesus. The caterpillar stage indicates the life of Jesus in this world. The phase of the cocoon indicates the crucifixion and burial of Jesus inside the tomb. The final stage of a flying butterfly shows the resurrection of Jesus.
  • Hot Cross Buns: The buns have a cross on them to remind the cross of Jesus.

Conclusion

Overall, Easter symbolizes the rise of good over bad, justice over cruelty, hope over despair, and life over death. It also gives us the message of spiritual resurrection that we can have from the depths of sins, despair, and hopelessness.

The resurrection of Jesus gives the message of optimism and the victory of goodness always. It instills faith in the people who are disappointed by the existence of evil, injustice, and cruelty. Reassures people of forgiveness and a new life who are disappointed due to their sins.

This is the time of the year-Spring-to celebrate the birth and the hope and the optimism. Maybe you are passing through the darkest times of your life, but do not forget, everything is passing, and we are just passengers here. 

Happy Easter everybody!

Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Ancient Wisdom Board!

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