Happy Easter everyone!
A writer I follow commented that the was in southeast Asia and was having a hard time explaining to friends over there what Easter was and why eggs and bunnies were involved and what was this Easter thing again?
He asked if anyone could come up with an explanation of Easter in 500 words or less. I think his question was more rhetorical than actual, but I gave it a try anyway. Here is what I came up with. My computer says the word count is under 500 words, and when I sent my attempt to that author, he wrote back and said I’d actually done a pretty good job. 🙂
Easter is a holiday that celebrates a few different things.
About 2000 years ago, a man named Jeshua was born. He said he was the son of his people’s God. During his life, he said many wise things and performed many miracles. He had many followers and some things he said made important people angry.
When he was in his 30s, the important people he had angered accused him of a crime and got him convicted. The punishment was to be beaten, then nailed to a tall wooden cross and left to die in the sun. Followers of Jeshua believed he had the power to hurt those who had hurt him, but he chose not to because in dying the way he did, his death was a way of showing everyone in the world he and his father, God, forgave the people in the world for the evils that they do, or their sins. In doing that, Jeshua made it possible for other people’s souls to live after death and be with God and his son Jeshua.
The Friday before Easter is the day Jeshua died. His family and friends put his body in a cave and put a large stone over the entrance. On Easter Sunday, Jeshua came back to life, rolled back the stone in front of his cave, and went out into the world. He spoke a bit more to his followers, then left this world to go to be with his father, God.
The most widespread language at that time was Greek. Many of the early stories of Jeshua and letters from his followers were written in Greek. In Ancient Greek, sometimes an –os is added to the end of someone’s name. “Jesus”, it is a way to write “Jeshuaos” or “Jeshuos” or “Jeshos”. In Ancient Greek, “christ” meant “the anointed one”, or a holy person. Jeshua became “Jesus Christ”.
Followers of Jeshua eventually were called “Christians”, and their religion was “Christianity”. Many Christians wear a cross to remind themselves of Jeshua’s sacrifice and forgiveness.
As Christianity spread, it spread into regions with other religions and other religious holidays. Many people in the world celebrate the return of spring after the dark and coldness of winter. Many of these celebrations are about fertility, the plants growing again, and animals and hopefully even people becoming more active and having children.
Rabbits are often used to symbolize fertility because they have so many babies and there are always rabbits around. Eggs also mean fertility because an egg is what baby chickens come from.
It is easier to keep track of the moon’s monthly cycles than the sun’s yearly cycles, so many early holidays were based on moon phases. As Easter, the Christian holiday celebrating Jeshua’s return to life, was combined with older fertility festivals, it also became dependent on moon cycles, which is why it is in a different place in the sun’s calendar each year.