This Sunday, April 10, is a holiday celebrated by Christians, but also by non-Christians throughout world. The Christian interpretation celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and remains the most important holiday of the Christian year.
When I grew up in the cold, snowy north, we wanted for Easter like a dog salivating for a bone. It was not only a sign of spring, but also a time of celebrating the demise of winter. That was my main understanding. Yes, you heard me right. Yes, I went to church, and it was a denomination which celebrated each designated day on the Christian calendar. However, Easter to me meant getting a new dress, and a new pair of shoes. It meant candy, colored eggs, and ham for dinner.
My most memorable recollection of Easter was finally being allowed to own a pair of “high heels,” the shoes being white. The heels were perhaps about 2 inches high. But I thought I was hot stuff. At 12 or 13 years old, I finally had permission to wear heels. However, the dress “code” mandated that white shoes were not worn until Easter. That was the “break-out” day for wearing white; any white. I owned a white skirt, and could hardly wait to wear it.
These shoes looked like Bambi’s feet. My feet were and still are long. White heels, with pointed toes made me look like I was standing on white planks. Oh yes, and I wore a hat too. A hat on a woman was not optional in church. I never even thought to ask why. I know now. It’s scriptural.
It was not until I was in my 20s that I learned that the sacred day that we celebrate called Easter had Saxon roots. Scholars determined that the name, “Easter “is derived from a pagan figure called “Eastre” or “Eostre” who was celebrated as the goddess of spring by the Saxons of Northern Europe. According to theory, Eastre was the goddess of the “east” and her symbol was the hare (a symbol of fertility). The festival called Eastre was held during the spring equinox by the Saxons to honor her. It is agreed by most historians, including Biblical scholars, that Easter was originally a pagan festival, and Eastre, the goddess of spring was honored at this time.
When I learned who Christ was, and that the most important documented piece of history ever recorded confirmed that he did arise from the dead three days after his death, I understood the whole picture. For when he presented His blood offering and sacrifice as the sacrificial lamb to the Father, it was done. He completed the exchange with us. He took our sins and we acquired His righteousness. He was seen by many and this is a fact. It is not negotiable nor compromiseable.
But, wouldn’t you know it. Old Lucifer finds ways to cause men to water down the true meaning of that day. I sure didn’t know much even though I was in church every Sunday, including Easter. The church focused on the work of Christ. I just didn’t hear. My head was full of jelly beans and chocolate bunnies.
The true name of “Easter” is the Greek word, “Pascha” (derived from the Hebrew word “Pesach”), since there is no original Greek word for Passover. Jesus was sacrificed during Passover ... on purpose. The original Passover took place when the Israelite people were slaves in Egypt, and God chose to “let his people go” free. The Lord God sent a plague to the Egyptians. He instructed each Israelite household to slaughter a perfect lamb, and each Israelite head was to sprinkle the blood of this sacrificial lamb on the doorpost of his home, and the death angel plague would pass over that house. The Egyptians in turn would lose the first born of every family, their animals, and every living thing. The blood on the door posts of the Israelites protected them from the plague.
Jesus is our Passover lamb. He died and rose during the Jewish Passover; His blood was shed for us. So, the true origin of the word Pascha (Passover) has only one meaning. It always means Passover. It can never mean Easter. Today there is a growing consensus among believers in Christ that the day we celebrate is named “Resurrection Sunday.” I am hearing that more and more.
Maybe my head would not have been as full of jelly beans, colored eggs, and white shoes if I had known this, but I doubt it. It was a process, this learning and understanding. So, I hope I have explained sufficiently. I wish you all a meaningful Resurrection Sunday! And enjoy the jelly beans, and chocolate bunnies too.
Judi Tabler lives in Pawnee County and is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com or juditabler@awomansview.