Which version of Easter do you prefer?
For a majority of people in the UK, Easter is mainly about a long weekend, chocolate eggs, and spring. The origins of the spring holiday are disputed but they go back to pre-Christian times, when Pagans celebrated the spring equinox, which was on March 20th this year, and the end of winter.
The word Easter is derived from the name of a Germanic Pagan goddess of Spring, variously known as Ēostre, Ēastre or Ostara. The Easter bunny, accordng to some, was actually a hare, but either way it was a symbol of fertility, and likewise the egg. Chocolate manufacturers, including Cadbury’s, saw the opportunity to increase their profits by creating chocolate eggs as a substitite for the painted eggs that were previously given as gifts.
No one knows if or when the Christian’s Jesus was crucified (a common form of execution by the Romans between 6BCE and 4AD), but it probably wasn’t at Easter. Just as the early church adopted the pagan midwinter solstice festival and renamed it Christmas, they almost certainly did the same with the spring festival.
If you’re a parent, which would you rather your children associated with Easter? Chocolate eggs or a man nailed to a cross? This is a picture (right) in a children’s Christian colouring book. Could give them nightmares.
Predictably, Christian clergy have used their Easter sermons to continue the “militant secularism” theme they’ve been developing over the last few months, which is a lot of nonsense.
Andrew Copson of the BHA on BBC News 24 responds to O’Brien’s claim that Christians aren’t allowed to wear crosses.