I’ve done this Word of the Week before, but it was six years ago, so I figured a revisit wouldn’t be begrudged by anyone. 😉

When Anglo-Saxon Christians first started celebrating the Mass of
Christ’s Resurrection, they gave it the name Easter, after Eastre, the
goddess of fertility and spring, whose holiday was likely the vernal
equinox. Have you ever looked up Eastre? She was a magician-goddess, and one of her tricks was to turn a chicken into a rabbit…but it still laid eggs. This, friends, is where we get the Easter Bunny bringing eggs for our baskets. Not exactly something that has to do with why we’re celebrating the day as Christians…

Now, all neighboring languages use a word derived from Latin pasche, or passover, for the holiday. (Which makes a whole lot more sense. I really wish English did this too!)

Easter eggs
are attested from 1824 (though let it be noted that eggs are part of the Passover feast too, so there’s legitimate reason to include them in Resurrection celebrations). The Easter Bunny is from 1909. And as a
matter of fact, Easter Island is so named because the discoverer did so
on Easter Monday.

The voice of the empty tomb - Rev. Alan Rudnick
The Empty Tomb – Pinterest

Although Christianity has a long history of “taking over” pagan
holidays and traditions and using them to get new converts to observe
Christianity instead, I have to say I don’t like the English word. I’d
never paused to consider it until my piano teacher back in the day
refused to use the word “Easter” and instead called it “Resurrection
Day.” (Of which I fully approve!) She would even re-title songs for our
recitals when necessary. One year I was playing “Easter Song” on the
organ, and it became “Resurrection Song.”

This is something I try to do in my speech, though I do frequently slip and old habits take over. But I’ve at least trained my kids to correct me. 😉 So around here, we’ll be celebrating Resurrection Day this Sunday–with a sunrise service, a breakfast at church, and then visiting a local nursing home before the family gathers for a scavenger hunt and dinner.

How do you celebrate the resurrection of our Lord?

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