March 28, 2011

My Favorite Thing About Easter

I was asked to post about my favorite thing about Easter. Sure, I like coloring eggs, egg hunts, and all the candy, but my favorite thing about Easter is the Christian meaning behind the day. It is vital to the Christian religion to understand about Jesus voluntarily giving His life for us and returning from the dead.

I wanted to post about the history of the pagan holiday becoming a Christian holiday. In the pagan celebration "Ishtar" was a day that commemorated the resurrection of one of their gods that they called "Tammuz". I won't go too deeply into that now, but it had to do with Nimrod, who was the grandson of Noah's son named Ham. (Remember the Tower of Babel?) Also it was a celebration of fertility - hence the eggs.

We know that Jesus went Jerusalem to celebrate passover, and He rode a donkey on what is called "Palm Sunday". He was crucified on "Good Friday" and rose from the dead on Easter. The tomb was empty! Because of His voluntary sacrifice, we can have forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

I was studying about how the official date was chosen. It was kind of long, so I will just quote it here: (On All About God) "The history of Christian Easter is told about in the book, A History of The Christian Church. The first definite record of the celebration of Christian Easter is in connection with the visit of Polycarp (the bishop of Smyrna) to Anicetus (the bishop of Rome) in 154 or 155 in order to come to an agreement about the time of the observance of Easter. Polycarp represented the more ancient custom of observing Easter with a vigil, ending with the Lord’s Supper, through the night of the fourteenth of the month Nisan (month of the Jewish calendar), like the Jewish Passover, regardless of what day of the week this day might fall. Anicetus represented the Roman custom that was also followed by some parts of the East to have the Easter feast always on Sunday. They did not come to an agreement, but continued on each with their own practice. After further disputes over dates within the Asia Minor church, the problem became so serious that meetings were held around 190 that decided in favor of having Easter celebrated on Sunday. At a council in 314, the Roman date of Easter was approved. In the third century in the Christian church, “the great event of the year was the Easter season. The period immediately before was one of fasting in commemoration of Christ’s sufferings. Customs differed in various parts of the empire. In Rome a forty hours’ fast and vigil was held in remembrance of Christ’s rest in the grave. This was extended, by the time of the Council of Nicaea to a forty days’ Lent. All fasting ended with the dawn of Easter morning, and the Pentecostal period of rejoicing then began. In that time there was no fasting or kneeling in prayer in public worship. Easter eve was the favorite season for baptism, that the newly initiate might participate in the Easter joy.”2 At the Council of Nicaea a uniform date for the observance of Easter was ordered."

I know this post might be a little different than your average post, but I wanted to highlight how a pagan holiday was changed to the most important holiday to Christians. It shows how God can use even pagan things to glorify Him. This year as you are coloring eggs with your children, remember to tell them the main reason Christians celebrate Easter.

About The Sponsor Hop: "Blending state of the art animation with live action, Hop is a comedy about E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand), the teenage son of the Easter Bunny. On the eve of taking over the family business, E.B. leaves for Hollywood in pursuit of his dream of becoming a drummer. Once there, he encounters Fred (James Marsden of the X-Men series, Enchanted), recently fired and determined to pull his life together. Feigning injury, E.B. persuades Fred to take him in, and Fred finds himself living with the world’s worst houseguest. Back on Easter Island, the Easter Bunny’s second in command, an oversized chick named Carlos, seizes E.B.’s disappearance as an opportunity to plot a coup. Ultimately, Fred and E.B. are Easter’s only hope and they find themselves returning to Easter Island, locked in an epic battle to save the beloved holiday. The film is helmed by Tim Hill, director of the blockbuster Alvin and the Chipmunks and produced by Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me)."
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I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hop blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.
Image by Luigi Diamanti.

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