Myths Around The World Surrounding Easter
The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Interestingly, although Easter is associated with Christianity, many Easter traditions date back to pre-Christian, pagan times.
With the popularity of Easter around the world all over and even celebrated as a national public holiday in countries where Christianity is a state religion, the celebration has gathered some myths over the years.
In this article, we take a look at different myths surrounding Easter from different parts of the world.
The Name “Easter”
It is widely speculated that the name “Easter” was coined from Ishtar; the Babylonian goddess of love and fertility, or Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. This belief stems from the fact that some Easter traditions connect the name with Ishtar. Ishtar was worshipped by the Babylonians, Assyrians, Akkadians as the ‘Queen of Heaven’. Easter was modelled after pagan celebrations of spring and fertility.
The Easter Bunny
Just as Christmas is associated with Santa Claus (Father Christmas), the Easter Bunny is associated with Easter. the Easter Bunny is of German origin just like Santa and the myth surrounding the Easter Bunny is that he shows up as a deliverer of eggs, bent on rewarding the good. The Easter Bunny first emerged in 16th-century literature and it is believed that he delivers coloured eggs only to well-behaved good children. The tradition of the bunny was brought to the U.S. by German settlers to Pennsylvania but the bunnies might not have as much to do with Easter as some people believe.
The Easter Egg is a symbol of resurrection and continuation of life with the egg considered a natural wonder and proof of the renewal of life. In relation to Easter, the egg is considered the ultimate symbol of fertility and the farther Christianity spread, the egg was adopted as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection from the tomb.
The Easter Island
Relatively unknown to many, but there is actually a myth about an island. Hau-Maka, a wise man, a prophet and counsellor of the Akiri (king) had a vision during a dream, where the God of creation, Make-Make appeared to show him the way to Easter Island. This is how the Rapa Nui culture, guided by the stars and Hau-Maka, managed to arrive at their new home and survived the disappearance of their original settling when the world was destroyed with flooding.
There is the myth turned tradition that ham should be eaten on Easter day. This tradition of eating ham most likely came from the slaughter of an animal before fall and then preservation in salt over the winter, sometimes buried near the sea. A study showed that 67% of Americans serve ham at their Easter dinners, and this typically breaks any meat fast that is undertaken during Lent.
Christmas is more important than Easter
It is undebatable that in terms of popularity, level of preparation and general ambience towards Christmas and Easter, Christmas is easily more popular than Easter. While there are several films about Christmas, there is only a handful film about Easter. This might lead you to think that Christmas is far and away the most important Christian holiday. However, Christmas’s overwhelming domination of the holiday market doesn’t make it more important than Easter because Easter is actually far more important in terms of its spiritual meaning. It is understandable that the birth of Christ is obviously important, however, it is his eventual resurrection on Easter Sunday that provides the basis of the Christian faith.
Eating of flesh and blood
In Nigeria, there is the myth surrounding Easter that anything that has blood should be avoided. Meat, fish and their animal products are considered a taboo on this sacred day because it is believed that should anything that has blood or flesh be eaten, Christ is being condemned to death all over again.