“The great gift of Easter is hope–Christian hope which makes us have that confidence in God, in his ultimate triumph, and in his goodness and love, which nothing can shake.” ~ Basil Hume
Today Christians all over the world are celebrating Easter. It’s not every year that this happens, but this year, the Orthodox and Western Christians are all celebrating together, so it’s an all out Easter!
This is the major Christian holiday, even bigger than Christmas. Without Easter, Christmas would be irrelevant.
This is the story of the triumph over Death. As a great believer in an afterlife, this is definitely a holiday I can embrace. The Easter story is the ultimate story of love and sacrifice. How can I not love it?
Of course, Easter has very pagan roots, with the Spring Goddess, Ostara or Eostre loaning her name to the holiday. A current internet rumor is that Easter comes from Ishtar, the Syrian, Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of love, sex, fertility and war. Most likely not at all. Easter is etymologically an Anglo-Saxon word, and the Anglo-Saxon pagans had Eostre, so most likely many Easter traditions are borrowed from Northern European pagan Spring fertility rites. (I wrote about this in more detail at the vernal equinox.)
But since the Christians have been celebrating the day for over 2000 years, I think we can call the holiday theirs.
All this “Christians stole” talk actually leads me to my central belief. There is one all-mighty deity beyond human comprehension. But humans need to comprehend, so we create myths to help us understand. And those myths have strong connections and similarities in many, many cultures. This is why I found Frazer’s The Golden Bough so fascinating when I first learned of it. Looking at religion dispassionately, Frazer attempted to show similarities in world myths and religions. As someone who wants to downplay the differences and revel in the similarities, this was a joy.
Differences are nice, of course, and I wouldn’t want a homogenous world. But humans being humans, we tend to get hung up on the differences, often killing one another because of them. My working theory is if we can see how similar we all are, then we can enjoy the differences. But to focus on the differences brings us to sometimes bad places.
But this idea of ONE deity is why I’m perfectly happy worshiping in different places. I really don’t believe what I imagine to be “god” is actually in the right ball park at all. I’m not even convinced the deity is corporeal.
So a long time to say Happy Easter to you all. Hallelujah, hallelujah!