The Christian meaning of Easter  today

The Christian meaning of Easter today

by Jeremy Balfour
article from Friday 30, March, 2018

ANOTHER Easter Weekend has come and will soon be gone – and too many Easter Eggs eaten. Why in 21st Century Scotland do we still celebrate Easter? For Christians the meaning of Easter is Jesus Christ's victory over death. His resurrection symbolises the eternal life that is granted to all who believe in Him. The meaning of Easter also symbolises the complete verification of all that Jesus preached and taught during His three-year ministry. If He had not risen from the dead, if He had merely died and not been resurrected, He would have been considered just another teacher or Rabbi. However, His resurrection changed all that and gave final and irrefutable proof that He was really the Son of God and that He had conquered death once and for all. 

Easter did not, however, always symbolise Christ's resurrection from the dead and the meaning of Easter was previously quite different than what Christians celebrate today. The feast day of Easter was originally a pagan celebration of renewal and rebirth. Celebrated in the early spring, it honored the pagan Saxon goddess Eastre. When the early missionaries converted the Saxons to Christianity, the holiday, since it fell around the same time as the traditional memorial of Christ's resurrection from the dead, was merged with the pagan celebration, and became know as Easter. The meaning of Easter was also changed to reflect its new Christian re-orientation. 

Many of the things we all do at Easter refer back to the Christian traditions of Easter. The Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs are symbols from the story. In 1290, Edward I of England recorded a purchase of 450 eggs to be colored or covered with gold leaf. He then gave the eggs to members of the royal household. Once the custom became accepted, new traditions began to grow up around it. Eggs were dyed red for joy, and in memory of Christ’s blood. Egg rolling contests came to America from England, possibly as a reminder of the stone being rolled away. 

So while Easter is accessible to all, for like all Christian festivals it welcomes people to join in celebration, hope and remembrance, it is of special significance for Christians, it is very relevant to today and the eggs, bunny's and other symbols do have a meaning, no matter how much they have been commercialised or dissociated from the original customs.

Jeremy Balfour is a Scottish Conservative & Unionist MSP for the Lothians

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