Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Bunny - Easter Eggs and The Church

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Today’s Blog Post
Easter Bunny - Easter Eggs and The Church

The Senior Lady leaned forward and asked me, “Do you know the origin of the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs?”

Well that short question led me to a huge answer. Go Figure.

The word to best describe what I found would be “conjunction”… where one idea is joined to another and another and so on…

First I have to say that Easter for me is part of a Spiritual journey that I joined years ago. It is about the church remembering the crucifixion of Jesus and then celebrating the rising from the dead of Jesus. It is about me becoming part of the story and letting something happen inside.

Easter for me speaks of the death and the end of things… then the new life that springs up from or around death.

In my religious part it speaks of salvation and hope that springs from the death caused by sin. Once I knew huge amounts of sin… today because of what happened on a Cross about 2000 years ago and then what happened from a tomb, when Jesus came back to life again, I now know that the sins that I committed are forgiven – and or can be!!

Hold on now… I am close to preaching again. I am a preacher and have done the Easter Sunday service so many times it is hard to remember. In fact the greatest struggle over the last few years was to find a new way to connect the old story to the present generations. For 35 years I tried to relate the old account to the group of people that were present each Sunday.

Now that is the religious part.. the church part of what I know.

Many people that I have met “poo poo” the idea that a Saviour named Jesus came and did this for me. They think it is a Pipe Dream. It is likely something concocted by men to keep control over other people.

(And on the side of what I write I can say that there are Christians that don’t let others see a very good picture of what Christianity is about. Some are acting as if this religion they have is very manipulative and is all about power with control over others! – Whoa… too much like preaching!)

Now when people give up on the story of Easter with Jesus, a Cross and A Tomb they replace it with other things.

The other things that have come along over these past years has been an Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs.

But when you read of this fantasy story it is all hilarious how we arrived at the reason we have an Easter Bunny that is now so prominent. And why today is filled with Kids getting and looking for candy… and for Easter Eggs that an Easter Bunny has brought.

Here is an explanation that contributors to Wikipedia offered about the Easter Bunny and how it came to represent what it does…
“Rabbits and hares
The hare was a popular motif in medieval church art. In ancient times it was widely believed (as by Pliny, Plutarch, Philostratus and Aelian) that the hare was hermaphrodite. The idea that a hare could reproduce without loss of virginity led to an association with the Virgin Mary, with hares sometimes occurring in illuminated manuscripts and Northern European paintings of the Virgin and Christ Child. It may also have been associated with the Holy Trinity, as in the three hares motif, representing the "One in Three and Three in One" of which the triangle or three interlocking shapes such as rings are common symbols. In England, this motif usually appears in a prominent place in the church, such as the central rib of the chancel roof, or on a central rib of the nave. This suggests that the symbol held significance to the church, and casts doubt on the theory that they may have been masons' or carpenters' signature marks.

Eggs, like rabbits and hares, are fertility symbols of antiquity. Since birds lay eggs and rabbits and hares give birth to large litters in the early spring, these became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth at the Vernal Equinox.

Rabbits and hares are both prolific breeders. Female hares can conceive a second litter of offspring while still pregnant with the first. This phenomenon is known as superfetation. Lagomorphs mature sexually at an early age and can give birth to several litters a year (hence the saying, "to breed like bunnies"). It is therefore not surprising that rabbits and hares should become fertility symbols, or that their springtime mating antics should enter into Easter folklore.” End quote.

So did you get all that?

The Easter Bunny was not originating in Hollywood or Disney Land – it came from weird ideas about hares and rabbits by people in the church… going back to medieval times.

Now to deal with the Easter Egg – again nothing to do with Hollywood or Mr. Disney…

Wikipedia information suggests it is the work of the church again… quote..
"The precise origin of the ancient custom of decorating eggs is not known, although evidently the blooming of many flowers in spring coincides with the use of the fertility symbol of eggs—and eggs boiled with some flowers change their color, bringing the spring into the homes. Many Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church to this day typically dye their Easter eggs red, the color of blood, in recognition of the blood of the sacrificed Christ(and, of the renewal of life in springtime). Some also use the color green, in honor of the new foliage emerging after the long dead time of winter.

erman Protestants wanted to retain the Catholic custom of eating colored eggs for Easter, but did not want to introduce their children to the Catholic rite of fasting. Eggs were forbidden to Catholics during the fast of Lent, which was the reason for the abundance of eggs at Easter time.

The idea of an egg-laying bunny came to the U.S. in the 18th century. German immigrants in the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about the "Osterhase" (sometimes spelled "Oschter Haws") "Hase" means "hare", not rabbit, and in Northwest European folklore the "Easter Bunny" indeed is a hare, not a rabbit. According to the legend, only good children received gifts of colored eggs in the nests that they made in their caps and bonnets before Easter. In 1835, Jakob Grimm wrote of long-standing similar myths in Germany itself. Grimm suggested that these derived from legends of the reconstructed continental Germanic goddess *Ostara.” End quote.

So there you have it… a Easter Bunny is not a Rabbit but rather a Hare. The egg part had a lot to do with Catholics and Protestants fighting with each other and the idea that was one was right and the other wasn’t… about what they ate and didn’t eat.

And it was likely the Pennsylvania Dutch who made it into a “Osterhase” or Easter Hare… and the bunny had to lay the eggs into their caps and bonnets at that special time.

See I told you that the one short question from the Senior Lady had a very long answer to it.

And the strangest thing is that today, this Easter Sunday will have hundreds of thousands of Easter Eggs hidden with many more kids looking for them… BUT very few people will know what the church’s Easter story is all about.

Why? Because most will be gathering the eggs somewhere outside the church.

BTW - Have a Happy Easter!

~ Murray Lincoln ~ 


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