The resurrection of Jesus the Christ is the most significant event in history and the most important celebration for Christians. It may be the oldest celebration in the history of Christianity as there is some indication the first century Church celebrated the resurrection during Passover.
“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 ESV
More than a few commentators believe Paul is alluding here to a Christian celebration of the Passover. It is easy to suppose that the early Church observed the Passover festival in commemoration of its fulfillment in Jesus. In the early Church, the annual celebration would have been called the pascha, the Greek word for Passover. There is one place in the King James where this word is incorrectly translated as Easter (Acts 12:4). The origin of the name “Easter” is debated. The most likely origin is the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre, the goddess of light and spring. Sacrifices were made to her at the time of the vernal equinox, at about the time of the Passover. Her symbol was a rabbit or a hare. As the story goes, the goddess turned a bird into a hare who, at the onset of spring, returned to its former glory and laid eggs as a bird. The hare, grateful to the goddess for these brief moments as a bird, carries its eggs to children all over the world.
It is thought that second century Christians, wanting to evangelize and convert northern European people groups, adapted their pagan spring traditions to the celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection, as if men are won to Christ through compromise. We shake our heads and cluck our tongues at this because we know only the power of God can save a man. Yet knowing this, we continue to try to draw people to Jesus by assimilation. In so doing, we proclaim that one can follow Jesus while still pledging allegiance to all that is worldly. Is it any wonder, then, that the world cannot see the difference between us and them? Let us stop compromising. Let us boldly proclaim that we are not of this world, that we are different, that our hope is not in the trappings of this world. Make this year’s celebration uniquely Christian. Jettison traditions like Easter baskets, chocolate bunnies, and Easter egg hunts. These traditions trample the resurrection underfoot, as if it was of no import at all. Rather, replace them with fasting and prayer, scripture readings, family worship, and observing communion. Let’s show the world that we worship the King of kings, the Creator of all things, Lord of lords, the Savior of all who will come, who was raised from the dead in power to show the world that it is finished, death is conquered, Satan is vanquished, and we are free.