If you are an avid reader of this column, you know that one of our favorite topics is those early Christians. And what better time than Easter to celebrate their silliness! Although torture, suffering, and death is pretty fun stuff, they sure knew these themes would be a tough sell for ‘pagans’ (Assyrians and Babylonians) around the empire to get on board with. By appropriating their holidays (see christmas, valentine’s, etc…) and insisting these ritual celebrations had actually been Christian all along, the early power-mongers thought they had found another way to win over hearts and minds.
But more than any other modern holiday, their version of Easter just never really trended. Not like say, Christmas did. Despite the fact that everyone loves getting presents, we recognize that the holiday is about something greater. But can the same be said for Easter? Even today, while kids hunt for painted-up symbols of fertility (eggs) or the modern equivalent: sweetened-up symbols of infertility, it is not really shocking that the focus is on all on the novelty. It sure is a lot easier to dangle a generous and playful bunny in front of a youngster than to lecture about sacrifice and rebirth.
A pagan festival of the spring equinox, Easter is all about sex. It’s the time when animals have babies and trees and flowers bloom. The holiday was the excitement of spring itself; Fucking in the fields all day, jumping over bonfires at night, dressed up in animal masks with a little blood sacrifice on the side. Not very Christian.
But then they just kept on using their old timey ritual symbols; the fertility eggs and the bunnies (I mean…what breeds more than rabbits?) and even the name, after Estre, who was a goddess of fertility.
While pagan gods returned from the dead each spring, Jesus echoed these traditions and was resurrected too. This hero archetype is seen all around the ancient world. There was Persephone in Greece, Attis in Rome, Odin for the Vikings, and the Celts had at least three gods who were all resurrected in the spring.
Though early Christians tried to hijack Easter and get it inside the church, what they actually did was keep it alive.
Happy Easter readers! And let’s all celebrate the season the old fashioned way – just be careful around those campfires!