Once I started writing about holidays, I was hooked. It all started with an article I wrote for Hometown Magazine some years back. For the springissue, I wrote “St. Patrick’s Day and Easter: Holidays or Holy Days?” Since both were considered holy days in the Christian church, I wanted to show they had both become very secular in modern times. Are they just days off from work (holidays) or true holy days?
First, I’ll share the Easter excerpt from my article. Next, I’ve embedded my favorite rendition of one of my favorite Easter spirituals. It has a joyful chorus, and the verses tell the story of the disciples’ experience on Easter morning. Take a listen to “The Angel Rolled the Stone Away.”
Easter: Holiday or Holy Day?
And what about Easter? This is the holiest day in the Christian calendar, commemorating the resurrection of Christ and the promise of new life. On Easter Sunday, many churches record their highest attendance of the year. Easter bonnets, spring colors, family get-togethers, and egg hunts, are the order of the day. So how did bunnies and eggs become associated with the resurrection? Both symbolize new life in various world cultures, and Christians adopted those existing symbols, much like St. Patrick adopted Celtic symbols, to represent Christian beliefs.
The early church celebrated the Christ’s resurrection in spring to coincide with the Jewish Passover, because that was the season of year in which the crucifixion took place. The pagan spring festival, celebrating new life and fertility, occurred at about the same time. Several sources attribute the name “Easter” to an Anglo-Saxon goddess Eoster, the goddess of spring and fertility. It was common practice to adapt pagan festivals for Christian purposes. In fact, Christmas was a originally pagan winter celebration.
Is modern society using Christian holy days as secular holidays, the original purpose being totally lost? Does it feel like things are coming full circle from pagan to Christian to secular? If you think about, some people would never know about St. Patrick or the resurrection of Christ if the commercialized secular holidays didn’t exist. Perhaps this is an opportunity to swing the pendulum away from the secular.
What about this year? Will these holidays just give us reasons to party and buy trinkets, or will they be treated as holy days?
Easter Spiritual: The Angel Rolled the Stone Away