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Happy Easter. Really?

When did people start wishing Happy Easter?

True, there is the joy at Christ Risen, but the crucifixion is hardly something to inspire happiness.

I remember in the early ’80′s a TV ad exhorting “Give a Kodak camera this Easter”. Happily that sentiment never caught on, but “Happy Easter” is another innovation which seems greatly at odds with the holiday.

28 Comments

  1. john b says:

    Eh? Easter was originally the pagan rite to celebrate the end of winter and the start of spring, named after the goddess Eostre. Which is a happy thing.

    Like much of northern European pagan ritual, the Christian church took the festival on as it spread throughout the region. Presumably, someone excellent noticed “hey, rebirth and all of that”, and decided it’d be best associated with the Resurrection. Which is where humanity is absolved from its sins and saved from the fires of hell. Which is also a happy thing.

    (Good Friday would probably be better named “Quite Rubbish Friday But Don’t Worry, Sunday Will Be Awesome”, though).

  2. Mr Ed says:

    Easter Day is the whole point of Christianity, and the ultimate joy for Christians. Good Friday is presumably their darkest day, although there is a plot spoiler as surely they know the story after a first Easter. I would agree that ‘Happy Easter’ is an affectation that is novel and absurd.

    I have never understood the rationale for ‘blaming’ the ‘Red Sea Pedestrians’ for the death of Jesus, as firstly his death was a sine qua non for Christian faith, and secondly it is obvious that responsibility is personal, and no one under around 1996 years of age could possibly be to ‘blame’, the gae figure being ‘ballpark’.

  3. Mr Ed says:

    ‘age’ not ‘gae’. Blasted iPad.

  4. john in cheshire says:

    I have had an email from Christian Concern regarding a bbc1 programme tomorrow at 12noon about Mary Magdalene and the suggestion that Jesus was less than perfect in his relationship with her. If that isn’t an outrageous attack upon Christianity then I don’t know what is. I’ve sent a complaint to the bbc about it; I don’t expect anything other than their usual anodyne expressions of regret that I’m offended etc. However, if they weren’t intending to offend Christians from the outset, why broadcast such a programme at all and certainly why wait until the day that Jesus actually died? The bbc are an abomination and I just hope I live to see the day when it is torn apart. Will they celebrate the death of their most glorious terrorist, Mr Mandela, by examining what he did during his terrorist days, plotting to kill white South Africans? I doubt it. Will they celebrate muslim holy days by giving us the truth about what this strange man actually did in his life? Most certainly not. But Christianity is seen as fair game because the bbc knows that Christians don’t call for the death of those who speak out against them. If the bbc has a plan to generate hatred against them as an organisation, they are doing a very good job.

  5. john in cheshire says:

    Oh, and if you want to see the dirty game that our enemies are playing against us, try to access Gates of Vienna or Harry’s Place websites. You can’t, at the moment, because they have been attacked. By whom? I think we know the answer to that question.

  6. zack says:

    Mr. Ed: Easter Day is the whole point of Christianity, and the ultimate joy for Christians. Good Friday is presumably their darkest day, although there is a plot spoiler as surely they know the story after a first Easter.
    ———————————————–

    Well, I always viewed Good Friday as the key day since it’s Jesus’s death on the Cross that atones for our (well, my sins, and your sins, and jim’s sins, etc; ‘our’ sins as individuals, which I think is a key point. No collective guilt or salvation in orthodox[as in non heretical] Christianity) sins(Hence Good). Easter is good because the resurrection is what *confirms* our salvation, but not what achieves it. Of course, resurrection is easier to celebrate then sacrifice, so that’s why I think it gets more focus.

    I agree with the rest 100% though

    Also, absolutely agree John in Cheshire

  7. Bill Sticker says:

    Or as one man said as the Romans were about to nail his wrists to a baulk of timber; “Good Friday? What’s so bloody good about this?”

  8. Henry Crun says:

    Never thought I ‘d see the day when I agreed with John B, but yes Easter is just one of the pagan/Roman festivals hijacked by the early church. In this case Oestre was a Norse festival of fertility (hence the word oestrogen and the chocolate eggs).

    I also echo John in Cheshire’s sentiments re the World’s Most Favourite Terrorist (R), he had the means to put an end to the viole fe in the South African black townships, but not the will. I’ll never forget the sight the first time our army patrol came Across a necklacing.

  9. Henry Crun says:

    Violence not voile fe. Bloody iphone

  10. CIngram says:

    As a born and bred Catholic I can confirm that Easter is the high point of the Liturgical year. Good Friday is a day of symbolic misery; the altars are stripped of adornment, the vestments are in the colours of mourning, the Blessed Sacrament is removed from the Tabernacle, and the music could have been written by Kurt Cobain. But on Easter Sunday all this is reversed and joy is unconfined (well, I’m English, so not completely unconfined but you get the idea). To say Happy Easter was as natural to me as a child as to say Happy Christmas, but thinking back, it is possible that only church-goers would have said it, rather than the general public.

    I think it’s inaccurate to say that the Church ‘hijacked’ the celebration of Easter. The story takes place at Passover, which is in the spring, and it’s celebration was naturally caught up with other, originally more important, celebrations. The fact that the Church in England has not given it a specifically religious name (the word Easter was, as I recall, regularly used in the Liturgy) suggests that they aren’t too bothered about people welcoming spring and the risen Christ in the same breath.

    @john b

    ‘Good Friday would probably be better named “Quite Rubbish Friday But Don’t Worry, Sunday Will Be Awesome”, though’

    Beautifully put.

    @Henry Crun

    For a moment, more than a moment, in fact, I assumed ‘viole fe’ was some culturally normalized, but barbaric practice specific to the townships of South Africa. I was torn being pretending to understand it, and giving in and Googling it. Your correction has saved me from looking a bigger idiot than usual.

  11. CountingCats says:

    Nothing wrong with a new religion hijacking existing celebrations for their own purposes. If the celebration is legitimate to the new belief system it helps the converted identify. Hell, the office of Pontiff predates Christianity by centuries.

  12. Julie near Chicao says:

    Silly me, I thought it was only we uneducated Protestants who call it “Good Friday.” I was taught that the proper nomenclature in the Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian (at least–quite likely Lutheran as well) denominations is “Black Friday.” This goes clear back to my childhood in the ’50′s. (I confess to having left Christianity in the early 60′s, but up until quite recently I still heard the day called, occasionally, “Black Friday.”)

    When whoever it was had the bright idea of calling Shoppers’-Bane Day, the Friday after Thanksgiving, “Black Friday,” I was appalled…it really sounded (and sounds) almost like blasphemy. The real Black Friday has tremendous importance to believing Christians (and for those inclined to find valid psychological or sociological themes in religious rituals, teachings, and explanations). I found it quite offensive.

    And indeed Easter is a time of joy and “Happy Easter” a wonderful greeting. Easter does celebrate the stirrings of renewed life, April is not “the cruelest month,” no matter what Mr. Eliot thinks, thus is a time of joy (although personally I prefer Fall); it is the time of Passover, yes, in itself a reason for Jews to be happy; and of course the proof that after all Jesus, the Christ, God in the Son of God (who symbolizes all of Mankind, of course) is NOT dead, but lives and returns to meld with his Father; which tells us that each of us mortals may hope to do so at the end of our time here, and furthermore that our belief in Jesus AS the Son of God was not misplaced.

    Christianity is, among other things, an allegory of the human experience (although it is clearly a work in progress).

    Deal with it! ;)

  13. Julie near Chicao says:

    In fact Zack writes,

    “Easter is good because the resurrection is what *confirms* our salvation, but not what achieves it.”

    Which is close to my thought above.

    By the way–we (Christians and former Christians *g*) are not Muslims: We know that Jesus was not Perfect: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

    Endless theological debate over that: Why did Jesus lose his faith for a bit, there on the Cross? Because he was human, that’s why, and thus (insofar as he was human) Imperfect. Else he could not have “atoned for” his fellow Men. It’s that very imperfection that gives meaning to the Resurrection.

    So, if he had had illicit relations with Mary Magdalene, it would have been as a result of his imperfect Humanness. Of course, some people believe that in historical fact he was married to the Magdalene. And some, probably the majority of believing Christians, that there was no illicit relationship and that the suggestion that there was is blasphemous. Which is how Zack and J in Cheshire see it.

    By the way–I should think that if the Death and Resurrection are the promise of our ultimate Redemption (or Salvation), that would automatically rule out eternal condemnation. No Hell, no fire and brimstone for us. –Well actually, that’s what JohnB said.

    Great minds…. :>)

  14. Talwin says:

    I don’t have anything profound or ecclesiastical to say on this issue, but to answer the question “‘When did people start wishing Happy Easter?”, certainly among my extended family (north-west of England working class), it was a common greeting in the 1940s/50s.

  15. CountingCats says:

    I’ve just read a little about Melvyn’s BBC prog on The Magdalene. From what little it said I don’t see that it covers anything I wasn’t already aware of.

    Magdalene married to Jesus? Why not?

    Face it, if Jesus was married it would be nothing,so usual as to be not worth mentioning. But if he was not married? Now that would have been a situation so unusual that you would expect it to be mentioned in the scriptures.

  16. zack says:

    julie: By the way–we (Christians and former Christians *g*) are not Muslims: We know that Jesus was not Perfect: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

    Endless theological debate over that: Why did Jesus lose his faith for a bit, there on the Cross? Because he was human, that’s why, and thus (insofar as he was human) Imperfect. Else he could not have “atoned for” his fellow Men. It’s that very imperfection that gives meaning to the Resurrection.
    ————————————————
    I think that I’ve covered this before, but what the heck repetition never hurts (WARNING: long post incoming).

    Jesus was not despairing on the cross. His “my god my god, why have you abandoned me” is a direct quote from Psalm 22 (which interestingly enough is an almost exact description of the events around the crucifixion), something which even the pharisees recognized (though they said Elijah, not psalms). What is interesting about this is that in this psalm, it starts off in despair, but ends in triumph (“For he has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch, Did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out”
    and
    “the generation to come will be told of the LORD that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you have brought”). We also have him saying to the good thief “you will be with me today in paradise”. I don’t see despair in that.

    Orthodox Christianity (traditional, not like Greek Orthodox) DOES view Jesus as perfect. You have in the letters of Paul where he talks about Jesus being the ‘blame less victim’, and the ‘perfect sacrifice’. There is also the fact that in Jewish law the sin offering that was offered at the time of Passover had to ‘free of blemish’; if Jesus was to be a sin offering then he too had to be ‘free of blemish’, or sinless.

    Also, it should be noted that Jesus was not only fully man, but also fully God. If he was just a finite, imperfect man, then how would his death on The Cross be a final, perfect sacrifice? His Sacrifice would be finite also. The fact that he is also God(“he who sees me sees the father” and “my father and I are one”, etc. ) is what makes his Sacrifice perfect for All.

  17. zack says:

    Julie: By the way–I should think that if the Death and Resurrection are the promise of our ultimate Redemption (or Salvation), that would automatically rule out eternal condemnation. No Hell, no fire and brimstone for us.
    ——————————-
    … if you accept God and his mercy. Ultimately God (the source of all that is Good) wants a relationship with you, me, and everyone. But he’s not going to force himself on us – if we don’t accept that, we are cut off from that.

    What happens then? Well, “Hell is other people”.

  18. Penseivat says:

    A very interesting time spent by this (athiestic) reader on a subject very close to the Christian readership, especially at this time of year. My own (non) religious views came about from personal experiences of both sides of the Christian family (catholics and protestants) in which they were both found wanting. If Jesus died on the cross for all sins that have been committed, were being committed, and yet to be committed, that means that no matter how evil a person is in their lifetime, if Jesus died for their sins then they will surely enter the Kingdom of Heaven as if they were pure. In that sense, where is the incentive to be a really nice person and help others in this lifetime rather than be someone mugging old ladies for their pension money? In both cases, they will go to heaven. If I have committed a sin in being an athiest then I will still go to heaven as my own personal sin has been expunged.

  19. CountingCats says:

    Penseivat.

    You go to heaven if you genuinely accept Jesus as the Way. If you accept him as your savior, he is. If you don’t accept him as your savior, he isn’t.

    Your sins are washed away at baptism, but you will then have the opportunity to commit new ones. If you accept that opportunity then you are rejecting Jesus.

  20. Stan Mann says:

    They do “Happy Easter” here in Cz. As it’s one of the most secular countries in Europe, I think we’re looking at the pagan fertility fest remnant, the most obvious symptom of which is the pomlazka (available in most stores, including Tesco, on the run-up to Easter)

    This is a whip of sticks and ribbon, traditionally wielded on Easter Monday by the the young men of the village, who chastise the maidens of the village while reciting a verse that requests eggs from them……….. that’s fairly happy, I think.

    http://www.expats.cz/prague/article/czech-culture/easter-in-prague-2010/

  21. Julie near Chicao says:

    Very cool. Sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for the link–and Happy Easter!

  22. fnord says:

    I’ve been told that the day after Thanksgiving in the US is called Black Friday because for many businesses the sales on that day are what put them into the profit column for the year. Black ink don’t ya know.

  23. Julie near Chicao says:

    That would make sense, as the effect on the ledgers is pretty well established. Personally, I always think of the effect on the psyche of anyone foolish enough to enter a store on that day. Egad, crowds, lines, frustration to the 10th power — a black mood descends upon one and remains fixed in place until at least the subsequent Beltane!

    And of course, no one with any sense would even consider returning anything the day after Christmas. Sheer insanity! In fact, I recommend avoiding the stores for the entirety of the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

  24. Julie near Chicao says:

    Penseivat,

    Yes–I find the subject interesting in the same way you do, although I hope that discussing it in this way isn’t distressing to the actual Christians among us.

    Of course, I’m far from ruling out the possibility of a G-d of some sort — but His or Its attributes and actions would have to meet the criterion of being rationally understandable, at least insofar as they impinge upon this Universe (and I mean Universe in the philosophical, not the merely physical, sense).

    But if I were Christian and looking for a church with whose teachings or ideas I was basically in agreement, it would be one which attributed to God both justice and mercy (mercy: not to overdo the “justice” bit, and to seek always for understanding of the wrongdoer), and who did not blame Men for the results of His design for the Universe.

    I grew up in the Congregational Church, Midwestern variety, and there was some discussion of theological issues and various interpretations, but no doctrine, except that one must believe in God as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; and in Jesus as the Son of God. Those constituted the bare minimum. I suppose that if one seriously questioned the Virgin Birth or the reality of the Betrayal, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection, one would be considered somewhat too much of a Freethinker (in the original sense) by individual members of the congregation, but if one were a decent person I don’t think one would have been a pariah. –Oh, in any group some are more tolerant than others, of course.

    Our ministers (the good ones–not the Community Activist types) encouraged us to think for ourselves in forming our understanding of and relationship with God. And any belief that we should fear God was certainly discourage. “God is love” was much closer to their message. (Of course, the congregation did have members who were of the “Fear the wrath of God” mind.)

    I suppose I’m still doing that–trying to understand God. *g*

    On the human side, religious tolerance, and the tolerance of other humans generally–that is, the refusal to condemn without careful consideration–were a value, as was charity; but there was no proselytizing and certainly no urge toward missionary activity.

    So anyway, there are several different lines of interpretation within the umbrella of the religion called Christianity. I don’t think that all aspects of all of them are logically compatible, let alone emotionally satisfying.

    I don’t see how the Death and Resurrection could possibly serve as actual blanket atonement for all the sins of mankind, past present and future. But I do think they could serve symbolically, as a sign that we can always hope for God’s forgiveness (or His understand and indeed acceptance of human shortcomings); for if Jesus was wholly God, he was also wholly man and so (contrary to Zack above) subject to imperfections in his humanness. (I did find a reference from a site by a chapter of a Franciscan lay order–which is considered a proper Order by Rome–that takes something like this view.)

    But we must be truly sorry, and express our atonement somehow. One of the great sticking points, then, is, “How is this to be done?” So as I said before, I think the idea of Purgatory was an answer to this question. A different answer lies in Jesus’ Last Word: “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” If there is a symbolism to this, I’d interpret it as meaning that if one is prepared to reject entirely all darkness within oneself and to allow the knowledge of and actual experiencing of God’s love and beneficence in its place–than that constitutes atonement.

    There’s a lot to be said in examining all this from the viewpoint of an explicitly outside observer…but we’re already getting longer that War and Peace here. ;)

  25. CountingCats says:

    I hope that discussing it in this way isn’t distressing to the actual Christians among us.

    And I am indifferent. They are free not to read.

  26. Julie near Chicao says:

    zack,

    Not to keep flogging the poor horse, but I just want register complete agreement with your statement

    … if you accept God and his mercy. Ultimately God (the source of all that is Good) wants a relationship with you, me, and everyone. But he’s not going to force himself on us – if we don’t accept that, we are cut off from that.

    What happens then? Well, “Hell is other people”.

    Exactly. ;>)

  27. John Galt says:

    My own personal hell would be to be trapped in a room with Richard Murphy, Polly Toynbee and George “Moonbat” Mombiot.

  28. Arthur Fischer says:

    I have done a lot of research on the origins of Easter and found that it started in ancient Babylon. This word or name does not have anything to do with the Resurrection of Jesus. Two different words, two different definitions. As a Christian I say Happy Resurrection. If you do the same research and find the same results, you may feel the same as I and many others do. A Pastor by the name of David Meyer who leads the Last Trumpet Ministries International has made video’s on the origins of Easter and says the same thing about this pagan name! The Easter bunny started in 16th century Germany and the eggs have nothing to do with Jesus and His Resurrection. When we worship, we should worship in truth and in His Spirit and not in the spirit of man’s traditions!

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