Easter is time for new growth. It signals a time for life, growth of plants and awakening of animals after a winter of hibernation and darkness. The time of year which, for a large proportion of the world, marks the beginning of lighter and longer days as the seasons shift towards the warmer summer days.
But Easter is far more than that for Christians. Easter is the time that Christians remember the resurrection of Jesus and realisation of the new covenant of the way, the truth and the life accessible through Christ.
In modern society, the real meaning of Easter, just as in the real meaning of Christmas, has become a marketing dream in an increasingly secular world. Easter is now about chocolate eggs and time off work and school while the religious aspect has been pushed firmly to the back of our consciousness.
Although Easter Day is one of the two days of the year when it’s illegal for shops to trade in the UK, it still doesn’t stop them from opening. Potential buyers are still allowed to browse some stores as they are tempted with discount vouchers for trading the following day.
Easter is now a multi-million pound business and, just like Christmas, Easter Day itself has become just another day in the lives of many busy people. There is very little special about it and very little made sacred by a world which is promoting individuality and consumerism.
But what about the background of Easter? It can’t be claimed wholly as a Christian festival. It has its roots as a pagan festival which celebrated the start and growth of life and nature. In many ways, the Christian church took a pagan fertility festival which the pagans had used for centuries to celebrate the resurrection of pagan gods and adapted it to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The rabbits, the chicks and the eggs are no coincidence when it comes to fertility and birth. There is also the hot cross bun whose cross represents the four seasons. And this may help to explain why the actual date of Easter can vary each year, yet Easter has been linked with Christianity and the resurrection of Jesus for so long that they have become almost inseparable. But whatever the origins of the festival it clearly has some link with gods, whether Christian or pagan.
However, money is now the status symbol being literally the currency to get on in life and the question of consumerism becoming our new 21st century god is still open to debate.