It's that time of year again, the time when we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord & thus our own resurrection, that of His Body, the Church! Next Sunday is Easter Sunday & while most Christians will be celebrating this holiday ( holy day ), to one extent or another, some, realizing its pagan roots, have sworn it off, protesting that it is actually an ancient celebration of fertility & sex, centered around the goddess Ishtar. While it doubtless true that the traditional orthodox Christian celebration of Easter has pagan roots ( as do many Christian holydays, doctrines & other practices ), Christendom celebrates the Resurrection of our Lord, not the goddess of sex & fertility, each year, at this time!
Bunnies & Eggs; what DO they have to do with the Resurrection of Jesus?! Well, one might say, 'nothing' & while in one sense they'd be correct, in another, they'd be almost dead wrong! Rabbits, or bunnies, as we affectionately call them, are one of the most famously prolific animals out there; they are at the center of one of the most famous ( or is that 'infamous' ) phrases associated with sexual intercourse. Eggs are but one symbol of new life that we may note in our biological world ( at least the promise, or possibility of it ). Both eggs & bunnies, then, may be seen to symbolize new life. The Resurrection of Jesus brought New Life, so there you have it!
It goes without saying ( but I'll say it anyway ) that the act of sexual intercourse, which normally involves the female's egg being fertilized by the male's sperm, is actually a fairly good representation of what happens spiritually when one is born from above! Just as our ( human ) institution of marriage, as the apostle Paul states quite firmly, is a picture of 'Christ and the church', so the act of sexual intercourse ( in its reproductive capacity ) pictures what takes place when the Holy Spirit, as in the example of Mary & the Virgin Birth, comes upon an individual to their reconciliation!
The question before us is, 'should we celebrate this Christianized pagan holiday?' Easter is not the only pagan holiday that has been Christianized for our consumption! One might ask why we should celebrate these holidays that obviously have pagan roots, but really, when you think about it, 'how old is Christianity?' If you count the birth of Christianity from the Time of Christ, it's about 2,000 years old or so. 'How long have pagans been around?' Well, take into account the fact that 'pagan' simply means 'one who dwells in the country', we may note that they have been around for a sight longer than Christianity; of course many of our practices ( including holidays ) are going to have pagan roots!
Pagan roots do not necessarily denote 'evil'! Though Ishtar, or the goddess of sex & fertility ( along with love & war ), is a false god, a mere idol, there is nothing wrong ( except 'war' ) with what she is said to represent! Love, sex & fertility are a very necessary part of life. Without them, there would be no new life! The puritanical notion that the 'sex act' is somehow impure or shameful is one that has plagued Christianity for years. Maybe this is a result of over-reacting to the perversion of this natural form of intercourse, but us the case may be, it has enjoyed a certain stigma for ages past.
So, rabbits are VERY prolific: I'm not by any means an authority on the subject, but I've heard that one must be VERY careful when raising rabbits, keeping them separate ( unless, of course, you want 'bunnies' ) & other concerns that I won't mention here. Just like any animal, or most anyway, rabbits are made, by their Creator, with certain body parts engineered specifically, though not solely, for the purpose of reproduction ( recreation? ). Although they might enjoy the title of being the most prolific; they are most certainly NOT the only animals that take full advantage of these members; the human animal has this capacity, as well as the natural longing to use them!
Eggs are naturally the result ( speaking of chicken eggs, in particular ) of sexual intercourse; whether we're speaking of humans, chickens or snakes, eggs are definitely part of the process! In fact, when you think about it, even humans are encased in a sort of 'egg' before they're born ( hatched ). What better object can you think of to represent new life than an egg?! For the purposes of our consumption, as well, the egg must ( if fertilized, anyway ) undergo a sort of 'death' ( like Jesus ) to bring life to us.
Easter Egg hunts might represent the search for new life! This may be somewhat of a stretch & a further attempt to baptize a purely pagan ritual ( though it's enjoyed by many or most Christian congregations ), but it might help to explain why it has become such an accepted ritual. Though we do not like the pagan roots of this holiday, just like other holidays & practices we have adopted, we should not refuse to celebrate them simply because they were enjoyed for other purposes before Christ was revealed.
Easter stands for Resurrection! Whether one wants to get down to the 'nitty-gritty' of life in the real world, or simply to baptize it in the 'waters' of Christendom, Easter, even Ishtar, represents new life & that's what resurrection is all about, right? One must determine within themselves, both whether it is right that they, along with the majority of Christians, should set aside one special day, or season, out of the year, to celebrate our New Life ( which doesn't come without 'bunnies & eggs' ), as well as whether we can legitimately 'borrow' & baptize an aspect of the celebration of life before the Christ!
Charles Haddon Shank