There are few things more exciting to a child — and some adults for that matter — than the socalled traditional Easter egg hunt annually offered by such communities as Cheltenham.
InWyncote’s Curtis Hall Arboretum my grandson, Kingston, vigorously pursued the delicious treats and sweets amid dozens of other scrambling kids.
And if truth be told, I gladly participated in such escapades that were often organized by churches or mom in our backyard with the anticipation that I would gather more of the eggs— and sometimes various candy items — than my three brothers and other children.
Yet, too many people and youngsters don’t realize how the tradition began and its ties to the legendary Easter bunny, as well as the true essence of the Easter season. Have such commemorations become too commercial and materialistic?
In fact, many will be surprised to know that “the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs [were] linked to Pagan traditions,” asserts writer Amanda Hermes for www.ehow.com, adding that “rabbits were the sacred animal of the Saxon goddess of spring and fertility.”
And in reality, when America was still a very young country the Easter bunny legend was first brought to Pennsylvania by Germans based on their homeland’s “egg-laying hare named ‘Osterhase,’” Hermes notes, then it spread around the country quicker than the things could reproduce.
German kids even built nests for the critters, leaving them outdoors for the hares to deposit their tasty eggs that symbolize in Christianity Jesus Christ emerging from the tomb after being resurrected, analogous to a baby bird hatching from its shell with the gift of a new life, several sources indicate. Similarly, humans and true believers of Christ would also hatch with eternal lives with their acceptance of Christian doctrine and the Messiah.
“The idea of an egg-laying rabbit might have started with the Romans, who believed that all life came from eggs,” Hermes continues. “Another link between the rabbit and the egg comes from Pagan traditions, in which the rabbit was associated with the moon and the egg with the sun.”
Yet, even well before the development of Christianity, ostrich eggs were decorated 60,000 years ago in Africa, according to England’s University of Cambridge in the article, “Hunting for the world’s oldest decorated eggs,” at www.cam.ac.uk, authored by archeologist Stewart.
In South Africa, Stewart has found eggs ranging in many hues, “including black, beige, yellow, orange, teal and even bright red,” the color used by Christians centuries later that represented the blood of the crucified Jesus.
The resurrection of Christ, according to historians, is one of at least a dozen or so accounts involving historical figures or legends originating after and before Jesus’ crucifixion with Stewart confirming that “People were decorating for eggs long before Easter .…”
In Africa’s ancient Egypt, the legend of Osiris that developed 24 centuries B.C. involved Osiris dying and returning to “life at least twice,” according to the article, “10 Resurrected Religious Figures” at www.listverse.com.
Osiris subsequently became known as the Lord of the Dead, a concept that likely developed from aspects of religious practices or concepts in sub-Saharan Africa and black Nubia, according to various researchers.
Other resurrection concepts or stories, according to listverse.com, include Dionysus, “the Ancient Greek god of wine and
Brian divine madness,” also “Twice-born,” and involving “the death and rebirth” of the deity.
And there are also interesting resurrection accounts about Persephone, who was the daughter of the Greek goddess Demeter, as well as the primary god of Norse mythology, Odin; Hinduism’s holy figures Ganesha and Krishna; the Finnish story concerning Lemminkainen; the Sumerian god of vegetation, Tammuz; and to some degree the ancient story of Gilgamesh; the Mesoamerica god, Quetzalcoatl and others.
Although most children are certainly not aware of the deep and historical theology elements to religious resurrection concepts, it’s important for them to realize that the notion of rebirth is vital and parallels the essence of nature itself — no matter their religious upbringing.
To me, Easter egg hunts and the fertility of rabbits represent the universality of optimism, adventure and acknowledging that such goodness has existed in one way or another since and even before the dawn of human history.
Most important, I believe true goodness perpetuates itself, leading to divine rebirth from the proverbial egg and infinite salvation or deliverance.
Don ‘Ogbewii’ Scott, a Melrose Park resident, can be reached at dscott9703@ aol.com.