Eastereg­ghunthis­to­ryrich­in­re­li­gious­themes

The Colonial - - OPINION - Don­ald Scott

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.

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