In the commune we did not celebrate the death of Jesus; but his birth, his life, his purpose, and his ascension. As a little girl we celebrated the birth of Christ on April 6th and his resurrection on the Sunday immediately following. It was common knowledge that Jesus was born in the spring; it was the time when nature gave birth to lambs and so it was also with the Lamb of God. As the daughter of a bookkeeper I knew that taxes were due in April, and that Jesus was born during tax season, and so it made perfect sense that we celebrate Jesus birthday that time of year. We celebrated his birth with the gusto of every family member’s birth, with birthday cake and all.
When it came to celebrating the resurrection of Christ it was a reverent and quiet retrospection of his life and his purpose. The dogma in my community surrounding the birth and death of Christ was a belief that both were at the same time of year. We were taught that his death was on his 33rd birthday and his resurrection occurred three days later. And so his birth and his resurrection were celebrated at the same time each spring, as close to the actual date as possible.
It was not until new and more worldly members moved into the commune that I even knew Easter existed. There was no discussion whether this, the most Pagan holiday of all, would even be considered. There was no denying the paganism of Easter, the only thing Christian about it was the remembrance of the resurrection of Christ, which had absolutely nothing to do with bunnies and eggs. And so sweeping it under the rug and pretending it did not exist was simple enough for the leaders of our community. Eventually the desires of the people overturned the rulings of the leaders and Easter became a recognized tradition, albeit without the eggs and bunnies. It was more for the convenience of coordinating spring break from school so that members could leave the community and join their friends and family in the real world celebration of Easter.
When I got older and went in search of the real meaning behind Easter I was surprised to discover just how accurate my father and the leaders of my community were. Easter is indeed among the most Pagan of all the Christian celebrations. The date in itself follows the stages of the sun and the moon, creating very inconsistent timing each year. Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring Equinox. It is a celebration of the Pagan Gods of fertility. It is the celebration of new life and a time when the earth gives birth to all new things. It is a collection of Pagan beliefs and traditions all wrapped up into one convenient package.
So, how did Jesus end up getting involved with bunnies and eggs? It is simple, when the emperor Constantine saw the opportunity in becoming Christian he needed to mold his new religion around the existing Roman culture in order to make it more palatable to his people, yet still meet the customs of the underlying Jewish traditions of the Christians. As the Catholic Church engulfed the planet it allowed the traditions of the cultures it assimilated to be included into its structure. We ended up with a blend of traditions that appear to have no correlation yet are all based in ancient paganism.
For more information on the history of Easter visit www.history.com