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Easter: More to it than meets the Eye

For many students nearing the end of the semester, the long Easter weekend was a brief respite before the gruelling exam period. Easter bunnies, chocolate eggs, marshmallows, jelly-beans and hot cross buns decorated shop stands throughout the world. So besides being an extra-long weekend and brief surge in holiday sales, what is so important about Easter? Andrew Lim offers a brief crash course on the meaning behind Easter.

While Easter has been secularized and commercialized, its religious significance has not been completely eroded. For us Christians, Good Friday and Easter Sunday commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Due to its ethnic diversity, Singapore has become home to many diverse religious communities including Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Taoists and Christians. All these religious communities have their own special holidays which commemorate important themes and events in their faiths. For Christians, Easter not only commemorates the resurrection of Christ but the restoration of the spiritual relationship between God and humanity who had been separated by Sin. So what is Sin? For us and other Abrahamic faiths like Judaism and Islam, the concept of Sin refers to any bad or malevolent actions and thoughts including stealing, murder, dishonesty, envy, hatred and lust.

According to the Christian worldview, all human beings have sinned and are thus destined to eternal punishment in Hell. For Christians, it is futile to attain salvation through our own means, including good deeds. Within Abrahamic religions, salvation refers to the delivery of souls from the consequences of sin. Christians believe that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ through his voluntary death on the cross and subsequent resurrection. The significance of salvation is that it is a free gift from God given to an undeserving humanity. The resurrection of Christ is a central theme in our faith and identity.

Here are some questions about Easter you might be curious to ask. Why doesn’t Easter have a fixed date? This is because Easter is a moveable festival which occurs on the first Sunday after the Full Moon following the Northern Hemisphere’s vernal equinox. Now, why spread it out over three days spanning Friday to Sunday? This reflects the Christian belief that Jesus lay in the tomb for three days before being resurrected. Good Friday commemorates his trials and execution while Easter Sunday celebrates his resurrection.

We must however also acknowledge its pre-Christian pagan roots. The modern holiday we identify as Easter originated from the European spring festival celebrating the spring equinox. According to some cultural historians and literary experts, the name Easter is derived from Eostre, the Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility. The chocolate and marshmallow eggs and rabbits were ancient symbols of fertility in the Middle East and Europe. After Christianity became established as the state religion of the Roman Empire after

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313 AD (CE), the Church sought to ‘christianize’ society by incorporating Christian themes into existing popular holidays like the spring equinox and Christmas. While some Christians have fretted over its pagan roots, holidays

and festivities provide a glimpse into the cultural heritage of a society. Easter has proven that religion and culture can coexist in harmony.

In Singapore and much of Southeast Asia, Easter festivities were first introduced by the European colonial powers particularly the British. Christian missions helped incorporate the holiday into the Singaporean cultural calendar. So, whether you view Easter as an extra holiday or a religious commemoration, there is more to it than meets the eye. Why do we have holidays? Is it just to get some extra sleep or is it to commemorate some particular cultural, historic and religious themes. Perhaps, we should ponder more on the meaning of our holidays rather than just sleeping in.

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  1. Joselin May 1, 2012 Reply

    During this past week long spring break, I went to a coulpe cities and got some other things done. I am from the Mid-Eastern Wisconsin and I live on a farm so I wasn’t able to do too much or go too far away for a while. But my family and I went down to Gurney, Illinois for a day then we went to Chicago to visit a cousin and go and see the zoo there. The next day we went back to Gurney to do some more shopping then left for home. Back at home we had to separate some of our cattle, we had to separate last year’s calves from the cows. This is so that when the cows have their calves withen the next few months the older calves won’t hurt them. On Easter Sunday my family and I went to my dad’s side of the family first, then to my mom’s side after. On the way to my aunt’s house my dad was turning the corner a little fast, and the baked beans spilled all over the back seats. There’s nothing like the smell/look of spilled beans in a vehicle so I ended my break by cleaning up the mess. It was also my Mom’s birthday on Easter, so we had cake for her at each place we went for Easter. This is a sum up of my 2010 spring break.

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