Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Eggs and Jesus' Rebirth?

Mr. Lankford recently directed me to the following statement that betrays a misunderstanding of the connection between Easter and eggs:
Easter means nothing to me. Which is why I bought all these eggs.

Eggs aren't religious symbols to me. I'm not a Christian recognising the death and rebirth of Jesus. Not a Jew celebrating the triumph of life over death as told in the Passover Haggadah. Not a pagan invoking springtime and life's renewal. (I approve of springtime and life's renewal, just not in a spiritual way.)
(source)
I'd like to take a second to clarify a couple of things. For those atheists who have no idea what Christianity teaches, we do not teach that Christ was reborn. Christ died and was resurrected from the dead on the third day. That resurrection was of the same body that died, not a new body.

Christianity also speaks of a rebirth or regeneration, but this is a spiritual rebirth, and it is something all those who believe in Christ have already experienced. It is a transformation of the spiritual faculties of man so that he turns from a hatred of God and disbelief in His Son, to a love of God and belief in His Son.

But what about the eggs? Everyone knows that Easter eggs are a popular tradition around Easter time. What's that about?

The eggs may get tagged by various folks with various theological explanations, but the fact of the matter is more straightforward. During Lent (a fasting period of 40 days before Easter) the traditional fast included abstinence from a number of things, including eggs.

Chickens, however, continue to lay eggs during this time of year, since they are unaware of this tradition, which did not come from their creator. Thus, by the time Easter comes around one has potentially a large number of eggs that have been laid that are just sitting around. The result is a glut of eggs on the market around Easter time, making them quite cheap for a short amount of time, as well as making them available for such frivolities as painting etc.

It is simply a tradition that arose out of someone's desire to turn eggs into something more interesting and decorative than they were. Also, hard-boiled and painted, an egg can last quite a while, even without refrigeration (please don't test this and don't view this blog as medical or dietary advice). Once Easter arrives and the Lenten fast is over, the painted eggs can be cracked up and eaten, and other egg-intensive foods (such as pastries and "pascha breads") can be made at a relatively affordable cost.

The eggs, therefore, may have been tagged with significance by some folks (some parish priests seem fond of tagging everything with significance) - but such a significance is ex post facto, with more practical and aesthetic considerations being chief.

-TurretinFan

12 comments:

Kyle said...

TurretinFan,

Where did you get this info about the history of the Easter egg? I've always read that it originated as a pagan fertility symbol.

Turretinfan said...

I would be surprised if the egg were not a pagan fertility symbol. I would be surprised, though, if synchretism were to blame for Easter eggs.

I cannot recall where I got the various bits of info I produced above. Looking around for confirmation, I note that the art of coloring eggs is quite old, and does seem to come from Ukraine.

http://www.phancypages.com/newsletter/ZNewsletter2771.htm

I do not mean to suggest in the article above that decorating eggs is in any way a uniquely Christian practice, but I would tend to view doing so at Easter time to be a practical matter of having all these eggs lying about.

-TurretinFan

brigand said...

Like arguing that the Christmas tree is a pagan fertility symbol, attempting to make syncretism a cause when the actual pagan practice is greatly removed in both time and space is just a variety of a post hoc fallacy.

Besides, painted eggs are pretty.

Kyle said...

brigand,

It is one thing to point out the origins of a custom, quite another to speak to the contemporary function & meaning of said custom.

I agree that Easter eggs are harmless in themselves, even if they originate in pagan fertility rites.

natamllc said...

"Was Easter Borrowed from a Pagan Holiday? The historical evidence contradicts this popular notion", by Anthony McRoy, the article is published on ChristianHistory.net.

If you want a very simple and succinct history lesson on the origins of Easter from a Historical point of view, I suggest you find your way to the above mentioned cited article by Anthony McRoy. It would be worth a read to know some of what is floating out there and why. It seemed sound enough to me, in the Faith, to venture it hereon recommending it to your readers who would want to know some historical Truths?

As for the egg. What I find most interesting is the connection, the chicken, the eggs, the rabbit and the babies. Chickens hatch from their eggs, chickens. Rabbits raise from birth rabbits.

As with everything else in the natural form and substance of creation, it seems to me this event, how some cultures "celebrate" Easter, coloring "Easter" eggs and then hiding them so that they are "found", "EUREKA! I found it!!" by "children", "babes" is quite profound and indicative of how the god of this world taints and taunts everything that points to "Life" in Jesus Christ. He can confuse the message by rabbits and colored eggs, but he cannot defuse it. The Gospel bears its own fruit even in the Easter Egg hunt! Cf. Col. 1:6.

Consider that once all the eggs are brought home after the "Easter Egg Hunt", mommy cracks open the shell, takes out the edible portions and can make several sorts of mixtures. One mix is called "devil's egg salad" for making "devil's egg sandwiches". Hmmmmmm.

I don't know the origin of the "Easter egg" portion of the culture I find myself growing up into, but the article on ChristianHistory.net lays out clearly why Christians should exercise their Blood purchased liberty in Christ to wish well upon the living and the dead, "Happy Easter" or as we contextually say, "Happy Resurrection Day"!

Equally to the point is the article of the Athiest and why she buys eggs so cheaply this time of year. Their whole life is found in the natural ebb and flow of Nature, the cycles of time and space, place and persons, absent any attribution of Our Creator.

So she tells the "truth" about what is created, though she is quite deceived by the lies she believes is "Truth". Go figure!

Now, here's my spin on the Easter Egg and what seems to be so significant to me. The Chicken lays the egg. If it is allowed to mature and develop it hatches as a chicken. That chicken or rooster will end up in the frying pan or pot or allowed to continue the "life" cycle of chickens laying and producing more eggs. If it is picked up for food purposes, it dies that those who eat it might have life from partaking of it and the nutrients within it as a poached egg, a soft boiled egg, a hard boiled egg, as scrambled eggs, as sunny side up eggs or as an egg salad mixture, etc.

As for the significance of the Easter bunny laying colored artful eggs that have been "boiled" in deadly waters and then made into something edible seems to me to be that part of life where Satan, the god of this world, has gotten his perverseness to cloud our understanding of Life making light of it when in fact by its significance, we might just be able to make a connection between Christ's being "boiled" by him, the god of the world, and then, against the devil's wishes, is partaken of for Life and Godliness as a part of the Holy Christian Church's sacraments. The devil just cannot win, can he? :)

One final note regarding His "eternal" nature and our rebirth. What He experienced did not dim the flame nor the "Life" of the Light of the Glory of God, in that He is One of Three Eternal Personalities who are even still on a mission to redeem by a Covenant between the Three Their Elect from every tribe, kindred, tongue and nation. He, Jesus, finished His Redemptive Work already. The Holy Ghost vindicated that work of Redemption and He was brought back "again", by the power of the Resurrection, to that place He left to accomplish the work on earth that Only He was able to accomplish.

We, of course, those who are "known", before the foundation of the world, as the Called and the Elect, are the reason for that Work being accomplished and for Christianity's celebration of this holiday.

We were in spiritual jeopardy. He, by His Grace and His Eternal Life and Nature, saved us, saves us and will save us from that jeopardy so that by His "status again" as Our Living Hope, after we have been and are being born again by the power of His Resurrection, will now live as happy easter recipients of Their Eternal Life, that inheritance received by Grace through Faith, the Gift of God, which is indeed the reason for Christianity's celebration of that Passover event as born again, New Creatures in Christ!

The unregenerates and reprobates are going to spin their sad life experiences the way they are. I did, until God, by His great mercy, caused me to be born again to this Living Hope by the power of the Resurrection of Christ, to obtain an inheritance, undefiled, holy and preserved in Heaven for me too!

It bears repeating the Apostle Paul again:::>

Col 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
Col 2:9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
Col 2:10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.
Col 2:11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
Col 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
Col 2:14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
Col 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
Col 2:16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.
Col 2:17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
Col 2:18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,
Col 2:19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
Col 2:20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations--
Col 2:21 "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch"
Col 2:22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)--according to human precepts and teachings?
Col 2:23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

Lucian said...

So neither Moses, nor Christ, nor Elijah fasted for forty days from meat wine and women before going up each their respective mount? (I guess that part's just in Orthodox and Catholic Bibles, right?)

Turretinfan said...

umm ... Jesus wasn't married and Moses was an octagenarian. I don't think we're told whether Elijah was married.

Jesus didn't eat or drink for 40 days - Moses' lengthy fast was also miraculous. If more Orthodox folks actually tried to repeat what Jesus did, there would be fewer of them raising red herrings in the comment boxes.

-TurretinFan

Lvka said...

You lied against God. And yes, I do have a serious problem with that.

Turretinfan said...

Luka: Who are you accusing of lying against God? And what is this lie supposed to consist of?

Lucian said...

The lie consists in saying "Lent has no Scriptural basis", when it so obviously does. (You might have argued: "we're not supposed to do it anymore", like the Reformed and the Protestants usually do,... but instead You chose to appeal to an outright denial of truth to help bolster Your case... which is deeply disturbing and problematic).

Now, I've also been thinking of what You've said, and I think it is to a certain extent true: but if so, then why not also do the same for Christmas and June 29, which are also preceded by long periods of fasting? (The most convincing explanation I've heard so far was from a Roman Catholic priest on a local TV show: hard-boiled eggs are also a part of the traditional Jewish Sedder-plate, and since Christianity has its historical roots in Judaism... )

Turretinfan said...

Lucian:

I posted your comments above so that you would have a chance to "make your case" for the idea that there was some sort of lie involved.

To be clear, though, there is no Scriptural teaching of Lent. It is not something that the Apostles did, and it is not something that we are required (or even encouraged) by Scripture to do.

Fasting - yes.

Lent - no.

-TurretinFan

Godith said...

Why aren't chickens on board with the tradition of Lent?
They must be Protestant chickens.