Easter holiday a special time for reflection

Friday, March 25, 2005

Like the season in which it falls, there's something uncertain, yet reassuring about the Easter holiday most of us are observing this weekend.

Based on the Jewish Passover, the holiday is observed in March or April each year to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead after his death by crucifixion.

As anyone who has lived in the Golden Plains for any amount of time can tell you, travel to visit relatives over the Easter holiday as anything but a sure thing. As our neighbors in northern Nebraska can tell us, March can be a good time for massive amounts of snow.

Yet, other years, Easter can be a pleasant time to be outdoors, wearing our spring finery to church or collecting easter eggs with the kids.

If it has been a long winter, the holiday can be a much welcome sign that yes, spring weather is really on the way. It's no wonder, really, that we enjoy celebrating Easter so much.

Each year, more than 118 million Easter cards are exchanged, the fourth largest card-sending event in the United States.

In 2002, more than 700 million Marshmallow Peeps were eaten in America, more than double the 300 million Cadbury Creme Eggs that are produced each year.

Traditionally a Christian holiday, Easter nevertheless contains non-Christian references, most notably the Easter bunny, which was once called the Easter Hare.

Supposedly, some say, he was once a large, handsome bird that belonged to Eostre, the pagan goddess of dawn, fertility and new beginnings. She changed him into a rabbit, which explains why the Easter bunny now builds a nest and fills it with colored eggs.

But that doesn't mean Christians avoid such pagan references, such as those in England or Germany, who roll eggs down hills on Easter morning as a symbolic reminder of the rock that rolled away from Jesus Christ's tomb when He was resurrected.

Traditionally, church attendance is at a peak this Sunday, when many appear who have not darkened the sanctuary's door since Christmas. Colored eggs, candy, a crucifixion and tomb; yet a hope in resurrection. Perhaps Easter isn't such a contradiction after all.

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