WHAT IS EASTER?
The name Easter is from the ancient Anglo-Saxon form éastre. Eastre was the goddess of fertility, whose rites were celebrated at the vernal (spring) equinox. This springtime emphasis accounts for the orientation of the rituals towards the boosting of fertility, hence the rabbits, eggs and so on that are always associated with Easter.
The word equinox means “equal night”. The Spring Equinox is the time when the Sun reaches the balancing point in its path through the tropical zodiac, when the length of the day is equal to the length of the night. It marks the beginning of the new astrological year, as the Sun enters the first degree of Aries, the Ram. It is marked in the Christian Calendar by the Festival of the Annunciation of the Virgin (Lady Day) on March 25. This major calendrical event is the focus of religious and social festivities in all cultures, and is the key to the timing of Easter.
The death of the old year and the rebirth of the new has been celebrated since time immemorial among different cultures and religions, on or around the spring equinox, which is why the death and resurrection of Jesus is celebrated at this time. Aries is the sign of the exaltation of the Sun, for it marks the time when the days of light begin to outstrip the nights of darkness (for this reason the Ram is also the Fall of Saturn).
EGGS AND CHRISTIANISM
The egg is seen by followers of Christianity as symbolic of the grave and life renewed or resurrected by breaking out of it. A different legend concerns Mary Magdalene’s efforts to spread the Gospel. According to this Christian tradition, after the Ascension of Jesus, Mary went to the Emperor of Rome and greeted him with “Christ has risen,” whereupon he pointed to an egg on his table and stated, “Christ has no more risen than that egg is red.” After making this statement it is said the egg immediately turned blood red.
WHY DO PEOPLE EAT FISH DURING EASTER?
The fish was depicted as a Christian symbol in the first decades of the second century. The symbol itself may have been suggested by the miraculous multiplication of the loaves and fishes or the repast of the seven Disciples, after the Resurrection, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Its popularity among Christians was due principally, it would seem, to the famous acrostic consisting of the initial letters of five Greek words forming the word for fish (Ichthys), which words briefly but clearly described the character of Christ and the claim to worship of believers: Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, meaning, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour…