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Happy Easter

Happy Easter everyone.  Bitter and I were noticing how bright out it was last night with the full moon, and then it occurred to her that Easter is always the first full moon after the start of spring.  It then occurred to me how pagan such a means of determining when Easter fell was.  That would essentially mean you’d need a way to determine the vernal equinox, and then you’d need some kind of calendar based on the moon.  After that, how far do you really have to go before you’re sacrificing virgins to your fire god?

Also interesting that the word Easter is derived from the month on the Germanic Calendar dedicated to the goddess Eostre, who early Europeans celebrated by feasting around this time of year.

Enjoy your holiday folks, but please, no sacrificing virgins.

UPDATE: Some people are offended by my attempt at humor.  Apologies to anyone offended.  I am not intending to make fun of anyone for celebrating Easter, just poking fun at how the date of the holiday was selected.

UPDATE: Apologies to atheist readers who are disappointed at my attempt at reconciliation with my Christian readers who were offended by the original post.  Perhaps someday the People’s Front of Judea, and the Judaean People’s Front will be able to live side by side in harmony.

UPDATE: I should note that I am the product of an orange Irish/German paternity, and a Catholic Irish/German maternity, so if I took this stuff too serious myself, I’d blow myself up with a car bomb.

42 Responses to “Happy Easter”

  1. Laughingdog says:

    Actually, it’s tied to the lunar calendar because the Last Supper occured during Passover, and the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar. “Easter” is also not the original name for the holiday. The original name was Greek (Pascha) which is derived from the Hebrew word for Passover.

  2. Sebastian says:

    Original in what language? In Romantic languages it keeps with its Greek/Hebrew roots.

  3. Lysander says:

    Laughingdog is about 90% right; the Hebrew Calendar is soli-lunar (and a real bloody pain in the backside to reproduce, from scratch, programmatically) taking into account both lunar months and the solar year, and the Last Supper was either the First or Second Seder (I’m not calculating all the way back to see which one it was ;) ).

    As for the Easter/Eostre connection – it wouldn’t be the first time for such an “adoption”. How many of the Christmas-traditional items would have appeared in Judea as opposed to the (pagan) Germanic regions?

  4. Lysander says:

    Oh, one point I missed: on the Hebrew calendar, “days” start at what the Gregorian calendar would call “sundown of the day before.” IOW, Today (Sunday) is Yom Aleph (first day of the week); Yom Bet (second day) starts 6:25 EDT (local); or in just under an hour of this comment.

  5. Dano says:

    Enjoy your holiday folks, but please, no sacrificing virgins.

    Depends on your definition of sacrifice…

  6. Clint says:

    “Holy days” as a general rule are inherited from Catholicism, not New Testament doctrines. The King James, translated by Anglican clergy as directed by the King of England at the time, wrongly translate Acts 12:4 to include the word “Easter” but the original Greek is, as noted by Laughingdog, “Pascha,” or anglicized, “Passover.” The only holy day you will find in the New Testment being observed by the primitive Christians is Pentecost, cited by Paul in 1Corinthians 16:8.

    Yes, there is far more paganism than New Testament doctrine in the celebration of Easter. However, it is good to know that you did not miss an opportunity to take a swipe at your Christian readers on what many consider their holiest day of the calendar. The same criticism you aim at the anti-gun movement can be aimed at you on your recurring anti-Christian agenda. You come off half-cocked with a less than base knowledge criticizing something you know little about or have bothered to research.

    It’s okay, really. Jesus warned us that the world would hate us. I am grateful that the Founders saw fit to not only include the Second Amendment, but the Establishment Clause in the First as well. You are a wonderful advocate for the parts of the Bill of Rights that suit your needs. Others of us will defend the document and the philosophy that inspired it as a whole.

  7. Rustmeister says:

    Clint’s right in paragraph two.

    I never expected anything so stupid to come from this site.

  8. Sebastian says:

    It was humor guys. Don’t take it too seriously.

  9. Sebastian says:

    The same criticism you aim at the anti-gun movement can be aimed at you on your recurring anti-Christian agenda.

    Recurring anti-Christian agenda? Where?

  10. Sebastian says:

    Added as an update: “Some people are offended by my attempt at humor. Apologies to anyone offended. I am not intending to make fun of anyone for celebrating Easter, just poking fun at how the date of the holiday was selected.”

  11. I hadn’t actually read your post yet when I wrote this.
    Still, since you bash “easter” from the non-Christian perspective, allow me have a go from the Christian perspective.

  12. Oh, come on, guys! He was just joking, and it was funny. And I have never found any anti-Christian bias here. I read this blog every day.

    One thing I will add, however, Sebastian–from the Christian perspective the date for Easter directly relates to Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, and Lent always lasts for 40 days leading up to Holy Week, which is always one week prior to Easter Sunday, according to the Christian calendar.

  13. Joe Huffman says:

    Lighten up everyone. I always gave present day Christians and Jews credit for more sense than those that would behead people because of some cartoons. Don’t make me reevaluate.

    [One of my favorite Easter stories is when my wife, not thinking things through, asked a Jewish friend if his family was going to do anything special that weekend. He replied that traditionally they dance in a circle saying, “We killed him! We killed him!” Everyone within earshot, Christian and Jew, laughed at that.]

  14. Regarding the computation of the date of Pascha… and since I’m a complete nerd, here’s the algorithm used by the Orthodox church:

    G = year MOD 19
    I = ((19 * G) + 15) MOD 30
    J = (year + (year/4) + I) MOD 7
    L = I – J
    Easter Month = 3 + ((L + 40)/44)
    Easter Day = L + 28 – 31 * (Easter Month/4)

  15. Sebastian says:

    Does that always guarantee it’s after Passover?

  16. Ya know, I’m not sure really… the calculation is somehow tied to the calculation of when Passover is, but frankly, I haven’t spent enough time looking into it to understand it fully.

    I just look at my calendar to see when it says “Holy Pascha”.

  17. Clint says:

    Sebastian: “Recurring anti-Christian agenda? Where?”

    I was not really going to revisit the issue, but since you ask:

    “In a move bound to make me hate the religious voters in the Republican Party more than I already do…”

    Award for Best Blog Christmas Greeting

    Those were two that stuck out in my mind. I have no desire to continue any parlez on this matter. I appreciate your quick apology and your willingness to allow those of opposing views express their concerns.

  18. Sebastian says:

    Clint, the first one is a legitimate disagreement with religious voters, not religion bashing. The second one, what caught my eye was:

    This year, I think we can all agree to remember what the Christmas season is really about: Executing a daring and risky surprise attack against some cocky Hessians and blowing them the hell away, resulting in a massive propaganda victory, thus setting the stage for the defeat of a major superpower by a motley crew of philosopher nerds and gun nuts, resulting in the longest-lasting legitimate representational government in human history.

    Not so much the other stuff he said.

  19. Jym says:

    What’s the matter, guys? You afraid your imaginary friend is going to get all offended because someone disagrees with you?

    As far as Sebastian goes, I’m very disappointed in your apology. This entire incident is like a rated PG version of newspapers pulling Mohammed cartoons because of a few irrational idiot Islamists getting all offended about it. As soon as a couple of religious extremists start whining, you backed off for fear of losing some precious web traffic. How brave.

    All of you involved should be ashamed of yourselves.

  20. Ahab says:

    My imaginary friend can kick your imaginary friend’s ASS. Expecially if you don’t have an imaginary friend, because then I win by default.

  21. Jym says:

    My imaginary friend is the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

    When I die and go to heaven, I’m getting stripper factories and beer volcanoes. Take that, Christians!

  22. Ahab says:

    I checked the Secret Team Jesus By-Laws that all True Believers get a copy of, it says instead of eternity with My Lord, I could also have Eternity Watching The Sox Win Game 7 of the World Series from the 3rd Base Line in Fenway Park.

    I’ll take the baseball!

  23. Bitter says:

    Thank you, Jym! I personally was offended by this:

    It’s okay, really. Jesus warned us that the world would hate us. I am grateful that the Founders saw fit to not only include the Second Amendment, but the Establishment Clause in the First as well. You are a wonderful advocate for the parts of the Bill of Rights that suit your needs. Others of us will defend the document and the philosophy that inspired it as a whole.

    Accusing Sebastian of somehow keeping people from practicing their religion of choice (implied by the statement that he’s anti-anything other than the Second Amendment) is absolutely asinine. I hate to tell you, but the Bill of Rights only protects you from the government actually getting in the way of your choice of beliefs, it doesn’t protect you from disagreement/jokes/hurt feelings caused by the statements of individuals. To say he’s against the First Amendment because you were offended by something that clearly didn’t offend a majority of people is a sign you’re just looking to be a victim. Hell, look at the opening sentence and it indicates that.

    I thought this blog stood for freedom of thought and speech (that damn First Amendment again!) and wouldn’t run to cater to everyone in order to be shielded from such petty arguments. It’s one thing to disagree on the history or origins, but to bend over to avoid baseless and irrational accusations, that’s sad. :P

    Are you going to apologize to me, Sebastian? :)

  24. Sailorcurt says:

    I wasn’t going to chime in about this because I really wasn’t offended by the original post. I didn’t think it especially funny, but not especially offensive either.

    I would submit that someone secure in their faith has no reason to be offended or angered at anything that someone who doesn’t believe says. We should pity the non-believers, not be angered by them.

    With that said, however, is there a greater purpose served by belittling the beliefs of those who would otherwise consider you a friend? I can only speak for myself, but had Sebastian’s post or Jym’s ridiculous comment appeared in any number of other venues, I would have just dismissed it out of hand as nothing more than attempt to stir up controversy.

    When people whom you respect display so much patent disrespect and disdain for your beliefs, it can be a bit disillusioning.

    Jym, you don’t have to believe what I believe, that’s your choice. You can think I’m a complete idiot for believing what I believe, also your choice…but is it absolutely necessary for you to be an ass about it? What have I ever done to you? Ultimately, that’s your choice too, but it’s not a great way to win friends and influence people IMHO.

    As far as Sebastian’s original post. Sure it was “just a joke”, but it was a joke that strikes to the heart of the most sacred event in the most core beliefs of (statistically speaking) about 75% of your readers.

    Some people are going to take it for what it was worth: nothing. But everyone has their buttons so you’d have to expect that at least a couple of those 75% of your readers are going to have their buttons pushed by ridiculing their core beliefs…even in as minor a way as you perceived your little jab to be.

    If that’s OK with you…then joke away; but don’t act all surprised when a few of your readers take offense.

    And to the people who equated Clint and Rustmeister et. al. expressing their annoyance (in very mild, civil terms if you ask me) over Sebastian’s joke with the riots and car burnings and murders associated with “insulting islam”…I really thought that people on this side of the political spectrum were better than that. I guess this is just an event for disappointments all the way around.

  25. Bitter says:

    Ahab, I have a question: Will there be the riots in heaven like in Boston? I don’t know how it could really be a New England sporting event unless there’s some rioting – win or lose.

  26. Dave thA says:

    “I would submit that someone secure in their faith has no reason to be offended or angered at anything that someone who doesn’t believe says. We should pity the non-believers, not be angered by them.”

    That’s the big difference. We Christians believe that non-believers should be prayed for, not preyed on.

    And knowing that, is why people feel secure in Christ-bashing, but wouldn’t do the same to other religions.

    But accepting Christ does not mean that you have to have your sense of humor removed.

    Besides, it’s a blessing to be attacked for your faith.

    And I don’t celebrate Easter, but what happened. The date and the name of it are inconsequential.

    Happy Easter!

  27. Boyd says:

    I say this, as a Southern Baptist son of a Southern Baptist pastor and brother of a Southern Baptist former missionary now-pastor, and I’m strong in my faith, and a sinner and weak in the flesh (as my ensuing comment will prove):

    Some of you folks are barking moonbat lunatics. Get over yourselves. Victimology doesn’t become you any better than it does the communist idiots who have refined it to an art form.

    Sheesh.

    (And my sincerest apologies for offending you, but sometimes we need to offend our friends when they’ve gone off the rails. As some of you clearly have.)

  28. I feel it is also worth noting that nothing Sebastian said was technically wrong. The modern, western incarnation of “Easter” is damn close to paganism (worshiping at the altar of the great chocolate bunny and idol, with sacrificial offerings of pastel eggs.) Most of the “Easter” traditions held so dear by western “Christians” really have closer roots to paganism than to the resurrection of the Son of God. It may be offensive to some people. Deal with it. If you are honestly concerned about what Sebastian said regarding Easter, go pick up a bible and tell me where the word “easter” is used… tell me where Jesus brought baskets full of candy to his disciples… tell me where the Apostles wrote approvingly about spring fertility festivals…

    So to Christians who are disappointed in what Sebastian says… deal with it, and consider re-evaluating your own life. And to the atheists who don’t like what the Christians are saying, realize that not all of us are the evangelical/southern-baptist/hellfire-and-brimstone types who vote for whatever “socially conservative” tyranny the GOP is pushing in-the-name-of-God.

  29. Dave thA: “But accepting Christ does not mean that you have to have your sense of humor removed.”
    –probably one of the best, and most true comments thus far!

  30. Lysander says:

    “UPDATE: Apologies to atheist readers who are disappointed at my attempt at reconciliation with my Christian readers who were offended by the original post. Perhaps someday the People’s Front of Judea, and the Judaean People’s Front will be able to live side by side in harmony.”

    Now THIS is funny. And I say that as an unofficial representative of the Neo-Reformed Orthodox wing of the Judean People’s Popular Front. Those other two groups are noobs.

    “Regarding the computation of the date of Pascha… and since I’m a complete nerd, here’s the algorithm used by the Orthodox church:”
    That’s either part of the calculation I used, or I used something very similar. The Orthodox (Eastern or Greek) aren’t, to my knowledge, that concerned with whether Yom Kippur is on a certain day or not. (Some more explanation at http://quasar.as.utexas.edu/BillInfo/ReligiousCalendars.html )

    Joe – Only in America. The Europeans always got riled up about that one. ;)

    Jym: lighten up.

  31. Bitter says:

    Boyd, you made me laugh out loud. It was even funnier since I was raised Southern Baptist. I “reformed” and went Methodist.

    I remember when some old women were upset that one day I wore a sundress with spaghetti straps to the Baptist church. Of course, the funny part of this was that I actually had a jacket on over them so no one could see. But the fact that they existed at all seemed to offend. Meanwhile at the Methodist church, I’d wear crazy platform heels and the old women would come up and say how cute it was that I was wearing retro versions of what they wore back in the 40s and 50s.

  32. Carl in Chicago says:

    Well, I was raised Mennonite, and have only little to add to this conversation. It’s some selected quotes from a story script, to which Sebastian eluded to already:

    BRIAN: Are you the Judean People’s Front?
    REG: F*** off! … Judean People’s Front. We’re the People’s Front of Judea! Judean People’s Front.
    BRIAN: Can I… join your group?
    REG: No. P*** off. … Listen. If you really wanted to join the P.F.J., you’d have to really hate the Romans.
    BRIAN: I do!
    REG: Oh, yeah? How much?
    BRIAN: A lot!
    REG: Right. You’re in. Listen. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the f***ing Judean People’s Front.
    FRANCIS: And the Judean Popular People’s Front.
    P.F.J.: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Splitters. Splitters…
    LORETTA: And the People’s Front of Judea.
    P.F.J.: Yeah. Splitters. Splitters…
    REG: What?
    LORETTA: The People’s Front of Judea. Splitters.
    REG: We’re the People’s Front of Judea!
    LORETTA: Oh. I thought we were the Popular Front.

  33. Ahab says:

    Ahab, I have a question: Will there be the riots in heaven like in Boston?

    Like you said, wouldn’t be New England sports without riots. I presume that Heaven will have a special “Sox Fans” section. Interestingly enough, the “Sox Fan” section of Heaven gets double use as Hell for Yankees fans.

  34. Jym says:

    Sailorcurt: You say they expressed their annoyance in mild, civil terms. Clint called Sebastian an enemy of the First Amendment, despite the fact that he nowhere in his post called for any sort of government banning of Easter or anything of the like. That was pretty much an outright insult. Rusty called it “stupid.” Again, pretty much an outright insult. Sebastian said nothing factually wrong. Like it or not, your sacred holiday really is just borrowed from those people you call heathens and pagans. So, I have to ask you, who here is REALLY being the ass when people are getting up in arms about Sebastian just pointing out the factual basis for Easter?

  35. Jym says:

    Lysander: Considering I’m using the Flying Spaghetti Monster as ammunition in this debate, I’m not sure how much more light I can get. :)

  36. RedneckInNY says:

    If Easter is based on a Lunar calendar, then it would positively make it a Chinese holiday, as the Chinese calendar is lunar based. Damn those Chinese…they got their greasy little yellow hands into everything. Hahahahahaa!!! (I can say that because I’m Chinese, or as I like to say, “off-white”) Hahahahahahahahaaa!!!

    Yes people, DO lighten up. Maude, better start puttin’ starch in them people’s britches when ya washes them so they can’t get them in a twist!!!

    :::ducking:::

  37. RAH says:

    I saw the Easter post. Really just a wish for people to enjoy the day. What struck me about the post was the realization that a lunar calender is used and that Easter is always having a full moon. For someone that has lived awhile I thought this realization was a bit late.

    Easter has a lot of other traditions associated with it. Ferility rtuals of Britain and other cultures. Early Christians in order to get other cultures to accept Christianity did adopt a lot of local traditions.

    This is not to insult the resurrection of Jesus which Easter celebrates.

    But really these contentions about a silly post is ridiculous. I saw no insult in the post so people really need to chill.

  38. Bitter–you ought to see women in Baptist churches down South. It is the majority denomination from the South to the Southwest, and the culture is quite mainstream, even strapless dresses!

    And, I have seen miniskirts in Baptist churches down here that kept me very occupied during some dull sermons.

    I suppose it’s where you live and what segment of Baptist one is speaking of.

  39. Sailorcurt says:

    You say they expressed their annoyance in mild, civil terms.

    You forgot the “if you ask me” part at the end…

    That’s called an opinion. You disagree. Noted.

    I’ll try not to lose any sleep over it tonight.

  40. Jym, as much as I think this thread should probably just end, I just can’t help but mention that your comment “your sacred holiday really is just borrowed from those people you call heathens and pagans” is factually incorrect. Some of the traditions in the western church may be borrowed from pagans, but the holiday itself has never had anything to do with pagan traditions.

  41. Jym says:

    Gregory, every bit of the Jesus “death and resurrection” myth, as well as every modern Easter tradition, can be directly traced back to pagan traditions which predate or at least coincide with the rise of Christianity.

    The name Easter was given to the holiday when its celebration was declared several hundred years after Christ. The celebration was named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, Eostre. More important that the etymology, though, are the copycat myths and traditions.

    During their captivity in Babylonia, the ancient Hebrews probably picked up on the myth of Tammuz, who died and was reborn annually. Jesus’ descent into hell is reminiscent of Ishtar’s journey into the underworld. Then there is Osiris, the Egyptian god who was judge of the dead and also happened to die and be resurrected. Again, it’s likely that the Hebrews picked up the Osiris story while enslaved in Egypt. I will mention Attis as well, although the most incriminating bits of that legend are up for scholarly debate.

    If the Christian god wanted people to take him seriously, why did he make his plan of redemption so similar to the myths of other religions?

    As for the more modern traditions surrounding the celebration of Easter, rabbits and eggs are obvious fertility symbols and the tradition of leaving baskets of candy out for children is probably borrowed from the Celtic tradition of leaving out food for faeries at the equinox, lest they wreak havoc during the coming season (kind of says something about how most people view their kids.)

  42. Jym, I’m aware of the similarities. I’m sure if you look hard enough, you can find astonishing similarities between certain Judeo-Christian and Aztec beliefs, but that doesn’t prove a relationship. I’m not saying it didn’t happen in some cases, just that your “proof” is as faith-based as mine.

    The term “Easter” is, as you say, a pagan anglo term. It is rejected by the eastern Orthodox Church, which was (although you can argue with Catholics about this) the original Church. When Pascha was first celebrated, the term “Easter” didn’t exist… it was only called Pascha, which is derived from the Greek word for Jewish Passover (since Pascha is seen by the church as the New Testament replacement of the Jewish passover.)

    While I agree that many of the traditions were used as a way to make pagans feel more comfortable with what the Christian church was offering, the pagan-rooted “Easter” traditions followed in the west are rejected by the eastern Orthodox Church. My point is that the western churches have no problem with pagan roots, while the Orthodox Church has always fought against allowing these facets of paganism into paschal worship.

    Oh, and just FYI, “Easter Eggs” come from a tradition involving Mary Magdalene, and have nothing to do with “fertility” as is often assumed, but rather “rebirth”, which is a fundamental concept in the Christian faith. The occasional correlation of eggs and fertility in western “Easter” celebration comes after-the-fact.

    On a completely different note, if I were Sebastian, I would have disabled comments on this post a long time ago. This is supposed to be a gun blog, not a debate religion! Why do you allow trouble-making trolls like Jym and me on here anyway? Heheh.

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