Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter: Another Catholic Rip-off of a Pagan Holiday

OK, just what the heck does a bunny hopping down the bunny-trail, hiding colored hard-boiled eggs, have to do with the death and resurrection of a 1st century Jewish itinerant rabbi? (no, a rabbit and a rabbi aren't the same critter!  Jeesh!  Didn't you ever watch any Bugs Bunny when you were a kid?)  What about Easter Egg Rolls on the White House Lawn?  What's the deal with ham, lamb, duck and other tasty critters at Easter dinner?  Where do marshmallow Peeps come into the picture? When did this straightforward holiday (a guy gets horribly executed, dies, descends into Hell, rises, is seated at the Right Hand of God, and will come back later and judge everyone who has ever lived) get so complicated?

First it was the ADA complaining about all the sugar in chocolate bunnies;
now it's parents who won't let their kids talk to giant rabbits.  Sigh!
Like most things, it all starts at the Dawn of Time (about 5:27 am EST on April 1, 100,003 BCE [which stands for Before Crap Existed]).  For some reason, men and women like having sex and like having babies (men mostly --the closest most men get to having the 'baby experience' is having too much fiber in their diet).  They liked it so much in prehistoric times that they made little clay figurines of big, fat, healthy, pregnant ladies as a kind of votive offering to whatever force in the universe helped people to have a baby of their own.  You see, the human reproductive system is a bit of a mess.  Women aren't fertile all the time, and when they are, they don't really advertise it the way sensible animals do, with displays like swollen, red genitals, random sprays of  sex-hormones, or nicely hand-lettered signs saying "Let's boink!"  Which explains why men are horny all the time --they've literally got a 1-minute window to release the swimmers into the right gal, or humanity goes extinct.

There it is! I told you guys I had a map!
Over the years, female fertility became a matter of concern because scads of people were dying (they didn't know it was because they were drinking from the same river they pooped in), so fertility cults became all the rage.  And what's not to like about a cult that advocates lots of sex, followed by lots of babies?  The Greeks, Romans, Persians, Indians, Chinese, Mayan and Inca all had a fertility goddess of some description (the prettiest? Roman Venus, of course ;-))  And that's where things stood (lay?) when Jesus of Nazareth was crucified by the Roman Procuator of Palestine, Pontius Pilot, sometime around 35 CE (which stands for Crap Exists!)  We're not really sure of the year, because the four Gospels are a little fuzzy on details like dates; we do know it happened during Passover Week in Jerusalem.

"Always look on the bright side of life!" whistling...
Meanwhile, back in Rome, the people were probably celebrating the mystery cult of Cybele, a major fertility goddess whose main shrine was on top of Vatican Hill.  She had a lover/husband/consort/pimp-Daddy named Attis who's big claim to fame was dying in a blood-bath on the first Friday after the spring equinox and being reborn the following Sunday.  Sound familiar?  So, when Christianity made it to Rome from the provinces, Roman Christians celebrated Jesus' resurrection at the same time.  They must have figured hey, there's already a party going on --we'll just have our little get-together and nobody will notice (wrong - the Romans regularly used Christians as wild animal food in the Colosseum).

Nice kitty! Damnit, which one of you is wearing that catnip cologne?
Christianity survived Rome somehow (they steered clear of the Suburna at night) and took its act on the road, where it promptly bumped into several Germanic and Gallic fertility cults similar to Cybele's.  One was the Saxon cult of Eostre (who some people pronounced as Eastre), the Saxon mother-goddess extraordinaire.  Her big festival was right around the time that Roman Christians celebrated the Resurrection, so the early Church fathers simply hijacked the party and substituted Jesus for Eastre.  It was that simple. And because people weren't as sharp then as they are now, it was a long time before anybody noticed the switcheroo and by then, people had already started wearing cute little crucifixes on chains around their necks and going to Mass and all that, so they just kept Jesus and forgot about... what's-her-name.
It's Eastre, you dipshit.  Try and have a baby now, lol!

Not all of Saxon-Mommy's influence was stamped-out by the early Church, however.  The rabbit was one of her sacred animals, because everybody knows that rabbits breed like... well, rabbits (hey, she is a fertility goddess).  Bird eggs were also sacred to Eastre because of the life they contained within the shell (unless you like yours scrambled), so during her festival, parents would dye eggs pretty colors using berries or plants like woad and hide them around the village for children to find.

Easter's pagan origins were such an open secret that those no-nonsense-tolerated types, the English Puritans, forbade any Easter celebrations in England and where they had settled in America.  To be fair, Easter celebrations in England had gotten a bit out of hand by the time of the Elizabethan Age (what the exact age was, nobody ever knew because Liz always lied about her age.  And wore a wig), so much so that it resembled a whole village of Yorkshiremen staggering around blind-drunk and vomiting wherever they could and however much they had just drunk.

Being a Puritan is way more fun than Easter egg hunts.
Ok ok, being a Puritan blows.

Celebrating Easter in America didn't even really catch on until after the Civil War in the 1870's.  My guess is that the Civil War, with its 600,003 dead made the collective American mind snap, opening it to a flood of longing for the departed and a fervent belief in the Resurrected Christ as a way to cope with all the sadness of war.  So, while ministers and priests dusted-off their Bibles and put the finishing touches on their Easter sermons (sermen? sermans?), American people were bugging really old people for stories of how folks back home in England used to celebrate before Oliver Cromwell kicked the seven shades of shite out of someone for having the gall to celebrate such pagan deviltry.

But since Americans are Americans (our ancestors were tossed out of every decent country in the world), they kept the serious God-'n-Jesus stuff at the church and centered the fun holiday stuff around children, who are the perfect symbols of fertility if you stop and think about it.  Now all that was needed was to add a dash of chocolate, and the Americans had a perfect holiday.

I want to close this blog by saying that I totally buy the whole death-and-resurrection bit, because without it, Jesus would just have been some ordinary Jewish preacher who got the shaft (of the centurion's spear in His side, along with a crown of thorns, a cross and a vinegar-soaked sponge to suck on while He died [those Roman douchebags!]).  I believed He died for our sins and that He will come back one day when we least expect it.  I have to believe this, because otherwise, it's such a poorly written story that nobody would believe in Jesus and we'd all be stuck worshipping some crazy forest lady who had too many rabbits and a thing for eggs (see above).  Much mischief has been done in Jesus' name, but more good things have been done as well.  That makes JC OK in my book.  Happy Easter!

Yo, back atcha, Adjunct Proff buddy!  You da bomb!

1 comment:

  1. "Buddy Christ" appears courtesy of that hilarious movie, "Dogma."