I sent out a (rather belated) call for one of my Christian friends to write to us about Easter, and Jerri was kind enough to share her experiences of the holiday. Enjoy!
Easter has passed, but Daniella invited me to write a post on Easter and my experience of it, and so I’m delivering despite its belatedness. A few things about me:
My name is Jerri, and I’m American. More specifically I’m first generation Chinese-American. I’m also Christian (the only one other than my grandmother in my family), protestant to be exact, and of no particular denomination. I’m a girl (in the case you think I’m a boy based on my name, which has happened before). I’m also a friend of Daniella, and I “met” her years ago in an online writing community when we were both teenagers.
To start off, I was born in the year of the Rabbit, according to the Chinese Zodiac, which assigns a specific animal to each year in a twelve year cycle. What does this have to do with Easter? Absolutely nothing. Well…sort of.
When we finally moved to the suburbs, to a “city” so small it was technically a village, I had my first taste of this holiday called “Easter.” It began in the toy section of a store with the emergence of pastel colored lagomorphs neatly lined up on the shelves. My parents bought me one, because what could be better than a pink bunny for a girl born in the year of the rabbit? There was also the neighborhood Easter egg hunt at the park where sugar crazed children ran around in search of colorful plastic eggs that contained candy inside. I was always too slow to get the best ones with the better candy.
This was how I became acquainted with Easter. It was a commercialized holiday about rabbits, and candy. And for a girl whose identity was partly (jokingly) attached to that of a rabbit, I was thrilled. It never had a set date, but it always landed on Sunday. Nevertheless, who wouldn’t love a holiday about rabbits and candy?
There’s a lot that’s been said about the pagan origins of the Easter Bunny, a mythical cuddly figure who doles out decorated eggs, a leftover relic from a fertility goddess that refused to hop away and became culturally embedded among German Lutherans. It’s gotten to the point where even though Easter Egg hunts are a common activity during Easter, some churches choose not to hold them.
But Easter wasn’t about rabbits and candy, just like Christmas wasn’t about Santa Clause and gifts. I wouldn’t learn that later until I became Christian.
For Christians, as I’m sure you know since you’re one, Easter is the celebration Jesus’ resurrection, which along with Jesus dying for humanity’s sins, is central to the Christian faith. But Easter is also the culmination of a dark series of events beginning with Jesus’s betrayal by one of his disciples, and ending with him dying as he hangs there crying “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Easter cannot exist on its own without understanding the elements of abandonment, disappointment, betrayal, and our own brokenness in that story. This is why many Christians also commemorate Good Friday leading up to Easter, which focuses on the crucifixion of Jesus.
The resurrection is seen as God’s redemption, God’s victory over sin. It is the restoration of God’s relationship with people, or rather, the opportunity of it. The common passages read out loud during an Easter Sunday service tells the story of the women who had previously been following Jesus going to the tomb and discovering that it is empty. The women then go to tell the disciples (the guys who followed him until he got arrested and then abandoned him and denied that they ever followed him) about the news, but they don’t believe them. They do later, but only after Jesus appear to them.
It’s interesting to note that women were the first to be informed considering the fact that a woman’s testimony wasn’t worth as much as a man’s back then. In my early twenties, I would come to find comfort in that, but that’s another story.
Easter is a celebration of hope, and when the narrative supposedly ends with death, God ultimately has the last laugh. There’s a call and response done during Easter called the Paschal Greeting, in which someone goes:
“He is risen!”
and the others respond back
“He is risen indeed!”
That said, I still like my bunnies and candy.
Have something to share about your own religion or culture? Send a guest letter to Josep!