As Easter comes upon us, we have been reflecting on what it means to celebrate Easter in a non-denominational Montessori school, where inclusiveness of all people from all cultures is essential to what we do.
Easter is the most holy day of the Christian calendar, celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the Pagan tradition, the name ‘Easter’ came from celebrations of worship of the goddess Eostre, the goddess of fertility and Spring. In Mesopotamia, like Eostre, the people worshipped Ishtar, also associated with love and fertility.
All of these festivals are associated with equinoxes and the changes in season tied to agriculture. Their origins are clearly tied to the northern hemisphere, given their association with Spring, while we in the Southern hemisphere are experiencing Autumn.
The celebration of springtime fertility and new life explains the two most popular Easter traditions: the Easter bunny and Easter eggs. Rabbits have always been associated with fertility and eggs are a symbol of the life that comes with the arrival of Spring. For Christians, the egg represents the tomb from which Jesus Christ rose to life.
Around the time of Easter, the Jewish people celebrate Passover. Passover celebrates the Biblical story of the survival of the Jewish people during their captivity in Egypt and their rebirth as they escaped slavery for a new life in Israel. There is an egg on the traditional Seder plate, its circular shape symbolising the cycle of life.
Celebrating Easter provides us with an opportunity to learn about different cultures, history and etymology and also allows us to see so clearly that despite the difference between cultures there lies a deep thread of sameness among all people of the Earth. Easter also provides us all with a chance to celebrate birth, life and new beginnings.
Happy Easter to you all and a lovely holiday ahead!