Tag Archives: Easter

The history of Easter: A basketful of illuminating articles


Belarusian Easter Eggs

Belarusian Easter eggs

Next time a friend or family member asks you (because you clearly are an erudite person, since you read this blog!), “Was Easter originally a pagan holiday?” or “Why eggs and bunnies?” or any other question about the history of Easter and Holy Week, you can point them toward these articles written by the editors of Christian History magazine:

How the Fast of Lent Gave Us Easter Eggs
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Simon of Cyrene all appear in legends about eggs turning red.

Was Easter Borrowed from a Pagan Holiday?
The historical evidence contradicts this popular notion. Continue reading

The goodness of Good Friday: The oxymoron of an unhappy celebration


c. 1632

"Christ on the Cross," Diego Velazquez, c. 1632

Since the day is fast approaching–Good Friday, that is–I thought readers might appreciate this brief Christian History article I wrote on the subject:

What a supreme paradox. We now call the day Jesus was crucified, Good.

Many believe this name simply evolved—as language does. They point to the earlier designation, “God’s Friday,” as its root. (This seems a reasonable conjecture, given that “goodbye” evolved from “God be with you.”)

Whatever its origin, the current name of this holy day offers a fitting lesson to those of us who assume (as is easy to do) that “good” must mean “happy.” We find it hard to imagine a day marked by sadness as a good day. Continue reading

“Satan was as fit as I”: The Easter week conversion of Charles Simeon


In my dissolute youth, Holy Week was a time of particularly acute conviction. Now, it has become a time of joy. But thinking back to those misspent teen years, I’m reminded of the conversion story of Charles Simeon, the 19th-century fellow of Cambridge (King’s College) and rector of Holy Trinity Church. Simeon was also young, just 21, and his conversion came during a similarly acute Holy-Week season of conviction, triggered by a summons to his first communion service at Cambridge. I tell the story in my Patron Saints for Postmoderns:

Satan Was as Fit as I

As for Simeon himself, nothing in his upbringing had instilled any real
faith in him by that tender age of twenty-one. Nonetheless, when he
received the official summons to his first communion service on a cold
winter day, three days after arriving at Cambridge, he entered “a state
of spiritual panic.” Looking within himself, he concluded that “Satan
himself was as fit to attend [the sacrament] as I.” He bought a stern
book titled The Whole Duty of Man, because it was the only religious
book he had heard of, and under its prescriptions he proceeded to
read, fast and pray himself into physical illness. For all that effort, he
still went to his first communion unrelieved from his acute sense of
unworthiness and fear.

Nor did his struggle end there, for he knew he must receive the sacrament
again on Easter Sunday. Continue reading