I’ve never been into Spring. In fact, were I too rank order the seasons, Spring would fall dead last. It probably has something to do with my personality, but I’d choose Fall, Summer, Winter, and the Spring.
As such I’ve never particularly paid attention to the Easter celebration. It’s never played a large cultural role growing up. What I’ve found interesting lately though is the themes Easter presents. I’ll pick out just a few here that have been on my mind.
Eggs: These are the very symbol of fertility, birth, new life, rebirth, and light over darkness. Actually, the entire Spring environment is one of waking and starting fresh. It’s actually a very powerful metaphor and understandable why so many gravitate towards it. Whether it’s represented by pagan fertility gods, or the Holy Son’s return from death, or the Holy Sun even rising in the east higher and higher each day, it’s no wonder eggs are used in decorative symbolic gestures to all good things to come.
Then we have that rabbit. Hopping around in peoples homes while they sleep, hiding eggs probably snatched from the hen house. The Easter Hare and hare’s of lore are synonymous with virality, fertility, survival, tenderness and tenacity. And don’t forget the moon. The rabbit since antiquity has been associated with lunar prophesies and story. All of a sudden it makes sense why the rabbit travels with eggs at night, depositing eggs for the sun to shine on. It’s a lunar yin to the suns yang and their eternal cosmic confluence over the forces of evil.
Those are the two big players to sort out first. But what about the ham? How in the world did we come to feast on delicious ham on Easter? Well, because that’s what was left in the larder after a long, cold, dark, winter. You see, the lamb is a powerful symbol again for spring fertility and rebirth. However, practically speaking, lambs are born in the Spring along with the rest of the woodland and homestead creatures. To eat a lamb in the Spring is to barely provide a meal. While it could have some sacrificial significance, it makes much more sense to allow that lamb to grow through the seasons. Unfortunately lamb is super lean and does not last through the winter unless it is frozen. Pork, on the other hand due to it’s wonderful fat, can be cured and smoked and preserved through the winter. As such, it’s more likely we’d enjoy a large feast of cured pork since there is so much more meat to go around. Perhaps its a form of Spring cleaning, eating up all the old leftovers in celebration of making way for the new stock.
I may have to rethink this whole Spring and Easter business. I do love springtime piglets and chicks and now have a whole new level of appreciation for our holidays.
All the best,
Randy and Nate