When did Christians Claim Easter?
Easter is a pretty big deal. A couple weeks back, we talked about Easter’s pagan roots (POST: The Symbols of Easter), which begs the question, when did Easter become a Christian Holiday?
It’s easy to see the dominance of Christianity in the West today and see it as a faith that was always dominant, but the Roman Empire before Constantine actively persecuted Christians as Christianity spread through the Roman Empire.
The persecution of Christians ended when the emperor, Constantine, took power and Christianity started to transition being the dominant religion in the Roman Empire. His mother, Helena, had been a devout Christian, and symbolically, Constantine and the Eastern Emperor, Licinius, issued the Edict of Milan, where Constantine declared himself a Christian, and where Constantine wrote to Christians that he owed his success to God alone.
Following Constantine’s conversion to Christianity there were many councils of religious leaders to truly define and in a since standardize what Christianity was and what it stood for.
One of these Councils was the First Council of Nicaea in 314 A.D.
This is when Easter became a Christian celebration.
The council ordered that “the great event of the year was the Easter season. The period immediately before was one of fasting in commemoration of Christ’s sufferings. Customs differed in various parts of the empire.
Since then, Easter has become a day to remember and honor the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Random fact: Saint Nicolas (the inspiration of the Santa figure) was at the Council of Nicaea also, and it is said he even punched someone.
As Christianity spread so did the association of Easter, which was once a pagan holiday. And nowadays Easter is synonymous with Jesus’ death burial and resurrection.
Sure, Easter has been commercialized, but just as God is in the business of transformation. We as parents of the next generation must have a commitment to truth and a legacy of being authentic and willing to answer hard questions to be a light to the next generation.
Reclaim Easter with me in checking out my book “An Easter Bunny’s Tale”.