Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Easter traditions and common values

As Easter approaches, let us take a look at the symbolism behind the traditions as we celebrate and let us see how painting eggs, eating chocolate rabbits and going on an egg-hunt around the garden are proof of eternal and common supra-Continental human values which transcend time and space.

Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies, the ubiquitous children's dream at Easter time... from the end of the nineteenth century, brought to the UK and the USA by German immigrants. And indeed the Goddess of Fertility and Spring - Eastre, makes her presence on the world stage, springing from pre-Christian Pagan fertility festivities, depicted in rock engravings holding a rabbit (fertility) and an egg (eternity, no beginning and no end).

It is a time of Resurrection, the restarting of the cycle of agriculture, of life, a time of sowing, a time of planting and a time of celebration that the Winter Spirit of death (symbolic death of the agricultural cycle) has departed. The Fertility Festival is the antithesis of the first Festival of Light, Hallowe'en, the end of the agricultural cycle and the coming of darkness.

And for those Europeans who say that Hallowe'en is a "stupid American festival" here is the rub. To be an American Festival, it either had to be born the other side of the Atlantic or else was taken there by Europeans, who since dropped the customs and had them re-introduced centuries later. In fact, Hallowe'en comes from "evening" before the Saints (who wear halos round their heads) and was the mark by which time the agricultural chores had to be finished. It was a tremendously important festival in Medieval Europe.

The symbolic burning of scarecrows abounds in different parts of Europe either at Hallowe'en (the "Guy" in the UK), during the Festivals of Light throughout Winter (Saint Martin's Day in November, not to mention Christmas and New Year and Epiphany) or at Easter.

So these are not German festivities or American festivals, they are Universal rites based around common human values - respect for life, the celebration of resurrection, the eternal cycle of new hopes for a tomorrow bathed in light... however dark the nights may be. This eternal quest to protect and worship life has been present since humankind began communicating through engravings - placing a funeral stone on the breast of the deceased with zigzag lines representing waves or the feathers of the night-Goddess, the Owl (brought by the Moon), also representing waves. Waves are water, water is life.

As we celebrate another Easter, let us tell our (grand)children about the symbolism behind the egg and the rabbit and instill in them the knowledge that other children the world over are celebrating the Resurrection of Life together, whether this be the life of Christ or the rebirth of the agricultural year. The details matter less than the benchmark.

While Humankind should be celebrating Life together, it practises hatred, division, contempt and a primary instinctive drive to mark territory by destroying others. Our world is not at one with Nature, we are destroying it. We celebrate the rebirth of Life, but we kill our environment. We celebrate the Resurrection but we bomb children in Libya and provide weapons to terrorists in Syria. How sick is that?

NATO, the arms lobby's private club and its member states are the main culprits in creating what the world has become: If you are big, you kick as*, if you are small, you get you're a*s kicked.

At the beginning of the Third Millennium (Christian Era), what a sad and sorry comment on how little we have learnt. What a telling statement on how primary we remain. And there, ladies and gentlemen, we have the explanation for all our ills. Humankind is an animal, its sophistication lies just beneath a very thin surface and the laws of the jungle apply more to us than to many animal communities.

I wonder whether Mother Earth is pondering something. I give her my full support if she is.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey