The term Easter is derived from the Saxon word, “Oster,” to rise, this being the day of Christ rising from the dead.
Other scholars, too, maintain that Easter Day, considered in many countries as the Queen of Christian festivals, takes its name from “Eoster” or “Easter,” a Saxon goddess whose religious rites were celebrated in the beginning of spring.
But all are in agreement that the Saxon Easter or Eoster have long come from the same long-forgotten original, perhaps Phoenician, word signifying “fire.”
In ancient England before, it was the custom to snuff out all the fires and re-light them on Easter-Even, from consecrated flints preserved in churches specially for said purpose. It was the unwavering belief that the flint signified Christ and the fire, the Holy Ghost.
Metaphorically considered, such belief is seen as “just” and “beautiful,” for it was held by past, and still is, by present scholars on Easter celebration that, “Earth laughed and sang,” on account of the glory of Resurrection, and “the sun danced with joy” – the natural rising of the sun being, as it were, typical of the rising of the “Sun of the Righteousness” from the darkness of the grave.
Pontius Meropius Anicius Paulinus, Roman poet, writer and senator and before he died on June, Year 431, talked about this celestial demonstration of Easter offering of flowers and wrote in a poem:
“Sing praises to your God, ye youths, and pay your holy vows,
The floor with many flowers strew, the threshold binds with bows;
Let winter breath a fragrance forth, like as the purple Spring;
Let the young year, before the time, its floral treasures bring
And Nature yield, to this Great Day, herself an offering.”
In addition to the use of flowers, our forebears symbolized the cardinal doctrine of Christian faith during Easter through holiday sports and past time.
In Easter School, in Guisad, Baguio City, founded in 1906, and named after Easter Day, the school had a long-held tradition of holding, during Easter Day, friendly and competitive sports during the past years. It was a time for rejuvenation among mentors and students alike, with the “Sun of the Righteousness,” or the “Son of the Righteousness.”
Students from other provinces in Cordillera often congregated at Easter School for a day or more of athletic competition.
It was during those Easter athletic competitions that Easter School was renowned in the region for producing high caliber little league, softball and baseball players that competed nationally in Laruang Pambansa series.
One of the most curious and popular activity during Easter and still in vogue today in every Anglican church in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is the “egg-hunting,” a custom which prevailed in the olden times.
These eggs, often unpainted or painted in various colors are hidden in every nook and cranny of the church grounds which, after mass, the anticipating children will be signaled to search for them.
Among the Anglican congregation, there is this held wisdom of,” Eggs still continue to form part of the ceremonies of Easter Day. And there also, presents of eggs, from individual to the another, are considered as pious attentions.”
This observance appears to have arisen from a belief that eggs were an emblem of the Resurrection.
Pope Paul V, who was Bishop of Rome from 1605 until his death in 1621, wrote a prayer about consecration of Easter eggs: Bless, O, Lord, we beseech thee, this thy creature of eggs, that it may become a wholesome sustenance to thy faithful servants, eating it in thy thankfulness of thee, on the account of the Resurrection of our Lord.”
In the rural areas in the Cordillera, bachelors and married men who chance to meet ladies along the way during Easter Day would happily say, “I pray you, good dame, an Easter egg!”
One may still find today, when visiting homes of friends and acquaintances of eggs painted in various colors and displayed on dining tables. These eggs quietly greet us with the most ancient of Easter salutations and retained in all churches which says simply, “Christ is risen!”
That Christ has risen – not for himself, but for the very life of every individual – has only proven that there is life in the afterlife – whether you’re a believer or unbeliever of Easter chimes.
The social Easter chimes of life has, at least, the merit of interesting both the young and the old in the Cordillera hinterlands which increasing years do not easily erase that Easter signals new life, beckoning.
Such life brings to mind the very hilarious story of Rhonda Bosaing, a lively lady from Sagada, Mountain Province, about a Filipino who was extra-conscious about his life and pestered his Japanese doctor about prolonging it. It happened this way:
Fil.: “Doc, I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is that true?”
Jap Doc: “Bah! Heart only good for so many beats. Don’t waste time on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up hear not make you live longer. It’s like saying you extend life of a car by driving faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.”
Fil.: “Should I reduce my alcohol intake?”
Jap Doc: Ah, no! No! Wine made from fruit. Fruit very good. Brandy distilled wine, that means they take out water of fruity bit so you can get even more of goodness that way. Beer also made of grain. Grain, good, too. So, bottoms up!”
Fil.: “What are the advantages of participating in an exercise program?”
Jap Doc: “Can’t think of any. Sorry. My philosophy: Not to strain yourself is very good.”
Fil.: “Are fried foods bad for life?”
Jap Doc: “You, not listening! Food fried in vegetable oil; how getting more vegetable be bad?”
Fil.: “Is chocolate bad?”
Jap Doc: “You crazy? Cocoa bean; another vegetable.”
Fil.: “Is swimming good for the figure?”
Jap Doc: “If swimming good for the figure, explain whale to me.”
Fil.: “Is getting in shape important in my life?”
Jap Doc: “Hey, round is also a shape. I hope these have cleared misconceptions you may have about exercise, food and drink.”
And the Jap Doc added, “Look, mister, life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved physique. But rather to skin in, sideways, beer in one hand, chocolate in the other and you screaming, WOOO HOOOO! What a ride my life was!”
The Jap Doc further said, “Eat whatever you like. Don’t allow motivational speakers to deceive you. Remember, inventor of the treadmill died at age 54; inventor of gymnastics died at 57; the world body-building champion died at age 41 and, Maradona, the world’s best footballer, died at age 60.”
Then the Jap doctor further informed his Filipino client: “Remember, the inventor of fried chicken died at age 94; the inventor of Nutella brand died at 88 and the inventor of Hennessey died at 98.”
The Jap doctor patted the arm of his client and whispered in his ear, “Exercise prolongs life? But the rabbit keeps jumping up and down and only lives for two years while the turtle doesn’t exercise at all and live for 100 years or more.”
As his client started to leave, the Jap doctor assured him, “Take some rest. Stay cool! Eat, drink and enjoy your life. You will still die!”
This Easter, this column hopes we stay united and wish for the nation’s well-being, cooperate with authorities and not be pasaway. It’s not that so much to do, is it? For we rise with the Easter chimes.