And, ironically, the name for the easter funny images, the Prince of Peace, has been cause for controversy and conflict over the years, and still is today.
There may be a historical connection between the words "Easter" and "East." More commonly held is the idea that the word "Easter" derives from pagan goddesses: Eastre.
As the festival of Eastre was a celebration of the renewal of life in the spring, so the logic goes, it was easy for early Christians to make it a celebration of Christ's resurrection from the dead. And "Eastre" eventually evolved into "Easter."
Some theologians argue that there is no connection at all between the origins of the word Easter and a pagan goddess.
Some American Evangelical Christians consider that Easter itself is "pagan" and consider Easter eggs, ritual foods and even religious observances like Lent as idolatrous and evil. Less extremist sects merely suggest calling the holiday "Resurrection Sunday."
In most European languages, the word for Easter comes from the Hebrew Pesach (Passover), which was the setting for the Easter events. In Latin, Easter is Festa Paschalia (plural because it is a seven-day feast), in French Pâques, in Italian Pasqua, Spanish Pascua, Scottish Pask, Dutch Paschen, Danish Paaske, and in Swedish Pask.
In many Slavic languages,such as Ukrainian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, and others, Easter is called Pascha (pronounced paska). The word Pascha is from the Aramaic (a Hebrew dialect spoken by Christ) for Pesach, or Passover.
In Ukrainian Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic church communities around the world, you will hear Easter referred to as Velykden, which means "Great day. Velykden was also the Ukrainian word used for the spring equinox. Before the arrival of Christianity, at spring equinox (which occurs around March 22), Ukrainians celebrated the sun's defeat of "the unclean spirit."
In recent years some Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox churches have been re-branding Easter and Velykden as Pascha. Some speculate that church hierarchs in traditional Eastern Rite churches may be similarly concerned as American Protestants about the potential ramifications of acknowledging the supposed pagan origins of the word for Easter.
According to a recent poll*, over 50% of children don't know why we celebrate Easter. And with chocolate eggs, bunnies and chicks appearing in the supermarkets from around January onwards, it's really no surprise. Adding to this, many of the Easter songs and activities one encounters in schools are rooted in the popular 'bunnies and chocolates' culture, so it's altogether unsurprising that this special day has lost its meaning amongst much of the younger generation.
Best Christian Songs for Easter
When it comes to young children, the best Christian songs for Easter are those which tell snippets of the Easter story in a way that is modern, relevant and compelling. Primary school children will be able to identify with such songs much more easily than ones that are sombre and archaic. This song has a catchy, uplifting chorus interspersed with more poignant verses telling the story, from Judas' betrayal right through to the resurrection.
The Crucifixion: Mary's Song. This heartfelt song conveys the sorrow following Jesus' crucifixion, told from his mother's perspective. There is no easy way to bring up the subject of death with young children, but Mary's Song is a moving piece that will strike a powerful note with your class. As well as touching on the important matter of life and death, it also explores empathy, an emotion that is incredibly important in children's emotional development.
The Resurrection: Join in the Dance. With an energetic feel that is reminiscent of Jewish folk music, this cheerful ditty about the resurrection will have your class clapping and tapping their feet in no time. You could even devise a simple dance scheme to go with it, creating the perfect Easter celebration.
Christian songs for Easter but they're certainly the ones I have found to work best with my class. They're great as a starting point for further teaching and discussion, giving an overview of the Easter story in an easily digestible format.