Edited to Add on 7/19/05: Evidently the etymology of “Easter” is more complicated than what I assumed in my title (see Wikipedia on Easter, but the article below is still an interesting read. (i.e. I’m pointing this out more because of the title I used for this post than because of the article below)
Easter is one of those occasions on which human beings entertain a number of contradictory ideas. Christians celebrate a pagan fertility cult, while non-believers make their biannual journey to church. People whose lives are dominated by godless consumption give something up for Lent. A society governed by science engages in the ritual sacrifice and homeopathic magic – eggs and chicks and rabbits – required to induce the earth to bear fruit.
Why? Well, having read this you might fairly accuse me of drawing wide inferences from limited data, but the work of a soil geologist at the University of Oregon offers such a fascinating possible explanation of some of these contradictions that I cannot resist indulging in speculation. …