UPDATE : 2020.9.23 Wed 17:22
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Happy Egg Day!

I have been teaching in Korea for a long time. I have taught four year old girls, sixty-five year old men, and just about every kind of person in between. An important part of my job, of course, is explaining cultural misunderstandings whenever possible. Some of these misunderstandings are obvious and familiar, such as the fact that in Western countries people consider it rude to ask an older person’s age. Some are more obscure. There is one misunderstanding, however, which recurs each year, and at every age and English level, and which somehow surprises me every time. That is the general unfamiliarity with the word “Easter.” Whenever I discuss Western holidays, I casually mention Easter as an important date, only to discover that most students have no idea what I mean.

Many Korean children will understand what I am referring to if I use the name “Egg Day.” They have heard of the tradition of decorating eggs in the spring, although they usually have no idea why it is done. Indeed, many Western people, even among Christians, have no idea why eggs are connected with Easter at all. So, although I am not a religious person, perhaps a few words about Easter, and its associated tradition of decorating eggs, would be helpful.

All Koreans are familiar with Christmas, and Korean Christians take the day very seriously. Christmas is, of course, the day Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. For Christians, who believe Jesus is literally the son of God, this birthday is obviously very important. However, for Western Christians, Christmas is only the second most important day of the year. The most important day is Easter. Every spring, on Easter weekend, we remember the death of Jesus. And on Easter Sunday itself, Christians celebrate the most important event in their religion—the resurrection of Jesus. To be resurrected means to rise from the dead. Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his death on the cross. This event, much more than Jesus’ birth, is the basis of the entire Christian faith. After all, all humans are born, and all die, but only God can overcome death. Jesus died for us, as Christians say. But more importantly, Jesus rose from the dead for us. In other words, his resurrection saves us all, by showing us the way to “eternal life.” This is the moment in history that Christians believe changed everything. From this moment on, people who follow Jesus can be saved from death.

This is Easter, the most important moment in human history, if you are a Christian. So what does this have to do with decorating eggs? It’s all about symbolism. What is an egg? It is the beginning of animal life. A new beginning. And what is Easter? It is the moment of Jesus’ resurrection, the moment when God changed the meaning of life on earth. In other words, it is a new beginning for humanity. Therefore, we decorate eggs to represent the new beginning that Easter gives us. That is why eggs are such an important part of Easter celebrations, just as pine trees are important at Christmas. (Yes, the Christmas tree is also a symbol. It represents the cross that Jesus died on.) And that is why, even in Korea, where most people don’t know the word “Easter,” children are familiar with the expression “Egg Day.” I am not a practicing Christian, but I do appreciate good symbolism. So Happy Egg Day!

Daren Jonescu  -

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