…It is a well-known element of Christian tradition: early missionaries repurposed or replaced established pagan rituals, artifacts, and places in their effort to convert the local people. There are some very famous instances of this: Santa Maria Sopra Minerva is a beautiful Roman church built upon the ruins of a pagan temple to the goddess of wisdom and war; the church makes a bold statement that Mary is the true seat of wisdom, and that Christendom has replaced pagan Rome. There are countless of other instances of this reality as Christianity spread to the four corners of the world and missionaries sought ways to cement the Truth in the local imagination.
So many people grant that the name “Easter” is a recycled pagan festival of the spring, united with the renewal of the world brought about by Christ’s rising from the dead. To the pious, this connection can seem like a beautiful connection of the natural and the supernatural. To the secular world, however, Easter’s supposed pre-Christian spring ritual roots are an opportunity to make the feast simply about bunnies, spring flowers, and eggs—all signs of spring without any of that obnoxious cross or empty tomb nonsense. If the Christian world added Christ to Easter, then it is a simple enough matter to take Christ back out of Easter and just celebrate the beginning of spring. If Easter was originally a rite of spring, then, with Christ’s resurrection out of the picture, you can still have “a reason for the season.”