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  • Writer's pictureHeather Morrison-Tapley

Easter - What Do Eggs and Rabbits Have To Do With Christ?

Ostara, Pagan Goddess of Spring

At Easter, we celebrate all kind of rituals. Rituals which, as a child, I couldn't quite understand. Why is a bunny rabbit delivering a chicken's eggs? And is this bunny man sized or a real bunny? Does Easter have something to do with the East? The rituals of Easter are a beautiful example of how early Christians blended their beliefs and rituals with the longstanding Pagan rituals already present in Europe, and the result is the somewhat strange way of worshiping the rebirth of Christ by exchanging colored eggs and chocolate bunnies.

Even the name of Easter is pagan. Eostre, or Ostara, is the ancient Anglo-Saxon goddess of Spring, fertility and rebirth. The animal associated with Eostre is the rabbit, likely because of its abundant fertility. She is often depicted in art holding a rabbit or surrounded by bunnies. Then there is the egg….The egg as Easter symbol has been around since Medieval times in Europe. This may also have been pagan in origin, with eggs being a symbol of fertility in many cultures around the world. The earliest mention of dying eggs is found in documents dating from the 13th century in Germany, in which a wealthy household dyed eggs and handed them out to servants as gifts on Easter. Hard boiling eggs may in fact have originally been done for practical reasons. Christians traditionally were forbidden to eat any animal product during Lent - including meat, cheese or eggs. Hard boiling them may have been a way to preserve valuable eggs until they could be eaten on and after Easter. Extra eggs may have been given to the poor at Easter as there would be an abundance of them that wouldn't last long, and the poor usually couldn't afford meat or eggs themselves.

So, the goddess Eostre was celebrated in Spring as the bringer of fertility, a new growing season, rebirth and the victory of Spring ( life) over Winter (death). Early Christians who celebrate the death and rebirth of Christ in the Spring. These Christians found that incorporating the existing Pagan rituals into their own was a good way to convert people to Christianity. There was also the fact that the pagan rituals persisted even as Christians tried to convert people, so they appropriated those rituals to blend the rituals into one holiday once the church realized they couldn't force the pagans to stop holding these rituals. Today Christians still carry out these traditions and rituals. We celebrate Christ rising from the dead and ascending to eternal life. We go to church, light candles, say prayers and have a big ritual meal. And we continue to incorporate the pagan symbols of bunnies and eggs as we celebrate. So, this weekend we celebrate spring, life over death, fertility and the everlasting life that comes from Christ's resurrection, and from the cycles of the earth forever renewing. #easter #pagan #eastereggs #easterbunny #eostre #ritual #egghunt #stonefeatherfire

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