The Pagan Reason We Celebrate Easter With Colored Eggs & The Easter Bunny

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What Is The History Of Easter? How Pagan Symbols Explain Christian Traditions

It all starts with a Pagan goddess named Eostre ...

Easter arrives on Sunday, April 12, 2020, and if you think Easter started as a Christian holiday, it's time to think again.

The history and origins of Easter began aren't rooted in what Christians know as Resurrection Sunday, but rather, as part of the lexicon of the Pagan religion's holidays.

Even as Christians celebrate the day of Jesus Christ's resurrection, people of other faiths and religious traditions (which existed for millennia before Christianity was established) celebrate their own stories of their god's being brought back to life again after death.

From the Egyptian god Osiris to the Greek god Dionysus and others, resurrection has always been a fairly common theme of religion and mythology.

And according to Heather McDougall, writing for The Guardian, Easter's meaning and traditions are closely connected to paganism.

"The general symbolic story of the death of the son (sun) on a cross (the constellation of the Southern Cross) and his rebirth, overcoming the powers of darkness, was a well worn story in the ancient world. There were plenty of parallel, rival resurrected saviours, too."

In fact, Easter is named after Eostre, a pagan goddess who was worshipped for centuries before Christ.

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Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, from whom we get the word estrogen, was believed to usher in spring every year, thereby resurrecting the earth from the dead of winter into the new life of spring.

But what about all the Easter bunnies, eggs and family egg hunts, you ask?

Well, the story of pagan Easter goes like this:

One year, Eostre was late in coming and the snow didn't melt. This made it hard for the birds to find food, and one little bird broke its leg while digging through the deep snows. Showing mercy for the bird, Eostre turned it into a rabbit so that it could hop on top of the snow.

She knew the rabbit still had the heart of a bird, so she allowed it to continue laying eggs — all of which would now boast the glorious colors of spring.

It therefore became a tradition for families to paint Easter eggs in honor of their goddess and in gratitude for the spring.

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It was only centuries later that the tradition of "hiding" eggs grew.

Many scholars believe this practice was a way for pagan families and children to worship Eostre without suffering persecution by the Catholic Church, which had criminalized paganism.

In a further effort to aggressively Christianize the pagan population, the Catholic Church "taught" them that the resurrection of their god happened on Easter, thereby claiming the Pagan holiday as a Christian one.

That's why, to this day, you will encounter many Christians who mistakenly assume this holiday has purely Christian origins, and who may even feel insulted when anyone challenges this belief.

If you celebrate Easter, remember to embrace the many colors of spring.

This includes respecting the many belief and non-belief systems, old and new, that celebrate in ways that are meaningful to them and their families. We should especially remember the beautiful story of Eostre, the kind-hearted Anglo-Saxon goddess who brings the sunshine and warmth of spring.

These "illuminated" traditions have incredibly rich and colorful histories and, in my opinion, it is long past time for them to be resurrected.

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Debra Macleod, B.A., LL.B. is an author and conflict specialist who offers a fast, focused and no-nonsense alternative to couples counseling and ineffective marriage coaching systems.