Easter for many years has now been commonly thought of as a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion. However, as previously demonstrated in the article “5? Near-Identical Jesus Myths That Predate Jesus,” Easter is not an original Christian holiday. Several aspects of Easter originate from Pagan traditions celebrated much earlier than the Biblical era. Here are just a few of those traditions.
1. Easter Vs. Ostara
Yes, there is another closely related Easter festival that is celebrated around the same time as the Christian Easter holiday. Ostara was traditionally celebrated as a time of renewal and rebirth at the vernal equinox. Christians of course celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from his tomb. So, Ostara celebrates the renewal and rebirth of Spring, and Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. Both are also celebrated around the same time as each other.
Though very little scholarly evidence, many believe the word Easter and even the word Ostara originates from a goddess of spring called Eostre. Eostre was first mentioned thirteen hundred years ago by Bede, a British historian. He wrote that the month April at one time was:
“…known as Eostremonth, and is named for a goddess that the Anglo-Saxons honored in the spring.”
Other than the Grimm brothers stating they did find evidence of Eostre in oral traditions in Germany and the possibility of Eostre being a Norse goddess, that is all that really exists on Eostre’s existence. However, modern-day Pagans and Wiccans do associate Ostara with Eostre. She is considered to be a fertility goddess associated with the “resurrection of the dead” from the winter cold.
Controversy or not, the beliefs behind Eostre and celebration of Ostara does sound fairly familiar doesn’t it?
3. Easter Eggs
So, who in the world came up with Easter eggs? There is no mention of brightly colored eggs in the Bible. Nobody laid eggs at the bottom of the cross. There were no Easter eggs at Jesus’ tomb when it was discovered he had rose from the dead. So, why do we associate Easter eggs with Easter?
Eggs have commonly been associated with fertility, coming out of the womb, and procreation. Eostre is said to have carried an egg which symbolized birth and new life and has been associated with pagan festivals. It is said pagan children would gift Eostre with eggs as thanks for spring.
On the Christian end, however, it is believed that Easter eggs do symbolize Jesus’ resurrection and also are a way to celebrate after Lent where observers refrain from meat and eggs.
Interestingly, decorated eggs are used at the time of Nowruz, the Iranian spring holidays, which marks the first day of spring and beginning of the year in the Persian calendar. It is still observed by Persians of Islamic, Zoroastrian, and other faiths today.
4. Easter Bunny
It was angels that told the women that Jesus had rose from the dead. Not the Easter Bunny. So, why is the Easter Bunny one of the first things we think of when we think of Easter?
Basically, rabbits are known for their breeding prowess. Spring is a time of abundance, fertility, growth, and rebirth. So, it’s fitting for a rabbit to become a symbol of Spring.
Thought to be a symbol of Eostre, it is believed that she was carried by hares or even having the head of a hare. Accompanying the myth that pagan children gifted Eostre with eggs is the myth that being so pleased with the gifts, she had her rabbit minions return them back to the children in baskets.
5. The Resurrection
The entire point of the Christian Easter holiday is to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. That’s awesome if that’s what you believe. However, Christianity is definitely not the only religion that had a deity that rose from the dead.
In all, no, Easter cannot be correctly ascertained as an entirely Christian holiday. To do so would be completely uneducated. Sadly with the historical changes being made to our textbooks nationwide, this isn’t too far fetched. Do I think the true meaning behind Easter is a flagrant bold farce stealing from other religions to fool people into worshiping Jesus? No. Not really. I believe Christianity takes common symbols that have been forgotten, yet imprinted on our minds through tradition, and applies them to the corresponding belief system of Christianity. It’s just that we should recognize and remember they are cultural hand-me-downs in history.
Regardless of whatever you celebrate, I hope you get a basket full of chocolate and eggs and have a wonderful holiday!
To read more about the beautiful art of Easter eggs, check out this article here!