top of page
  • Writer's pictureKelly J Massey

Easter, a Celebration of Spring

First, let's talk about timing.

For whatever reason, it's been decided that Easter is celebrated on the Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox, also known as the Paschal Moon in the northern hemisphere. This is why Easter is a floating holiday and can occur anytime between March 22nd and April 25th.

Now, a little on the etymology.

Paschal comes from Middle English's Pasch; other variants include: Easter from Anglo-French, from Late Latin, Pascha; from Greek, Passover, and from Hebrew, Pesah. The first known use can be traced back to the 12th century.

The name for the holiday, Easter, comes from many older traditions whose customs we're not entirely familiar with. What we do know is that several included the celebration of a goddess of spring, to the Scandinavians she was known as Ostra, the Anglo-Saxons called her Eostre, and those that lived in the area now known as Germany called her Eastre.

(There are some modern claims that Easter came from the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess Ishtar of fertility and sex. The sources for these claims haven't yet been proven.)

Wait, what does Jesus coming back from the dead have to do with a goddess of spring?

Technically, nothing. However, to make religion more appealing to those who have not yet adopted it, it's easier to convince pagans that their celebrations are correct, but they don't have all the "facts" or the "truths." The deliberate linking of the "son" and the sun is a common motif throughout Christian literature as Jesus represents the light; even though the words son and sun are not homophonous in other languages. In the spring, daylight continues to lengthen, making it the season to celebrate Jesus's resurrection. (Word of advice, calling him Zombie Jesus will invoke the wrath of some.)

So, what's more interesting, the torturing of a peaceful man and his rising from the dead or colorful eggs and bunnies?

Well, since the focus in the modern era is on Easter Egg Hunts and getting pictures taken with a giant, and sometimes terrifying bunny costume, I would say that the pagan traditions are definitely of more interest, particularly with the youngest of our human population.

All manner of rabbits are said to lay eggs on Easter day, and because of their fertility were considered sacred to the spring goddess. Some regions even banned hunting rabbits because of their association. The Easter Bunny is of German origin and shows up in 16th century literature as a deliverer of colored eggs, but only to well-behaved children. (This should sound familiar to another pagan celebration that bribes children to behave, but falls in the general vicinity of the Winter Solstice.)

Early humans tended to believe that the sun coming back after winter was a miracle, and also saw the egg as a proof of the renewal of life and the symbol of fertility. As Christianity spread, the adoption of the egg as a symbol of Christ's resurrection was naturally adopted.

For centuries, the egg was listed as one of the forbidden foods during the season of Lent. Being able to have them at Easter was a special treat after a season of denial, even before chocolatiers created the delicious chocolate egg we know and love today.

Christians also made a point to dye some of the eggs red in memory of Christ's blood. These crimson eggs were then given children to ensure their health for the next twelve months or buried in fields to for promise of a good harvest and to prevent lightning strikes.

Eggs have even more lore than just what is associated with Easter, Passover, and the Resurrection. When breaking an egg, you shouldn't break the smaller, pointier end as that will wreck your hopes and dreams, apparently. Instead, break the larger, rounder end, not only will you not smash your hopes and dreams, it actually makes a hard-boiled egg easier to peel. Once consumed, the egg must be smashed so that a witch cannot gain power over the individual who ate the egg inside. Also, the smashing of the egg shell prevents witches from using it as a boat, where they will sail out to sea and wreck seafaring ships. Also, you should never burn egg shells because it will cause the hens to stop laying.

So, there you have it, all the nuances and history I can dig up on bunnies, eggs, and a resurrection. Until May Day, enjoy your newfound Easter knowledge.

#details #holidays #spring #equinox #easter

9 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page