Thanks to Ann for the link to this informative article! I knew many of these facts but still found some surprises tucked in there like little Easter eggs. 😉
The Origin of Easter’s Symbols and Sacred Objects
Jennifer L. Shelton’s Blog
Most of you probably know that the date of Easter, as celebrated by the Christian church, is pagan in origin. “Like all the church’s ‘movable feasts,’ Easter shows its pagan origin in a dating system based on the old lunar calendar. It is fixed as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, at a time when the Goddess Eostre slew and re-conceived the Savior or vegetation god for a new season. The Christian festival wasn’t called ‘Easter’ until the Goddess’s name was given to it in the late Middle Ages.” – The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G. Walker
Today, I’ve provided the origins of many of the symbols and sacred objects associated with Easter. The entry on “eggs” is excerpted from The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G. Walker. The remaining entries are copied from another work by Barbara Walker, The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects.
Eggs were always symbols of rebirth, which is why Easter eggs were usually colored red – the life-color – especially in Eastern Europe. Russians used to lay red Easter eggs on graves to serve as resurrection charms.
In Bohemia, Christ was duly honored on Easter Sunday and his pagan rival on Eastern Monday, which was the Moon-day opposed to the Sun-day. Village girls like ancient priestesses sacrificed the Lord of Death and threw him into the water, singing, “Death swims in the water, spring comes to visit us, with eggs that are red, with yellow pancakes, we carried Death out of the village, we are carrying Summer into the village.”
The Easter Bunny began with the pagan festival of the springtime Goddess Eostre, when it was said that the Goddess’s totem, the Moon-hare, would lay eggs for good children to eat. The Easter Bunny still brings eggs to children, though they are now made of chocolate and sugar instead of more nourishing ingredients. Eostre’s hare was the shape that Celts imaged on the surface of the full moon, derived from old Indo-European sources. In Sanskrit, the moon was cacin, “that which is marked with the Hare.” Queen Boadicea’s banners displayed the Moon-hare as a sacred sign. Both hares and cats were designated the familiars of witches in Scotland, where the word malkin or mawkin was applied to both.
[Click here to continue reading about the symbolic origins of hares, hot cross buns, lilies, peacocks, and purple. Happy Easter in whatever form you celebrate this day!]