Happy Easter 2021!
On Easter Sunday we remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to Christian lore, his emergence from the tomb 2000 years ago proved he was the son of God. For Christians, this event signifies the new life we can experience when we embrace the Word of God.
But before Easter was a Christian celebration, it was a pagan one.
According to St. Bede The Venerable, the word ‘Easter’ was derived from ‘Eostre’, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility. This is also where we get the word ‘oestrogen’ from (Makes sense that a female hormone would be named after a female being). Many of the traditions and symbols that play a key role in Easter observations have their roots in Her celebrations.
The very date of Easter betrays its pagan origins. It is always celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. Nothing related to the date of Jesus’s death at all. However, full moons and equinoxes were highly significant for our European ancestors.
The period of fasting that precedes Easter is a reminder of the dire food reserves our ancestors were left with at the end of winter. Rations needed to be used sparingly. Much of the good stuff was gone. We suffer as they did.
The eggs that birds produce as daylight starts to increase would have been one of the first fresh foods our ancestors could lay their hands on. Same same for rabbits. Their breeding season begins mid-February. These were the first signs of new life. Thus their significance to the ancient Vernal Equinox celebrations: A festival of gratitude that the darkness was receding and the natural world was springing back to life.
Egg rolling and egg decorating customs were created to acknowledge the life-saving role of eggs at this critical time of year.
At its core, the Easter story has always been a reminder that no matter how bleak the world may seem, things can get better.
Whichever version of the story you prefer, Easter is a time of hope.
Enjoy your celebrations today!