Last Sunday morning, many of you probably put on your Easter best and gathered with your family at church for early morning prayers. More of you probably got together to give Easter baskets, eat chocolate bunnies and hunt for brightly colored eggs. Americans buy about 180 million eggs and spend approximately $17.2 billion on their Easter celebrations, according to CNN.
Every year, Easter falls on the Sunday after the full moon of the spring equinox. It’s interesting to see Christians observing moon cycles — something you’d more commonly see from a Pagan celebration. Or maybe it’s not so surprising, considering the parallels between the Christian spring holiday, Easter, and the ancient Pagan spring holiday, Ostara.
Humans have been giving baskets of goodies, dyeing eggs, playing with rabbit symbolism and holding early morning religious festivals to celebrate spring long before Christianity or Jesus Christ.
According to Richard McDonald, professor at Utah Valley University and Ph.D. in medieval renaissance literature, Eosturmonath (Eostra month) is the Pagan term for the month of the goddess Eostra, April. Eostra was known as the goddess of fertility, dawn, rising and spring. Pagans worshiped Eostra by celebrating their spring holiday, Ostara.
The main symbol of the goddess Eostra was a rabbit because of its awesome fertility. Eggs, another ancient symbol of fertility, were dyed to symbolize the colors of spring. Some scholars speculate that the term “east” comes from the goddess Eostra because the sun rises in the east, giving birth to a new day.
Maybe it’s all just one big coincidence — I don’t know, I wasn’t there. But Eostra, Easter — it’s not a hard connection to make, especially with the convenient timing. While I am not attempting to discredit Jesus’ rising or Christianity in general, I am a little confused at the practices of Christians on Easter.
At this point, the whole Eostra/Easter debate isn’t exactly a secret. Rabbits and eggs have nothing to do with the resurrection of the Christian prophet, and in theory, the resurrection of the Christian prophet has nothing to do with spring. It just so happens Jesus was crucified and arose in the spring.
Using Pagan symbolisms and traditions when you are ignorant of the meaning is one thing, but continuing the practice of Pagan traditions on one of the most holy holidays in your non-pagan religion just seems a little blasphemous to me.
I get it; holidays have been hijacked by corporations in the United States. Kids want egg hunts and pictures with the Easter bunny because that’s what they’ve been sold. But no one forced anyone’s hand and made anyone buy these products. Christians allowed their holidays to be commercialized by buying into the scam. On Easter, that commercialization just happens to mean you’re celebrating your Christian messiah by using Pagan goddess symbols.
If CNN’s Easter spending report is any indication, Americans spend more time on the novelty of Easter than they do in church on Easter. But don’t feel too bad, the Bible says you shouldn’t put any gods before the Christian god. Just make sure your Eostra egg hunts happen after church next year.