The Hunt for the Truth About Easter
There are veils of mystery that cloud the origins of some of our favorite holiday traditions. Why do we dress up and hand out candy on halloween? How is Santa Claus the prevailing symbol of a holiday meant to mark the birth of a messiah? And if Easter is mainly acknowledged as a Christian celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, why is any and all marketing centered around a rabbit, and what does any of this have to do with eggs?
Well, America being the melting pot of cultures, religions and traditions that it is, it should come as no surprise that many holidays begin to morph over time and even come together with other ones into one big festivity, like President’s Day (it celebrates past presidents, Lincoln’s, and Washington’s birthday).
One theory for the reason Easter is even called ‘Easter’ is because it is named after a pagan goddess of Spring, Eastre (or Eostre), who was celebrated by Saxons of Northern Europe, but recently, this theory was dispelled for having no real basis in fact. There is no evidence there was ever a pagan goddess names Eastre, or that there was a celebration thrown in her honor around the beginning of Spring. That being said, it is more widely accepted that Easter simply came from the early Germanic word Eosturmonath which meant “the month of opening” and was Charlemagne’s name for April.
So, much like we call that time around Christmas and Thanksgiving “the holidays”, Easter might just come from Eosturmonath, or April, because that’s just around the time of year it happens to land on.
So what about the bunny and the eggs?
Is it another pagan goddess or Germanic tradition? Well, yes and no. The Easter bunny bringing eggs is another German tradition and was brought by settlers to the Americas around the 1700’s. And while the beloved tradition of hiding and decorating boiled eggs has no basis in any story from the Bible, it is not a pagan celebration or attached to any religion or god-worshipping in general. The bunny is simply believed to represent fertility and the eggs represent new beginnings. The Easter hare is supposed to bring baskets of colorful eggs and candy and hide them in children’s gardens the night before, a lot like Santa Claus. At some point, these two holidays became one.
So even if you keep to the original purpose of celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, you can also color a few eggs and buy some chocolate bunnies if not just to give the kids something fun to do!
And, hey, here’s a nice deviled eggs recipe if you don’t know what to do with all those extra hard boiled eggs. Happy Eosturmonath!