As many of you know Easter is right around the corner. And as with most Christian holiday’s and traditions, Easter doesn’t stem from Christian beliefs originally. We can bring it all back to Paganism. So, I thought it would be fun if we talked about the actual origins of Easter.
Firstly we should address the fact that most scholars, even biblical ones, agree that Easter was founded by pagan traditions and festivals. The word Easter is thought to be a derivative of the word Eastra, the springtime goddess. Pagans would make sacrifices to this goddess during the time Christians today celebrate Passover. Despite the fact that most scholars agree it is based on a pagan festival, it is not necessarily agreed which festival.
Due to the fact that Easter is about the death and rebirth of Jesus Christ, some believe that it is taken from the symbolism of the death and return of the sun. Then others believe that Easter is taken from the pagan story of *Tammuz and Ishtar (story will be inserted below)
A very common thought process is Easter got its traditions from the sabbat Ostara, the spring equinox. A very important aspect of Ostara is the idea of renewal which is essentially what the Christian’s Easter is all about.
Now, let’s talk about the traditions celebrated at Easter and where they come from. So firstly lets talk about the rabbit. The rabbit is a very big symbol in Easter. We have the Easter bunny as well as chocolate bunnies that people eat. Bunny’s are also a popular gift to give as pets during this time (which is a whole other issue of it’s own). But where does the symbolism of the bunny really come from? Rabbits are actually associated with the spring time goddess Eostre which would be a deity that many Pagans worship during this time of year. They’re also symbols of fertility which is a big part of what Ostara is about. Another symbol associated with Easter is the egg. The reason for this is similar to that of the bunny. The egg represents spring due to the fact that it is a symbol of fertility and renewal. There is also a legend that says the Goddess Ostara healed a wounded bird by changing it into a hare. However the hare was still part bird and showed it’s gratitude to the goddess by laying eggs for her as gifts.
*When Tammuz dies, Ishtar is grief–stricken and follows him to the underworld. In the underworld, she enters through seven gates, and her worldly attire is removed. “Naked and bowed low” she is judged, killed, and then hung on display. In her absence, the earth loses its fertility, crops cease to grow and animals stop reproducing. Unless something is done, all life on earth will end.
After Ishtar has been missing for three days her assistant goes to other gods for help. Finally one of them Enki, creates two creatures who carry the plant of life and water of life down to the Underworld, sprinkling them on Ishtar and Tammuz, resurrecting them, and giving them the power to return to the earth as the light of the sun for six months. After the six months are up, Tammuz returns to the underworld of the dead, remaining there for another six months, and Ishtar pursues him, prompting the water god to rescue them both. Thus were the cycles of winter death and spring life.
Thank you for checking out today’s post! I hope you learned something new. What do you think the origins of Easter are? Let me know in the comments along with any other thoughts or questions you have. Also make sure to follow me here and on twitter to get notifications when I post and when I upload videos to youtube. And until next time, Blessed Be!