Commonly seen symbols of the Easter Sunday traditions, Easter eggs and holly leaves are some of the most well-known Easter symbols around. However, what many of us don’t realise is that there is a much older Easter tradition that predates these symbols by thousands of years. And that’s the story of how Easter came to be associated with Paganism. Let’s explore this side of Easter history in a little more detail…
The first mention of the Christian Easter comes from the Old Testament book of Numbers. It describes the offering of frankincense to theertility Goddess, Ashtoresh, as a way to fertility and improve the harvest. This fertility symbol was a key symbol for the Israelites, as it helped them to understand their connection with Jerusalem, and the Return of the Children of Israel. The fertility symbols of the Egyptians were also closely associated with the sun, which they associated with the rejuvenation of the land. The sun was also seen as a symbol of Light and was often represented by an egg.
So when you think of fertility and Christianity, you have a lot of elements coming together to make a picture that has religious overtones. One of the many symbols of fertility found in Christian artwork is the egg. This is a classic symbol of the connection between humanity and God, and represents the triumph of good over evil.
Many Christians would associate the Easter Bunny with Easter and what’s even more fascinating is that both he and the bunny have Christian origins. When the French monk, Saint Martin, became the first Catholic Bishop in the 11th century, he made Easter festivities part of his calendar. His efforts sparked off a whole chain of events, including the beginning of the practice of eggs being blessed. Throughout the centuries, various images of the rabbit or the egg, and of fertility, have been used as fertility symbols.
Today, the Easter Bunny is still a favorite icon of Easter and fertility. There are numerous pictures of him, and many children’s songs were written about him. But what he represents goes way beyond that image. The bunny has always been a symbol of innocence and happiness. A great many Christians feel that the bunny is their greatest symbol of all and also their most symbolic of all.
As a Pagan, I see the Easter Bunny as a symbol of many things, but primarily his association with fertility. In many Pagan cultures, fertility is considered the most important of all things. It’s the source of life, it’s the force that keeps the universe in motion. In ancient Egypt, fertility was equated with the god Osiris.
To the Pagans of old, fertility was also a symbol of good fortune. They would take special precautions to ensure that they were able to bear children, and they were not the only Pagans who thought this way. Many other civilizations would look to fertility as a very important symbol. In ancient Greece, a fertility god was recognized with the emblem of the rabbit. The Egyptians regarded the moon as a symbol of fertility as well, and the Chinese would look to the flowers and plants for help grow their crops.
From these various sources it can be seen that the Easter Bunny plays a very important role as a symbol in Easter worship. In many societies, he is seen as the symbol of pure joy and happiness. For this reason, many people in various cultures look to Easter for a renewal of happiness. And it is through this symbolism that Easter becomes not just a Christian holiday, but a Pagan one as well.