The Origins of Easter

Happy Easter Everyone.

So with everything going on I thought I'd make this weeks post a bit of a light hearted one, and take a look at the origins of Easter.  

After all there is no mention of the Easter bunny in the Bible, and I've never known a rabbit to lay eggs.  So how did we get these traditions?

Let's take a look at where the traditions of Easter come from.

The first tradition is the big eared, floppy feet know as the Easter Bunny.

Where did the Easter Bunny come from?

Well the Easter Bunny stems from Pagan traditions and that of the Spring Equinox, Rabbits are a symbol of the Goddess of dawn and fertility, Eostre.

As has happened with many Pagan traditions as Christianity spread a lot of the traditions where blended with the Christian traditions to make the transition smoother.

So how did we get from the rabbit as a symbol of the Goddess Eostre to the modern version of the Easter Bunny

The earliest sightings of the modern Easter Bunny appear to have migrated across to the US with the German immigrants in the 100's.  This rabbit was called "Oschter Haws" and was believed to lay a nest of colourful eggs for the good children.

Children would build nests for 'Oschter Haws' to leave the eggs, slowly the eggs changed to chocolates and the nests became baskets, 'Oschter Haws' became Easter Bunny.

Why Eggs?

As you will have noticed birds lay eggs, not rabbits.  So how did we get eggs?

Much like the Rabbit was a symbol of fertility, so is the egg, as well as being a symbol of rebirth and new beginnings.  From Ancient Egypt with the Phoenix burning itself and nest leaving an egg to be reborn, to Hinduism where the world is birthed from an egg.

Just as so many other Pagan traditions this tradition was also taken by the Christians and the Egg became a symbol of the resurrection.

The first eggs used in the tradition where chicken or duck eggs, colourfully decorated with food dye, the Orthodox traditions still include this as a part of their Easter celebrations, where the family will take turns and tap their eggs with each other and whoever's egg is not cracked at the end receives the Easter blessing.

The 17th and 18th Century saw the rise of of egg shaped gifts, with the first chocolate Easter eggs coming into existence in the 19th century.

Why do we have an Easter Egg Hunt? 

Well this is probably the newest of the Easter traditions, it appears that the Hunt originated in the 1700's with the Dutch community in Pennsylvania.   Children would build nests for the 'Oschter Haws' the egg laying Rabbit.  As the Easter Bunny laid eggs in the grass, children would search for eggs in the grass.  

Eventually this became what we know today as the Easter Egg Hunt.

So there you have it, a lot of what we have come to enjoy on this holiday predate the holiday itself.

Happy hunting may you find all the eggs you can carry.