Easter. Celebration of the resurrection. An empty tomb. Renewal. Easter baskets and brightly colored eggs. Easter is celebrated around the world by Christians and non-Christians alike.
The word ‘Easter’ is believed to have originated with the names of ancient Goddesses, and much of what is associated with the Christian celebration of Easter is pagan in origin. Ancient civilizations celebrated the Spring Equinox as the time when life arose from the death of winter. Everything felt new, revitalized, babies were born, and the land was again fertile. Because of this, it is thought that Christianity adopted, for lack of a better word, some of the ancient legends of death and resurrection and created its own story.
Where do the Easter Bunny, colored eggs, and Easter baskets fit in? One story is that a clever rabbit in search of a gift worthy of the Goddess Eostre happened upon a fresh egg. Instead of keeping the egg for himself, he decided to present it to the Goddess Eostre as a gift during their annual celebration of spring. A plain egg wouldn’t do, so the rabbit set about gathering flowers, fruits, and vegetables that would serve as dye and decorations for his egg. The Goddess was amazed by the rabbit’s gift, awestruck at its beauty and the rabbit’s humble sacrifice in presenting it to her instead of keeping it for himself. So awestruck was she that the Goddess wanted all children to be presented with beautiful eggs. From that day on, the rabbit and his kind were given the honor of decorating and delivering colored eggs to children and animals across the land on the first day of spring.
Even though Easter traditions are rooted in pagan rituals, does it matter? Should it matter? The short answer is that Easter can represent whatever is meaningful to you.
The Christian celebration of Easter may be pagan in origin but that does not mean those who believe Jesus was crucified and resurrected are wrong to believe the Bible and neither are those who choose to celebrate winter’s transition to spring. The colorful and unique tapestry that is humanity can live together in peace and harmony believing as they will. Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal, a time to start over as the world wakes from winter’s slumber.
We all need to start over sometimes. We are messy creatures, at best. The celebration of Easter can be as simple as breathing in the fresh air of spring, forgiving ourselves and others, and starting anew. Let us enter Spring and celebrate Easter with renewed hearts and minds…..