What is Easter? (continued)

*This post is a continuation of What is Easter?*

Growing up I loved painting Easter eggs with my mom. It was probably the only time we actually used the food coloring in the house, and it was one more crafting experience for the two of us. We learned how to drain the egg without cracking the shell (man that takes practice!) and make the swirly-striped type of eggs. It was always fun. Then we'd take a basket of eggs to the church for the church Easter egg hunt. At the church I grew up attending, Easter tradition holds that the Saturday before Easter, the children meet for Easter play rehearsal. While the children rehearse, the parents hide eggs outside the church, and after rehearsal, they have the egg hunt. 

But eventually I wanted to know why. Why are we searching for eggs? Why are we painting them? Why is it a bunny that hides them? I mean, once you get to a certain age, the stringing together of so many unrelated things becomes quite baffling...


Why does a bunny have eggs?

Bunnies are mammals; mammals do not lay eggs (well except for monotremes, but they're the rare exception). Bunnies don't eat eggs, either. So why would a bunny have eggs? I mean, there's already a suspension of belief to think a bunny can carry baskets and hide the eggs, etc., but where is the connection of why anyone would begin fabricating a story about a bunny delivering eggs? The connection between the bunny and the eggs, is simply the fusion of multiple traditions and festivals.  

The Easter Bunny

It is thought that the emergence of the Easter bunny (in America) occurred in the 1700's with the introduction of "Osterhase" or "Oschter Haws." "Osterhase," by German tradition, is an egg-laying hare in which children would build a nest for so it could lay its eggs [1]. The first documented tradition of an Easter bunny however, occurred in the 1500's, and the first published story of a bunny hiding eggs occurred in 1680. Another possible origin of the Easter bunny, is through the goddess Eostre/Ostara (mentioned in the previous post). Embodied in the saying "multiply like rabbits," rabbits are known to reproduce at a high rate. Therefore, it stands to reason that a rabbit would be the symbol for a goddess of fertility like Eostre/Ostara [2]. From the date of origin, it is obvious that early Christians did not have an "Easter bunny" and the animal has no connection to the resurrection of Christ.

Easter Eggs

Another name for Easter eggs is Paschal eggs (which at least sounds less pagan and more Passover-ish). The legend of the Paschal eggs stems from a story--not found in the Bible--in which Mary Magdalene is challenged by authorities about her account of Christ's resurrection. The challenger supposedly remarks that the likelihood of Christ being resurrected was about the same as an egg Mary Magdalene was holding turning red in her hand. As legends naturally go, the egg in her hand immediately turned red. Stemming from this story, Orthodox Christians exchange red eggs known as Paschal eggs during Easter [3]. Another non-pagan and possible origin for Easter eggs stems from Lent. Lent is the imitation of Jesus' 40 day fast just before the resurrection. It is thought that to celebrate the end of Lent, early Christians celebrated by eating eggs. Since they would not have had freezers or refrigerators, eggs would be one other few feasible foods they could keep preserved until Easter. Eggs not only served as something they could eat to celebrate breaking the fast, but could also serve as a symbol for hope of a new life, paralleling Jesus' promise of a new life fulfilled through His resurrection [4]. The Easter egg has pagan traditions as well, however. Many pagan festivities for the Spring used eggs and again, the egg was symbolic of new life and fertility (possibly pointing back to Eostre/Ostara). Coloring these eggs was also a tradition for the Persian solar new year festival. [1, 5]

What does the Easter bunny and eggs have to do with Christ?

As explained above, the Easter bunny has absolutely nothing to do with Christ. The eggs, however, are man made traditions in response to Lent and/or legends of Mary Magdalene's red egg combined with a little pagan influence. Still, neither have biblical significance.

Conclusion

The modern Easter holiday that is supposed to be dedicated to His sacrifice is laden with pagan origins and traditions. The ones mentioned here (and the first post), are only a few; there are of course the Easter dresses, suits, and hats, chocolate inside the plastic eggs, etc. that are obviously man made (and commercially endorsed) additions to the holiday. It is important to know the events from the Bible and identify man-made and pagan practices being ripped off as Christian principles. The story of Jesus' Resurrection and the events leading up to it, is told in Luke 22-24. Remember, the celebration of Jesus' sacrifice should be year round.

References

  1. "Easter Symbols and Traditions". History. 2009
  2. Jason Mankey. "Eostre, Easter, Ostara, Eggs, and Bunnies". Patheos. March 2013
  3. "Legend of the Paschal Eggs. Holy Cross; visited April 2014
  4. Angie. "Easter Eggs". Celebrating Holidays; visited April 2014
  5. "What's with the Bunny and Eggs". CBS News. April 20, 2014
  6. Jolie Lee. "Easter Traditions Explained". USA Today. April 18, 2014

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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