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The Pagan Roots of Easter

Children in Britain, for instance, will hunt for eggs hidden by the Easter Bunny during Easter, which is a Christian festival that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion.

However, the festival’s association with bunnies, eggs, and hot cross buns has pre-Christian origins, with many themes rooted in pagan traditions. The spring equinox is a time of renewal and rebirth when days and nights have equal length, and it is celebrated by different cultures worldwide.

Ancient civilizations have stories of resurrection around spring, such as the story of the goddess Inanna, who was killed and brought back to life. These stories share ideologies about renewal and light conquering darkness, and they influenced the Easter traditions we know today.

Christianity absorbed many pagan festivals and traditions, adapting them to the Christian faith. The name “Easter” comes from various sources, with the most common belief being that it came from the Hebrew word “Pesach” or Passover.

However, some historians argue that the word comes from the pagan springtime goddess Ēostre, who was celebrated with a festival during the spring equinox. The Easter Bunny, a symbol of fertility and life, is associated with Ēostre, and the tradition of delivering eggs to good children began in Germany in the 17th century.

The egg, another symbol of new life and fertility, was adapted to symbolize Jesus’ resurrection. The eggshell represents the tomb, and the cracking of it represents Jesus’ emergence. During Lent, a period of penance and fasting leading up to Easter, egg painting became popular because eggs were forbidden.

The hot cross bun, a traditional Easter food, also has pagan origins, with buns marked with a cross baked to celebrate the springtime goddess Ēostre. The symbolism of the cross was adapted to represent the crucifixion of Jesus.

The industrial revolution and commercialism in the 18th and 19th centuries saw the egg and the bunny cement their places in our Easter traditions. Today, people celebrate Easter in different ways, some as a religious occasion, and others as a time to rejoice in the coming of spring, embodied by Easter bunnies, egg hunts, and hot cross buns.

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