Most of us realise that like all religious holidays, Easter was adapted from an existing pagan tradition. If you’re curious about the actual origins of Easter, you’re in luck; I’ve sussed it out and prepared a tidy 250 word summary for your reading pleasure. : )
Easter was originally a celebration which honoured Eostre, the pagan goddess of spring. It was a seasonal festival, marked by the first full moon after the Spring Equinox (an equinox is an occasion which occurs twice yearly when a day’s hours of light and darkness are equal in length). As a consequence of it occurring in conjunction with the equinox and the full moon, the actual date of the holiday changed slightly every year, just as it does now.
During the festival of Eostre, people gave thanks for her timely deliverance of spring; a season which has always been synonymous with regeneration and fruitfulness. Eostre’s earthy symbol was the rabbit, selected for its obvious association with fertility.
The significance of the egg is a little more complicated. Ancient Romans understood that all life comes originally from an egg. In accordance with this assumption, it was believed that the moon goddess endured a twenty eight day cycle and ovulated when full. On the first full moon after the Spring Equinox it was believed that she dropped her egg, blessing the earth with her abundant fertility.
Hot cross buns were also a part of the original Eostre tradition. The sweet cakes, which were baked and consumed during the holiday, were marked with the letter ‘T’. This was the initial of Tammuz, the child of the sun god and the moon goddess. Being their child, he was considered equal parts day and night and was therefore celebrated every year during the Spring Equinox.
Happy Eostre, folks.