Mythology Monday: Some Ideas About The Origins Of Easter

OK, I know that this is going to actually hit the blog on the 13th, aka the day after Easter. But I’m writing it on Easter, and it’s going up on the Patreon on Easter, so I’m counting it.

Today, we’re going to talk about the origins of the holiday, and how it may actually be older than you think.

First off, I need to debunk something really quickly. You may have seen this image floating around on the internet over the past few years:

Yeah, there’s no evidence of any of this. Also, Ishtar is pronounced exactly as it’s spelled. So, with that out of the way, let’s continue.

Now, as many of us living in a Christian-dominated culture know, the holiday as it’s celebrated today is meant to mark the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. As a side note, it also tends to land really close to the Jewish feast of Pesach, or Passover. But what do all the eggs and bunnies have to do with that, you might ask?

The answer to that is absolutely nothing. See, it’s believed that those particular elements actually come from much older pagan traditions surrounding the spring solstice, and were brought to the Christian celebration through our old friend syncretism. Unfortunately, we can’t be 100% certain of the actual origins, since those were lost to time. There are some educated guesses, however.

The most likely one, and one that most people agree with, comes from Bede, a British monk who was born around 672 CE. According to his writings, Easter was originally a festival celebrating an old Germanic goddess known as Eostre or Ostara. However, this should also be taken with a grain of salt, seeing as how some believe that Bede may have just made that up. A number of Pagan groups, however, have taken to worshipping Eostre, and have rededicated the holiday to her.

It should also be noted that a number of dawn goddessess in different cultures have similar names, including and ancient Greek dawn goddesss named Eos. Not particularly related, but I found that interesting.

What can be agreed on, though, is that Easter was most likely originally a fertility festival, seeing as how it’s typically celebrated in spring. This links to the other trappings of Easter as well, since rabbits have often been used as symbols of fertility, considering how often they reproduce. “Fucking like rabbits” isn’t a common phrase for nothing, after all.

As for the eggs, why those are associated with Easter is a little more obscure. They also symbolize fertility, but we aren’t really sure where the decoration and hiding part comes from. However, there have been decorated ostrich egg shells as old as 6,000 years found in parts of Africa. As for the Christian side of things, it’s believed that early Christians may have dyed eggs red in order to symbolize the blood of Christ.

It should be pointed out, however, that nowadays we have far more color options when it comes to decorating eggs. Which was my favorite part of the holiday when I was a kid, by the way.

Not so much the going to mass for several hours in the middle of the night, though.

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