It’s common knowledge that Easter is a Christian celebration of Christ’s rising, but this holiday also has pagan origins. Where did the colored eggs, cute little bunnies, baby chicks, leg of lamb dinners, and lilies come from? They are all symbols of rebirth and the lamb was a traditional religious sacrifice.
Easter falls in the spring, the yearly time of renewal, when the earth renews itself after a long, cold winter. The word Easter comes to us from the Norsemen’s Eostur, Eastar, Ostara, and Ostar, and the pagan goddess Eostre, all of which involve the season of the growing sun and new birth. The Easter Bunny arose originally as a symbol of fertility, due to the rapid reproduction habits of the hare and rabbit.
Long hard winters often meant little food, and a fresh egg for Easter was quite a prize. Later, Christians abstained from eating meat during the Lenten season prior to Easter. Easter was the first chance to enjoy eggs and meat after the long abstinence.
The egg is nature’s perfect package. It has, during the span of
history, represented mystery, magic, medicine, food and omen. The
egg represents the rebirth of the earth. The long, hard winter is
over; the earth burst forth and is reborn just as the egg
miraculously burst forth with life. The egg, therefore, is believed
to have special powers.
It was buried under the foundations of buildings to ward off evil;
pregnant young Roman women carried an egg on their persons to
foretell the sex of their unborn children; French brides stepped
upon an egg before crossing the threshold of their new homes.
It is the universal symbol of Spring celebrations throughout the
world and has been dyed, painted, adorned and embellished in the
celebration of its special symbolism.
To many Pagans, the golden yolk represents the Sun God, while its
white shell is seen as the White Goddess and the egg as a whole
Traditionally, the eggs were marked with brilliant colors along with
various types of bands drawn upon them which represented the cycles
of life, death, and rebirth. Other symbols representing the triple
Goddess, the Sun, and such shapes as triangles, squares, circles,
and dots can usually be found. The drawing of special signs upon a
symbolic object as with the eggs is a form of magic, as is done
when creating a talisman or amulet.