Friday, April 22, 2011

Day 112 - S is for Sunday

Sunday: the first day of the week : the Christian analogue of the Jewish Sabbath - Merriam Webster

This Sunday is Easter and while I acknowledge and am quite familiar with the religious aspect of the holiday, I know little about the origin of the Easter Bunny so I started researching and here's something to reflect on as you bite off your chocolate bunny's ears!

"Easter itself is an adapted holiday that was based on the themes and timing of two pre-Christian Pagan traditions. The Anglo-Saxon goddess Ostara was the goddess of fertility. Each spring Pagans would place seeds and colored eggs on their altars in her honor. These symbols represented the new life and beginnings associated with the vernal equinox.

According to Anglo-Saxon legend, the Goddess Ostara turned her pet bird into a rabbit for the vernal equinox. The rabbit would lay colorful eggs to entertain the children. The word "Eostre" was modified to "Easter."

In Northern Europe, the goddess Eostre ruled over fertility. Her consort was a rabbit, whom she cast into the heavens to create the constellation of Lepus the Hare. Once a year, Eostre allowed Lepus to come back to earth and have the ability to lay eggs."

"When the Anglo-Saxons converted to Christianity, sometime around the 1700s, many pagan traditions and customs were combined with Christian beliefs. This was also true for pagan holidays; the celebration for Eostre was combined with the Christian celebration of Jesus’ resurrection because they occurred around the same time. Once combined, Easter was created. For many years Easter was still celebrated with many pagan practices; however, today it's a mix of equal parts, pagan, or non-religious, and Christian with a small commercial element mixed in.

German immigrants brought the traditions surrounding Easter to America in the 1700s. German children looked forward to the Easter because the goddess Eostre, incarnated as a bunny, would bring them goodies. The original Easter Bunny character was called “O_ster Haws_e”, which was pronounced Osterhase. If the children created brightly colored nests and placed them in a secluded area of their home, then the “O_ster Haws_e” would lay brightly colored eggs for them. However, not unlike with Christmas, the children had to be good to receive eggs.

According to the legend, only good children received gifts of colored eggs in the nests that they made in their caps and bonnets before Easter. As the tradition spread, the nest has become the manufactured, modern Easter basket, and the placing of the nest in a secluded area has become the tradition of hiding baskets."

1 comment:

  1. Great post Lynn. Entertaining and informative-way to go!