There is a bit of the pagan in the air this spring Sunday.
The secular celebration of Easter is all from pagan traditions. You’re being a modern Anglo Saxon if you have that bunny and decorated eggs as part of this holiday weekend.
They worshipped Eostre who was their goddess of springtime. This was the time to celebrate the true return of the sun from a long winter. Not that the Sun had been gone entirely, but it did not hold the power that it has in the other three seasons. The Christian holiday of Easter and other religions used the spring equinox as a guide to their own holy days.
But how did we get a rabbit with eggs?
Eostre saved a bird whose wings had frozen during the winter by turning it into a rabbit. That rabbit who had once been a bird retained its ability to lay eggs. Though never officially adapted by the church, the Easter Bunny was born.
Eggs had been a symbol of fertility for a much longer time than Christianity. Keep in mind that eggs from chickens and from birds natural come in many colors, so coloring them began as an imitation of nature.
Unlike today, eggs had once been much more scarce during the winter, so spring also meant the return of eggs to the diet. There are records of people giving each other decorated eggs at this time of year and as part of Easter celebrations that go back to the 11th century.
The Easter holiday sometimes occurs in March but this year it falls on April first, which is also known as April Fool Day.
Easter eggs (also called Paschal eggs) are decorated eggs often used as gifts or decorations on the occasion of Easter or more generally as part of a springtime celebration. Though Easter eggs are common during the season of Eastertide, the egg being symbolic of spring is much older than the religious holiday.
Dyed and painted chicken eggs are the oldest traditional form and are still done today, but they compete with the commercial chocolate eggs wrapped in colored foil and the plastic eggs that people fill with candy, coins, lottery tickets and small gifts.
As a symbol of fertility and rebirth, Christianity adopted them as part of the celebration of Eastertide. I have read that the egg was sometimes said to symbolize the empty tomb from which Jesus resurrected, and that staining eggs red to represent the blood of Christ has been proposed. The custom of the Easter egg can be traced to early Christians of Mesopotamia, and from there it spread into Russia and Siberia through the Orthodox Churches, and later into Europe through the Catholic and Protestant Churches.
Easter eggs are sometimes called Paschal eggs as Easter can be called Pascha (Greek, Latin) or Resurrection Sunday.
A very different kind of “Easter egg” of a modern and technology-related sort is an intentional inside joke, hidden message, image or secret feature of a work. These Easter eggs are found in a computer programs, video games and sometimes in DVD menu screens. The term suggests the traditional Easter egg hunt with the hope of getting a prize when you are successful.
This usage was coined to describe a hidden message marketing device in the Atari video game “Adventure ” that led players on a hunt to find further hidden messages in later games.
In the novel Ready Player One, the plot involves several Easter eggs discovered in video games. The novel is now a Steven Spielberg film that opened yesterday.