Looking forward to holidays is in my blood. Years of being a stay- at- home mom helped me appreciate the happy focus that an up- coming holiday could provide our family as they came to define the seasons of the year. I have heard some UUs admit that Easter is a hard event to celebrate with any kind of integrity– given their theology. This makes total sense but spring, with its miraculous renewal of life, calls for a celebration in my book, more than any other time of year.
Learning the origins of Easter helped me to reclaim this holiday for myself and my family. My parents always thought the Easter Bunny and egg hunts detracted from the “true meaning” of the holiday but I have found the opposite to be true. Easter gets its name from the Goddess of Spring and Dawn (O-star-a). Ostara is sometimes depicted with the head of a hare or as a goddess surrounded by rabbits and birds. The story goes that children presented eggs to the Goddess as a gift to thank her for bringing spring. Ostara was so touched she recruited her minions (the rabbits) to return the eggs to the children only now they were brightly colored by her magic.
The Celts dyed eggs red to symbolize the menstrual cycle that gives life. While they were dying the eggs women and children would think about their hopes for the coming year. They would then bury the red egg alongside a plant to help it grow. They believed that if the plant grew strong and healthy their hopes and dreams would also take root and come to fruition by the end of the year.
When Christians entered the picture they did not approve of this pagan practice so they encouraged
kids to seek out and dig up these eggs from out of the ground. When they brought them back to the
church the kids would get a small token for each egg. This is how the Easter Hunt was born.
Easter is around the Equinox when there is 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. The mark on the hot cross buns didn’t start out being a cross. Rather the two intersecting lines most likely meant the four seasons of the year, the four phases of the moon or the equality between night and day.