Easter a day in which most of Christianity celebrate as the resurrection of Christ.
But ask any historian and you will find Easter is a Pagan festival and has deep roots in the Pagan religion.
The Easter holiday for many stands for the crucifixion and is symbolic of Christ’s return from death and his resurrection.
But Easter means much more if you dig deep enough into the Pagan religion you’ll discover its roots in the cycle of the seasons the coming of spring and fertility of the land.
The word Easter is of Saxon origin Eastra the Goddess of spring and it is believed that sacrifices were made to this Goddess so she would bring fertility to the land and produce good crops.
We also see if you look even deeper into the Pagan religion as far back as Babylon the ancient Pagans in Babylonia honoured a Goddess called Ishtar which was pronounced Easter and she also was a Goddess of spring.
Ishtar had a husband called Damuzi (Tammuz) and when he died Ishtar follows him into the underworld she has to enter through seven gates and as she goes through each gate a part of her clothing is removed now naked she finally enters the underworld and is then judged and killed and hung on display in her absence the earth loses its fertility and crops start to die and the animals of the earth stop reproducing.
After three days one of Ishtar’s assistants goes to the Gods for help the Gods agree to help and send two creatures into the underworld one carries the plant of life the other carries the water of life. The creatures find the bodies of Damuzi and Ishtar and sprinkle the water and Plants on to the lifeless bodies where they are resurrected and given the power of light but can only return to earth to for six months. So the earth can heal after the six months are up Damuzi (Tammuz) returns to the underworld where he stays for six months Ishtar enters the underworld once again prompting the water God to help them both.
This is the meaning of winter dies now spring brings life.
Now you might say there are some similarities in that story to the resurrection of Christ well in ancient Greek and Roman times Ishtar was known as the Goddess Aphrodite and in the 4th century when historians and Christians identified the exact site in Jerusalem of the empty tomb where the body of Jesus Christ was laid to rest. They picked the site where a temple of Aphrodite was built. They tore down the temple and built in its place the Church of Holy Sepulchre the holiest Church in the Christian world.
So now I bet your wondering so where does the hot cross bun come into Easter and what about the Easter Egg and Easter Bunny.
Well, the cross on the bun represents the crucifixion and the fruit and spices in the bun represent the spices and fruits that were placed on Christ’s body after his death.
It is said that Queen Elizabeth passed a law decreeing that the sale of buns and spiced loaves of bread were limited to funerals and the Friday before Easter and just before Christmas.
This gives us today the tradition of eating them on Good Friday.
Now the Easter Egg is a symbol of rebirth giver of new life and fertility. And the Hare or as it is now called the Easter Bunny is the first animal of spring and symbolises the coming of spring and the start of crops growing and the earth healing itself.
The idea of the Easter Bunny bringing eggs comes from German immigrants who settled in America in the 1700s. And over the past 200 hundred years has become the most recognised symbol of Easter in America.
The German story tells of a Hare bringing eggs for the children over Easter and hiding them in the garden or in the house for the children to find this gives us the tradition of the Easter egg hunt today.