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Easter is at the time of the Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and it marks the beginning of Spring. The return of the sunlight and the warm and fertile Earth was celebrated in the ancient world. Like all Christian holy days and holidays, Easter was overlayed on the time of pre-Christian Spring Festivals that celebrated the return of the balance of day and night and fertility of the crops and animals.

There are no Easter bunnies nor brightly colored easter eggs in the biblical literature. Those ancient traditions that are still practiced provide living proof that pagan traditions have left their mark on the modern world.

Spring festivals were widespread in the ancient world. In fact, the return of Spring was one of the most significant times of the year to the ancient cultures along with the harvest. Consider the following:

  • There was an ancient Babylonian holiday that celebrated the resurrection of the god, Tammuz, who was brought back from the underworld by his mother, Ishtar, the goddess of Spring. The pronunciation of her name is very close to the pronunciation of Easter. In Phoenecia she was called Astarte.
  • The ancient Anglo-Saxon goddess of Spring was called Eastre or Ostera or Eostre. Many of our Easter traditions came to us from the Anglo-Saxons, especially bunnies laying eggs in little nests in the grass.
  • Lent, the forty day abstinence period, was also derived from the ancient world and fasting was done to honor several different gods.
  • The egg was the symbol of fertility in the ancient world- the perfect way to welcome the return of Spring. They were dyed and hung in Egyptian temples.
  • The hare was also an ancient world symbol of fertility as it is today.
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2013-04-01 14:47:05
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Q: Where did Easter originate?
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