Friday, April 18, 2014

When Did Pagan Easter Bunnies Show Up?

According to the Venerable Bede, Easter or Eostre, was the pagan goddess of fertility, spring and the dawn.

Her symbols, we are told, were flowers, rabbits, and eggs, as well as the sun and the moon.

According to an ancient German tale associated with Eostre (a tale that seems to first pop up as a Brother's Grimm's Fairy Tale), a little girl found a bird in the snow that was close to death, and she prayed to Eostre, the Goddess of Spring, to help the bird.

Eostre appeared, crossing a rainbow bridge, with the snow melting before her feet as she walked. Seeing that the bird was badly wounded and cold, she magically turned it into a rabbit so it could survive the blustery winds. Unfortunately, however the transformation from bird to rabbit was incomplete, and the rabbit retained the ability to lay eggs. Nonetheless, in thanks for savings its life, the rabbit took the eggs that it laid, and decorated them, offering them up as gifts to Eostre at this time of year.

Yes, a pretty crazy story.

And no, I do not make this stuff up (someone else does that).


scribemjp said...

Great Blog!

I wonder, does the word Easter/Goddess Eostre and the word estrus have any relation?

Bunnies and eggs....couldn't get more literal fertility symbols than those!

Happy Festivus to you, too!

PBurns said...

Yes! Same root origin. Good call!


Bartimaeus said...

Nice post-I like to think of cultural traditions like Easter as onions of which we can only see the most recent 2-3 layers. It is fascinating to learn about the roots of our culture, as much as we can know them.
I plan on taking my two jacks out tomorrow too-not really any burrowing quarry here in AZ, but the Jackrabbits are great fun, we even manage to catch one once in awhile, and the dogs have learned to be great squirrel dogs during the fall squirrel season.