Tuesday, April 2, 2013

why bunnies and eggs?

I needed some stress relief at work Easter morning so I began sculpting a little bunny, lamb, and chick, inadvertently stirring up a conversation with my co-worker and the kids I work with about what any of these things have to do with Easter.

Of course, I didn't have many answers at that moment... 

But I've done a little research since. 

Over many centuries, pagan rituals and Christian celebrations have merged and become what we now recognize to be many of our own holiday traditions. 

Eostre was a  pagan goddess worshipped by the Saxons. She was known as the goddess of spring and fertility, and was sometimes sought after for blessings of luck. She was highly celebrated at the Spring Equinox. 

It was customary for pagan deities to have patron mascots, such as Athena's beloved owl. Athena was known by the Greeks as the goddess of war and wisdom. Because she was believed to have a special affinity for owls and thought to sometimes disguise herself as one, owls have become a symbol of her wisdom. Although faith in mythology has faded, the old saying "wise an an owl" is still engrained in our culture.

In ancient images and stories, Eostre often appears with rabbits and was associated with eggs and newborn animals, symbols of new life and spring. And so, naturally, these things were all highly integrated into how her believers worshipped her. Because of their proximity within the year and somewhat similar themes of new life, the resurrection of Christ and the celebration of Eostre began to merge over time.

Henceforth all the fluffy stuffed bunnies, colored eggs, and those chick-shaped marshmallows that give us all sugar-highs every Spring. So if you didn't know, now you do!

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