The Annual Rite Of The Eostre Holiday
By James Donahue
celebration this weekend is to Eostre, the pagan goddess of spring and fertility. It was never meant for Jesus.
The Roman Catholic Church scooped up the trappings of the pagan rites
of spring the turned it into a celebration of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. In essence the holiday marks the
end of winter, the rising of Ra, the Sun, and the rebirth of the green and growing foods from the earth.
Labeled as the holiest holiday among Christians and Jews, for different
reasons, the celebration has become a complex mixture of bunnies, baby chicks, painted chicken eggs, candies delivered in
baskets filled with fake grass, and ladies wearing new spring hats. Some celebrate by going to church at sunrise because this
is the time Jesus was allegedly supposed to have risen from the dead.
Many may wonder why Easter has become such a hodge-podge of traditions ranging from mysterious visits by Easter
rabbits that bring gifts and candy to Easter Parades and the display of Lilies.
The crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus is part of the story, but this also is part of an ancient pagan
mythology that dates back to Semiramis, wife of Mesopotamian ruler Nimrod who declared herself mother of the reborn god Marduke.
She proclaimed it a virgin birth. That was the first Jesus story. After Marduke came the Persian sun-god Mithra, the Egyptian
solar god Horus, the Far Eastern god Buddha, and the Indian god Krishna. All of these follows died, some of them by crucifixion,
then rose from the dead after three days. They promised to return and take all people who believed in them to heaven. Their
life stories parallel the Bible story of Jesus.
was the Roman emperor Constantine who advanced the cause of Christianity after his conversion from Mithraism. At the time
he came to power, Rome ruled the known world, from Britain to North Africa. He made Christianity the official religion throughout
Europe. From there it spread to the New World when the Europeans settled North America.
The Americans carried the celebration of Easter to fantastically new levels than the folks in the old world ever
The mixing of rabbits, colored eggs,
candy and the other trappings of the holiday appear to have happened when the Christian holiday got mixed in with pagan rites
of spring, which, when you get right down to it, is what Easter is really all about.
For example, in the Western culture, Easter falls on the first Sunday following the full moon on or after the
spring equinox on March 21. Thus Easter can occur as early as March 22 or as late as April 25. It may never fall on the real
date that Jesus died. That he rose from the dead is a myth that is yet to be proven. The Jewish Passover is associated with
the mix, since the Bible story maintains the crucifixion occurred during the time of this religious event as well.
The spring celebrations once honored the pagan goddess Eostre, also
known as Ishtar and Oestre. She was the goddess of spring and fertility. Thus the decorating of eggs, showing of blooming
flowers and newborn animals like baby chickens all are symbols of newness and rebirth. The rabbit, known for its ability to
reproduce its numbers quickly, also became a symbol for the fertility of the season.
It is all about sex and the planting of crops for a new season. Notice too, that the very name of the goddess
Eostre, Ishtar or Oestre is updated to the word Easter. The celebration, if you
want to participate, is to her, not to Jesus. It has been so for thousands of years.
There is a story about how the Easter Bunny came into being. It seems The Goddess Eostre took pity on a wounded
bird that could no longer fly and transformed it into a white hare, then blessed it with the ability to lay eggs in many colors,
but only on one day of each year. When the hare later offended Eostre, she banished it to the stars as the constellation Lepus.
The hare was only permitted to return to earth on Eostre’s feast day each year and give its special eggs as gifts to
The Easter basket had it
origins in Germany, where children traditionally placed their hats in secret places on the night before Easter. If they were
good, they were told the “Oschter Haws” would leave colored eggs and treats in their hats. When the German immigrants
came to America, the hats and bonnets evolved into baskets.
There is another story that the coloring of eggs is a tradition that dates back to about the Thirteenth Century.
It is said that eggs were a forbidden food for Catholics during the Lenten season, so people painted and decorated them to
mark the end of the period of penance and fasting. They were eaten on Easter as part of the celebration.
Easter egg hunts and egg rolling are contemporary and very American
traditions. The first White House egg roll was started by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878. Some people think of egg
rolling as symbolic of rolling the stone away from the tomb of Jesus.
Easter candy mostly includes egg-shaped chocolates, rabbit shaped chocolates, and jelly beans, which look like
small eggs. Sam Born invented the concept of the marshmallow Peep in the 1950s and that is now included among the traditional
New Yorkers have held a
traditional Easter Parade since the mid-1800s. This event was made popular by the 1948 film Easter Parade starring Fred Astaire
and Judy Garland, with music by Irving Berlin. Now other cities across America also hold Easter Parades.