By Sharon Gordon
Johannesburg - This weekend sees all the major religions celebrate in one way or the other. Christians have Easter, the Jews Passover, Muslims Ramadan and Thursday was the Tamil New Year.
Did you ever wonder what eggs have to do with Easter? Where did the idea for the Easter Bunny come from anyway?
Perhaps you’ve never stopped to think about what eggs and the Easter Bunny have to do with each other—after all, rabbits don’t even lay eggs. At Lola Montez we’ve always made a big thing about the very famous rabbit vibrator and the popular egg toys. We are closer to the truth than you will imagine.
It’s a bit bizarre, isn’t it? Decorating eggs, passing them out as gifts, hunting for them, paying homage to a strange rabbit…what does any of it have to do with the religious holiday of Easter?
The short answer is: nothing. It all goes back to an ancient Pagan tradition.
Easter first started out as a celebration of the Spring Equinox: a time when all of nature is awakened from the slumber of winter and the cycle of renewal begins. Obviously in the global South it’s the other way around. We’re starting to bunker down for winter.
Anglo-Saxon pagans celebrated this time of rebirth by invoking Ēostre or Ostara, the goddess of spring, the dawn, and fertility.
In ancient times, fertility was of singular importance to ensure the survival of a species. Today we could do with a bit less fertility with overpopulation becoming a very real problem.
To celebrate nature’s “rebirth,” the ancients would hold festivals in April to honour the Goddess, which most likely included lavish sex rituals, and even full-on orgies. I don’t know anyone who is planning this kind of celebration.
The ancients were no strangers to sex rituals: worshippers of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, fertility, and madness, would hold orgies in order to celebrate and evoke the ecstatic state of the son of Zeus. Sex didn’t have the same shameful taboos like it does today.
But what does all this have to do with eggs, the Easter bunny, and Easter as a religious holiday?
For that answer, you have to look at how Christianity spread across the world and subsumed pagan rituals.
Christianity slowly began its transition as the popular religion in Rome (and thus around the world) under the Emperor Constantine I (306–337 AD). Constantine converted from Paganism to Christianity in 312 AD, and finally brought an end to the persecution of Christians.
Before that time, the majority of Romans were Pagan and held fast to their old traditions, teachings, and rituals. Constantine The Great, as well as the Roman leaders after him, knew it would be challenge to get everyone to convert to Christianity overnight.
Instead of eliminating the spring equinox/pagan celebrations altogether, Roman rulers slowly converted them into Christian rituals.
Christianity’s rapid spread across the Western World eventually enveloped ancient Celtic pagan traditions, too— including the rituals of Ēostre.
The celebration of fertility and fecundity was replaced with the subtle, innocuous symbol of the egg, and the hare became the Easter Bunny because rabbits reproduce quickly and in large numbers. (Ever heard the term “they f*ck like rabbits)
Ēostre’s sacred animal symbol, is the hare! The name Ēostre sounds like Easter.
So let’s celebrate in true style – get you rabbit and eggs, vibrating or chocolate. I’d even go so far as to call for an egg hunt with a difference.