For as long as one can remember, Easter has been a holiday associated with the resurrection of Jesus Christ after he was crucified. This origin has led a religious and spiritual tone to the occasion which precedes a 40-day period of fasting and abstinence. And so it may come as a surprise that the traditions of Easter were actually practiced before Christ was even born.
A Pagan Origin
The theme of resurrection has always stayed with the holiday. Before Christ, people celebrated Easter as a resurrection of the earth and its fertility after the long, hard winter months, when the flowers began to bloom again. This was a celebration of the pagan goddess, Ishtar. The similarity of the goddess’ name and that of Easter is probably no coincidence.
A Celebration OF Fertility
Because Easter appears close to the spring season, the holiday has always been associated with renewed fertility and vigour. Even in its current avatars, the symbols of the holiday, namely eggs and rabbits, are in fact fertility symbols. Back in the times before Christ, people celebrated the thawing of winter and warming of spring by presenting their offerings to the goddess.
The Sun Is Born Again
In antiquity the theme of resurrection centred around the single source of light and energy known to humans the sun. As the season of spring warmed the earth, the people believed it to be a resurrection of the primary energy source. This was celebrated in cultures all around the world, including the Egyptian and the Mayan traditions.
The Roving Date
One of the reasons for Easter’s roving date is that it coincides with the arrival of spring. There are many rituals that have carried over from this ancient celebration to the more modern version that is a reminder of sacrifice and abstinence.