Can you give me information about the pagan origins of Easter traditions?

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Concerning the pagan origins of Easter celebrations, here's a couple of paragraphs I found on an ancient history website:

Fertility Goddesses

The word Easter itself is likely derived from Eostre, the Saxon mother goddess, whose name in turn was adapted from Eastre, an ancient word for spring. The Norse equivalent of Eostre was the goddess Ostara, whose symbols were an egg and a hare, both denoting fertility. Festivals honoring these goddesses were celebrated on or around the vernal equinox, and even today, when Easter has supposedly been Christianized, the date of the holiday falls according to rather pagan reckonings, i.e. on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

Bunnies, Eggs and Lilies

Rabbits, of course, are a potent symbol of fertility due to their prodigious output of young. Eggs, likewise, have always been considered representative of new life, fertility, and reincarnation. Painted eggs, thought to imitate the bright sunlight and gaily colored flowers of spring, have been used in rituals since the days of the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians. Lilies were also seen as fertility symbols because of their perceived resemblance to male genitalia. Even hot cross buns, associated with Lent, derive from the ancient Greeks and Romans, who baked “magic” wheat cakes with crosses scored in the top; two of these cakes were discovered in the ruins of Herculaneum, which was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE.

While some might find the connection between Easter and pagan celebrations and rituals a negative connection, it doesn't necessarily have to be seen that way.  First, the term pagan does not have any negative connotations in itself.  For the most part, it just refers to a worship of and love for nature.  Groups tend to use it to refer to any group other than themselves, so it's become a pejorative, but it doesn't have to be.  For instance, anyone that isn't Christian may be called a pagan by a Christian.  The same may be true for Islamic and Judaic followers.   

Second, the culmination of traditions from multiple societies and cultures and times in one modern celebration, is a positive and attractive aspect of Easter, not a negative characteristic.  What could be better? 

Easter doesn't have to celebrate just one tradition, does it?

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