The Easter Bunny has become a staple of the Christian holiday of Easter. However, few realize that this legend has its roots in the Pagan practices of the Anglo-Saxon people. Their celebration of the goddess Eostre gave rise to the modern legend of the Eostre of Ostara Bunny, also called the Easter Bunny.
The Origins of the Easter Bunny Legend
Eostre was the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility. Her festival was the Spring Equinox, and it was around this time that many of the local animals gave birth or entered their reproductive cycles (called ‘estrus’ periods in honor of Eostre). The woodland animals, devotees of Eostre, would bask in the warmth of spring and feast on the season’s bounty of spring greens.
Among these animals was a small hare who wished to present his goddess with a gift, but he had nothing of value to offer. One day while foraging for food, the hare came upon an egg. He much desired to eat this egg, for it had been some time since he had feasted on anything better than grass. Just before he cracked the small object, the hare thought that the egg might make a nice gift for the goddess Eostre.
Upon reflection, however, he realized that, as a goddess, she could have eggs any time she wished. His egg was nothing special. It was not fit for a goddess. The hare took his egg home, determined to make it beautiful. He began to decorate it, painting it in Eostre’s colors and adding symbols sacred to her and to spring. When he was satisfied, he presented his creation to the goddess.
Eostre was so impressed by this small gift that she wanted to share it with the children of the world. Children were the greatest symbol of new life, and so of spring, so she felt it was only appropriate that they be the ones to share in her gift. She ordered her hares and rabbits to deliver decorated eggs to the world’s children every spring. Eostre’s Bunnies, as they came to be called, did this with joy.
The Enduring Legacy of Eostre
Today, children around the world decorate Eostre’s Eggs, or some variation thereof. Many followers of the world’s Christian religions create Easter Eggs to celebrate the resurrection of their savior, Jesus Christ. Wiccan and Pagan children decorate Ostara Eggs to welcome warmth back to the earth. There are dozens of other similar traditions around the world.
All of these have a common theme — the celebration of life, death, and rebirth. Eostre and her Bunnies , as well as the Easter egg hunt, have become a part of spring throughout the world, sometimes even for those who do not realize it.
Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.