This post was taken from “The Women’s Encyclopedia Of Myths And Secrets” by Barbara G. Walker.
Easter was originally a springtime festival named for the Saxon Goddess Eostre, or Ostara, a northern form of Astarte. Her sacred month was Eastremonath, the Moon of Eostre.The Easter Bunny is older than Christianity; It was the Moonhare sacred to the Goddess in both eastern and western nations.Recalling the myth of Hathor-Astarte who laid the Golden Egg of the sun, Germans used to say the hare would lay eggs for good chldren on Easter Eve.
Like all the church’s “moveable feasts” , Easter shows its pagan roots origin in a dating system based on the old lunar calendar. It is fixed as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, formerly the “pregnant phase” of Eostre passing into the fertile season. The Christian festival wasn’t called Easter until the Goddess’s name was given to it in the late middle ages.
The Pagans began their solar New Year at the spring equinox, and up to the middle of the 18th century they still followed the old custom of presenting each other with colored eggs on the occasion. Eggs were always symbols of rebirth, which is why Easter eggs were usually colored red—the life-color— especially in eastern Europe.Russians used to lay red Easter eggs on graves to serve as resurrection charms. Village girls like ancient priestesses in Bohemia sacrificed The Lord of Death and threw him into water, singing,”Death swims in the water, spring comes to visit us, with eggs that are red, with yellow pancakes, we carried Death out of the village, we are carrying Summer into the village.”
Another remnant of the pagan sacred drama was the image of the god buried in his tomb, then withdrawn and said to live again.. The church instituted such a custom early early in the Middle Ages, apparently in hopes of a reported miracle. A small sepulchral building having been erected and the consecrate host placed within, a priest was set to watch it from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Then the host was taken out and displayed, and the congregation was told Christ was risen.
Germany applied to Easter the same title formerly given to the season of the sacred king’s love-death, Hoch-Zeit, “the High Time”. In English too, Easter used to be called the Hye-.” Tide”. From these titles came the colloquial description of any festival holiday as “a high old time.”