04 April 2010

Chickens, eggs, and bunnies... a pagan celebration

It's impossible to go to a discount store or a grocery store and not see displays filled with Chocolate Easter bunnies, or chickens, or even eggs. What in the world do bunnies, chickens, and eggs have to do with Easter? Absolutely nothing. But bunnies, chickens, and eggs have a lot to do with the pagan celebration of the season of renewal and rebirth.

Which usually takes place around the same time as Easter. The celebration is for the return of the goddess Persephone. She was tricked into marrying Hades, god of the underworld, and because of this marriage she must live in the underworld with Hades part of the year. When she leaves this realm of existence to be with Hades everything goes brown and dies (winter.) And everything remains dormant until her return in the spring, then everything starts coming back to life.

And this is where the bunnies, chickens and eggs come in. Throughout the winter people guarded their food closely. Chickens could not be counted on to lay eggs everyday. Rabbits weren't mating. It was cold and dark and winter put a lot of fear in people.

But then spring came. Chickens started laying eggs... a lot of eggs. Rabbits started mating again. The ground came to life and seeds could be planted providing people with more food later in the year.

It was a time to celebrate. The earth had come back to life. The eggs that were so guarded during the winter months were plentiful and children, as well as adults, could eat all they wanted. And the eggs became a symbol of “renewal and rebirth” as did the rabbit and the chicken...

I worked at a Lutheran (Missouri Synod) Church for eight years and every Easter the church had a family celebration in its Fellowship Hall. Candy was there... but nowhere would you find a chicken, a bunny, or an egg... because they weren't symbols of Easter... but rather the pagan celebration of renewal and rebirth.

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