Exploring Origins of Common Easter Symbols

Easter Symbols and Meanings

Easter Symbols and Meanings

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Ever wondered how a bunny became the mascot for Easter? Or why eggs are such a big deal this time of year? Many Easter traditions can be traced back to ancient history. Here are a few Easter symbols and their origins you might find interesting.

Rabbits: Bunnies are big Easter symbols of fertility and renewal. It’s no wonder, considering their powers of reproduction. But rabbits were (and still are) synonymous with spring. Easter is a time of both renewal and rebirth which is why rabbits are prevalent during this holiday. Rabbits are also associated with Easter because of the ancient German fertility goddess named Eostre. According to old Germanic folklore, Eostre was always accompanied by lots of bunnies. In some accounts, Eostre had the head of a rabbit but this was likely confused with the Egyptian goddess Wenet. At any rate, rabbits were a sacred symbol for Eostre. She and her bunnies were celebrated this time of year with a fertility festival to acknowledge spring, rebirth, and renewal.

Eggs: There are varying versions of the myth of Eostre. One version reports that this fertility goddess originally had a bird as her constant companion. This time of year when spring returns, Eostre was said to change her bird into a magical rabbit who laid eggs to amuse the children. This is one of the first known stories about bunnies bearing eggs. Whether laid by bunnies or bluebirds, eggs are epic symbols of renewal and fertility. Eggs are also integral to the mythology of many cultures, symbolizing life and new beginnings.

Lily: The Easter lily got its name because the beautiful white flowers bloom this time of year. Lilies are symbolic of purity, perfection, and goodness. They are also Easter symbols of the resurrection of spring & life. If you think about it, lilies are a remarkable illustration of death and rebirth. They grow from a bulb that is ‘buried’ in the ground, seemingly dormant or dead. Then they are reborn (so to speak) when the flowers burst alive during Easter time.

Easter Basket: The advent of the Easter basket seems like a no-brainer. I mean, how else are folks supposed to gather eggs laid by rabbits this time of year? But the origin threads back to ancient Germanic folklore, and back to the goddess of rebirth, Eostre. As mentioned, her bunnies laid eggs to entertain the children during spring/Easter. Children would craft nests and leave them out so Eostre’s bunnies could lay colorful eggs in them on Easter eve. Over time, the nests morphed into the Easter baskets we see today.

No matter what your religion or faith is, sometimes it’s fun to take a look at history to find answers. I hope you found this brief about Easter symbols interesting! Check out my other articles below for more Easter meanings and origins.

Wishing you all a very happy Easter!

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