Pagan Roots of Easter Customs: Here Comes Ol’ Cottontail….

Easter Bunnies, Eggs, Flowers and Chicks

Beltane is also called Eostre and much of our Easter traditions are based on those of this Pagan Fire Festival. When the early Christians set out to convert the Pagans, they discovered conversion was easier if they adopted Pagan customs and traditions. Easter is tied into Beltane because it is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal or spring equinox.

Rabbits* are symbols of fertility. According to Stephanie and Philip Carr-Gomm, rabbit also signifies intuition, rebirth, promise, fulfillment, and balance. It is the Goddess’ creature and represents the Moon, night and dawn. It is also associated with abundance, rebirth and release.

Eggs symbolize fertility. In the mid 1900s, children would get rabbits and chicks as gifts

for Easter. The cock,** in Celtic tradition, has connections to the Underworld. The bird drove off the evil night spirits and ghost by crowing at dawn.

Each flower has special meanings. March’s flowers are the jonquil and violet. Jonquils symbolize affection is being returned. White violets symbolize candor and violet, modesty. April’s flowers are daisies and sweet peas. Daisies are symbolic of innocence and sweet peas, thinking of the person.

Traditional Easter Dinner

The traditional meats for this holiday are ham and lamb. Lamb symbolizes innocence and Jesus Christ. The Last Supper was the Seder celebration and featured lamb. During the original Passover, Moses had said that all of the young males not of Jewish heritage would die, the final curse of God on Pharaoh, which would pave the way for the Exodus.

The Jews put lamb’s blood on their doors so the spirit of death would pass over their homes and their boys would be safe.

The meat of the pig is cured and keeps well over the winter. Boars*are wild members of the pig family. To the Druids, boar symbolizes leadership, direction, the warrior spirit. Boar represents the Goddess and inspires creativity. Boar gives energy and courage. Sow* represents nourishment, generosity, fertility, abundance and discovery and is also associated with the Goddess.

Ham and other preserved meats were eaten at Beltane to celebrate the arrival of the growing season and the fact that fresh meat would soon be available.

Eating greens, asparagus and other early vegetables are of both Jewish and Pagan traditions. Root vegetables and cabbage store well. Some vegetables such as cabbage and cucumbers are pickled and/or fermented to preserve for the winter. Soon, the people will plant seeds for fresh vegetables and celebrate the first harvest on Lughnasa, August 2nd.

*Carr-Gomm, Philip and Stephanie, The Druid Animal Oracle, 1994, New York: Simon & Schuster. These are meditative cards featuring the Druid symbolism of selected animals and four dragons accompanied by a book explaining the symbolism and how to lay the cards out. The art work is compelling and beautiful. The Carr-Gomms are experts in things Celtic and Druid.

**Conway, D. J., Animal Magick. ISBN: 1-56718-168-6. D. J. Conway has written books about Celtic Magick and this book about aminal symbolism. In addition to information about the Celtic meanings, she also writes about the meanings in other cultures.

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