(reprinted from last year)
Many people now know that Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter are tied to pagan celebrations of cosmological events such as the solstices and equinoxes. Easter, a holiday that commemorates the time that Jesus supposedly rose from the tomb, was originally connected to both the Equinox and the full moon since it originally occurred on the first Sunday after the first Full Moon following the Vernal Equinox.
This was likely calculated from observation of the full moon at first, but because the date derived from the actual full moon coincided with the Jewish celebration of Passover. For centuries the early Church leaders squabbled over a method to determine the date for Easter and ultimately created a table of “ecclesiastical” full moons for which to calculate a date for Easter in an unbelievably complex method.
I personally believe that the practice of dating Christian “feast days” to coincide with pagan magical points such as the solstices and equinoxes and moons goes beyond a simple desire to convert the pagans; it is quite likely that the early church fathers were aware of the power of these planetary events that connect us to a greater sense of cosmological wonder and utilized them to their advantage. At the Vernal Equinox we celebrate the resurrection of Spring, and for centuries preChristian peoples celebrated the resurrection of their dying gods at the Equinox. Dionysos, Tammuz, Adonis and Attis were all gods whose rebirth was celebrated as the Spring brought the return of fertility to the land. It is this fertility connection to Easter that brings us the Easter bunny, whose capacity to become impregnated with a second litter while bearing the first makes it a perfect symbol for fertility.
And the name Easter? This name comes directly from the Saxon fertility goddess Eostre or Ostara, who was depicted with hares and whose festival was celebrated at the spring Full Moon.