Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to participate in Easter egg hunts because my mother considered the activity worship to a pagan god. Even now, as I filled Easter eggs for my children for this upcoming Resurrection Day, my mother opposed the ritual saying it was against God. Now, she never knew which god it was that these eggs were symbols of, she thought it was a fertility goddess. Turns out she was right for thinking it, but wrong for believing it.
“Easter first started out as a celebration of the Spring Equinox: a time when all of nature is awakened from the slumber of winter and the cycle of renewal begins. Anglo-Saxon pagans celebrated this time of rebirth by invoking Ēostre or Ostara, the goddess of spring, the dawn, and fertility.” (Source: Easter May Have Started out as a Sex Ritual and Here’s Why (theculturetrip.com))
Eostre is all over the internet. Everyone has a slightly different perception of her origin and how she ties into the egg tradition. Take, for example, this suggestion whose source is the Food Network:
“Easter eggs potentially stem from a pagan myth surrounding the goddess Eostre, who revived a dying bird and turned it into the iconic egg-laying rabbit, who in turn gifted Eostre with colorful eggs (via Food Network Canada).”
The only documented connection between Eostre and eggs is by one single man: an English monk named Venerable Bede. And even in that document, he only mentions her name in association with the celebration of the Spring Equinox (Source: Bede, on ‘Eostre’ (tertullian.org))
In an article on Haaretz.com (a Jewish online newspaper published in Israel but translated to English online) tries to pinpoint an exact origin of the decorating of eggs that Christians do on Easter based on how the Jews use the egg in celebration of the Passover. Author Elon Gilad suggests the tradition could have Slavic or Mesopotamian origin.
The point is…the Christian tradition of decorating eggs and hunting plastic eggs filled with candy has no direct, documented origin.
Jewish Seder May be the True Origin
“The Passover Seder is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of the Passover. It is conducted throughout the world on the eve of the 15th day of Nisan (April) in the Hebrew calendar.” (Source: Passover Seder – Wikipedia)
The hard-boiled egg in the Seder is used to symbolize the mourning of the fallen temple of sacrifice in Jerusalem. During the Seder, the egg is cracked and peeled and dipped in saltwater that represents tears of mourning for their sacred temple had fallen. But, as Susan from Jews for Jesus said in a recent sermon at Abundant Life where she taught the Seder tradition, the egg now represents the beautiful resurrection of the Temple as it was rebuilt in three days. Sounds the most familiar to Easter, huh?
You can watch the full sermon of the Jewish Seder tradition here: Jews for Jesus Explains Christ in the Passover — Abundant Life (livingproof.co)
Taking it Back to Jesus
Just as Christians did with the pagan holiday of Halloween, we’re taking back the pagan idea of Easter belonging to a fertility goddess. Instead of worshipping the eggs or the season, we’re celebrating the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And we’re going to use the egg as a symbol of life. That our God is not dead in the tomb; he is alive in Heaven.
From a child’s perspective, I always thought the egg hunt was a fun activity. Like pin the tail on the donkey or sack races. Easter eggs are the child’s way of participating in the celebration of the holiday. Perhaps your children are young and simply don’t understand the holiday quite yet. Or perhaps they’re older and understand it, but aren’t sure how to celebrate it. The eggs are their opportunity to feel apart of the festivity. And your children only know the eggs for what you teach them the eggs represent. If you don’t teach them to use the eggs for Christ, the world will teach them that the eggs are for a false idol.
At our Easters, we have a special egg that contains a Cross. Whereas most people use money as incentives, we decided to do a hunt for the Most Special Egg of All. The Most Special Egg containing the Cross keeps the egg hunt Christ-centered by teaching the kids that candy is good, but Jesus is the true reward. Perhaps you can incorporate something of the sort for your egg hunt!
Amazon sells a set of plastic eggs that are decorated with Crosses for Resurrection Day. Each egg comes with a piece of the story from Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday, which is an awesome way of keeping the hunt Scripture-focused. You can buy the eggs here:
Let’s take Easter back to Jesus. No matter where Easter eggs came from, all that matters is they’re going to point the glory back to God. It’s all in the matter of how you use them to celebrate and indoctrinate your children.
Happy Resurrection Day, brothers and sisters in Christ!
How do you and your family celebrate with eggs on Resurrection Sunday? Drop a comment. Bonus for comments with pictures!