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What Does Easter Mean To You?

Easter is a really interesting holiday.

It means very different things to different people. If you’re a Christian, it’s associated with the resurrection story, where Jesus supposedly rose from the dead. If you’re a kid, it probably involves a bunny pooping out chocolate eggs – essentially a clever marketing ploy by the chocolate industry to make us eat more chocolate (and it works!).

But the reality is that the concept Easter is far more ancient than either the resurrection story or the marketing campaigns of the chocolate industry.

Most cultures have traditions and celebrations around the changing of the seasons, the cycle of death and rebirth, and Easter has its roots in those traditions. From the death and rebirth of Ianna in Sumarian mythology (remarkably similar to the Christian resurrection story), to the Goddess of Spring, Eostre, in Nordic tradition, these stories were associated with death and renewal, with the passing of winter and the beginning of spring.

And it made sense back then when we were living more in tune with our natural rhythms. There was no guarantee when and if the seasons would actually change and our lives depended on a fertile season in spring, whether you were a hunter gatherer or a farmer. So these traditions were taken very seriously. There may even have been a sacrifice or two made to ensure that Ianna or Eostre came on time (pardon the pun).

And we can identify with that feeling of uncertainty and anxiousness today, even with all of our knowledge that the seasons are just a factor of the earth’s rotation around the sun. After a long, dark winter (particularly in Northern Europe), just the sight of first the snow drops, then the crocuses, and then the daffodils, somehow makes us feel more alive and energised.

Certainly a good thing to be celebrated.


But where did the chocolate pooping bunny come from?

There are also certain animals and symbols associated with these rebirth and renewal traditions.

For example, rabbits and hares were associated with the Spring goddess Eostre. They symbolised the coming of spring, and they certainly are pretty fertile little guys!

In Germanic mythology, Eostre is said to have healed a wounded bird she found in the woods by changing it into a hare. Still partially a bird, the hare thanked the goddess by laying eggs for her.

The egg has long been a symbol of fertility and renewal, which goes back to the ancient Egyptians and Persians, who had also the custom of colouring and eating eggs during their spring festival. In ancient Egypt, an egg symbolised the sun, while for the Babylonians, the egg represents the hatching of the Venus Ishtar, who fell from heaven to the Euphrates, part of the Fertile Crescent.

So bunny pooping eggs. Check!

It was only one small step for some bright spark to figure out that they could make money by selling chocolate eggs at Easter (a bit like what they did to the Valentine’s holiday, and later Christmas). Apparently, it originated in Germany and was brought to the US by German immigrants, after which it exploded into the ‘tradition’ of giving our kids an overdose of chocolate in celebration of renewal and fertility.

Makes sense, right?


Getting back to the true meaning of Easter

Part of why we are suffering as a society from numerous lifestyle related diseases is that we have moved so far from the natural rhythms we evolved with. Everything is about convenience and commercialism and it’s making us sicker and sicker.

The Easter tradition is about recognising the seasonality of our lives and celebrating it. Our bodies evolved to live with these seasons, but with all of our modern ‘conveniences’ we don’t really experience the natural seasons any more. We have an abundance of every kind of food, all year round, without ever experiencing any scarcity. We don’t even have to expend any physical effort to get our food any more. We used to have to hunt and gather our food. Now it’s delivered to our door. Sometimes we don’t even need to cook it!

And our sleeping patterns, which used to be dictated by the rhythm of the sun, are completely disrupted by artificial light, including from the screens of our various devices.

So what can we do to start celebrating our natural seasons, in this case the change from winter to spring?

Well, here are a few ideas:

  • Celebrate the Easter tradition of rebirth and fertility by painting some, hard-boiled, eggs (like the ancient Persians did), and ideally eat them afterwards (assuming you’ve used natural, non-toxic dye to paint them);
  • Get together with friends for a wholesome meal to celebrate the end of winter and the coming of a new fertile season.
  • Give thanks that we have made it through another winter, with all of the blessings we have received.
  • Go for a nice walk in nature and appreciate the cyclical nature of life. Listen to the spring birds and hopefully catch a glimpse of the easter bunny (or hare).
  • Get some morning light into your eyes, now that the sun is getting up a bit earlier!


We celebrate holidays for a reason. Before they got hijacked by organised religion and corporate interests, they symbolised the natural rhythms of life – seasonality and renewal. They gave our ancestors hope and a reason to celebrate and give thanks together.

That’s the true meaning of Easter.

Not some chocolate pooping bunny!