Happy Easter

The Easter Bunny and Easter eggs are the result of an unfortunately clumsy hybrid of pre-Christian mythology with Protestant Germanic culture. Easter, like Christmas, Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day, and Lent itself, are modern versions of fertility festivals that date back to the discovery of agriculture and the domestication of animals in Neolithic times. Rabbits and hares have always been symbols of sexuality for their prodigious reproductive powers. In various mythological systems, eggs are signifiers of both fertility and rebirth, and appear in various creation myths. Given the primordial linkage between Spring as the conjunction of sexuality/fertility and purity/rebirth, the conflation of rabbits and eggs, strange as it may seem biologically, makes perfect sense mythologically. In antiquity hares were actually considered a hermaphrodite-type animal with the power of parthenogenesis (asexual reproduction). The celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection fits into the structure of Spring festivals and thus assimilates pre-Christian symbolism but it is important to note that the Easter Bunny is a particularly Protestant amalgamation of pagan mythology in Germanic and Anglo-American culture. Most Christian cultures name the holyday from the Hebrew word for Passover as it was translated to Aramaic, Greek and Latin and into modern languages (e.g., French Pâques, Italian Pasqua, Spanish Pascua). David Sedaris shows us the difficulty of explaining this most strange of “Christian” symbols in his essay “Jesus Shaves.” Happy Easter!