By JESSE PARHAM
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — Ever wonder about the origins of certain holiday related characters such as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny? Santa is pretty easy, everybody knows about ol’ Saint Nick and how his story came to be, but what about the Easter Bunny? What about Easter in general? We all know it has something to do with the Christian faith, the rebirth of Jesus Christ, but is there not more to the story?
Sara VanSteenbergen, diversity education graduate assistant, said she thought there was more to the story and decided to do some investigating of her own. The result was the Origins of Easter event hosted April 12 in the Elliott Student Union.
I’ll admit, there were even some facts that surprised me, like how the Easter Bunny we all know and love has Germanic origins. Apparently, before they had this egg-loving rabbit they didn’t really have much more of a symbol for the holiday than the Holy Spirit himself. In 18th century Germany there were some Protestant Germans that told their children about a certain “Oschter Haws” (aka the Easter Hare – he was originally a hare, not a rabbit) that would visit the homes of good children and lay baskets of colorful eggs for them. How a male hare could lay eggs is something they apparently never decided to explain.
Sara also talked about the origins of the name “Easter,” a certain Saxon fertility Goddess named “Eostre.” This was of course during the period when Christianity was slowly including certain pagan beliefs with their own holidays. Fun fact, the hare was a sacred beast for this Eostre character, and she was known as a goddess of spring and dawn – again with the theme of rebirth.
Moving away from Goddesses and egg-laying hares, another factoid that was explained was why Easter is never really on the same day. A man of the Vatican is given the job of watching the stars, and once the spring Equinox passes, he gives the go ahead that the next first Sunday afterward is going to be Easter.
Before I let everyone go to learn some more about the holiday itself how about we talk about why we paint eggs on Easter? Originally, they only painted the eggs red, as to represent the blood of Christ, but just one color can be boring so I’m glad they eventually included so many bright combinations.
Happy Easter everyone. And if it is already over for everyone, I hope that everybody got a basket of goodies from Oschter Haws!