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Origins of Easter: The Female Influences

Origins of Easter includes goddess Ostara

Happy Easter! Easter began as a way to rejoice about the Spring Equinox. The origins of Easter also have many female connections, the details of which may surprise you. Let’s begin with goddess Ostara, also known as Ēostre. Then we’ll talk about Mary Magdalene.

Goddess Ostara

For Anglo-Saxon pagans, Easter marked a time to celebrate the German goddess Ostara or Ēostre. Ēostre is said to have inspired the name “Easter.” Now you see why I wanted to mention her in this origins of Easter post!

Not only was she the goddess of Spring, but also of the dawn and fertility. Without fertility and sex, there would be no future generations, so this ritual to Ostara was not to be understated. Back then science didn’t provide them with egg freezing and they didn’t know all of the natural ways to boost fertility that we know now.

Thus, the pagans held feasts to rejoice the goddess and festivals to celebrate fertility throughout the April month. For Ostara represented the rebirth of nature in Spring. And, yes, sex rituals happened too. Mind you, there wasn’t the shame associated with sex back then that some people experience today.

The Easter Bunny

Oh, and you know that hare that we call the Easter bunny, which is such a beloved part of the holiday nowadays? Of all the goddesses, Ostara most closely links with the hare. And the hare symbolized fertility, like Ostara.

Today, the Easter bunny delivers eggs to many children on the morning of the holiday. The Easter Bunny itself was delivered to America by Germans, as per History.com.

Origins of Easter: The Egg

As for the egg that is synonymous with Easter? Think about how the chicken lays an egg. While the story of Easter is that it is a bunny laying an egg, it’s still an egg that represents rebirth. The egg symbolizes fertility and life, although we don’t see what’s within the egg. It shows the potential for a new life and it is women who give birth.

The egg symbolizes fertility in a subtle way. That’s is comparison to the big historic celebrations.

Even the activity of coloring the egg links with the concept of birth. And that dates back before modern religion. Decorating eggs was part of the Persian tradition Nowruz. Years later, in 1873, the chocolate Easter egg was first made in Britain.

While the Easter bunny is a key part of the Christian holiday today, there’s no mention of the bunny in the Bible. Christians likely adopted the pagan traditions and, as with most things, the activities changed over time.

But the Bible does describe though is Jesus’s rebirth, a symbol of nature’s rebirth in Spring. And there was Mary Magdalene. So, how does she fit into the origins of Easter?

Mary Magdalene

It was at the foot of the cross that St. Mary Magdalene cried until Jesus Christ died. With great pain, she went to Jesus’s tomb at the first sign of light the next day. And it was in reward for her love that Jesus appeared Easter morning.

In addition to her pivitol role in Jesus’s rebirth, Mary Madalene was also the first to see him. She then told the 12 Apostles what she’d seen. She would go on to be a trailblazer and forever be sacred by the Christian Church.

Also, when she went before Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar to announce Jesus’s resurection, she was holding an egg to him. “Christ is risen!” she said. Aha, there’s mention of an Easter egg with reference to female Mary Magdalene.

True, we don’t know for certain that her holding the egg happened. But we do know this: at Easter today the Christian tradition is to hand out eggs.

Conclusions on Women and the Origins of Easter

In summary, women were a big part of the origins of Easter. From goddess Ostara or Ēostre and Mary Magdalene to the symbol of the egg, there are many examples of women’s influence on Easter.

Do you celebrate Easter? If so, what are some of your family traditions? Which women inspire you at Easter?

55 thoughts on “Origins of Easter: The Female Influences”

    1. Wonderful to hear your Easter weekend is going well, Kevin! Raining today and we desperately need rain so that’s a good thing :) Glad you’re having nice weather over there for egg hunts and more.

  1. Hey Christy,
    I went to church for almost 20 yrs & if memory serves Mary Magdalene wasn’t mentioned at Easter services…maybe it was just the churches didn’t want to recognize that someone else wanted to help celebrate that Jesus was risen 😞

    Good post Christy,I enjoyed reading it twice 😏

    1. If she wasn’t given mention at the churches you went to then it’s good I’ve spotlighted her here now, Pete! Sometimes certain passages of the Bible are mentioned more than others. Oooh a second read? That’s a great compliment, my friend!

  2. This was so interesting!! It would be amazing if you did a collection of goddess posts! We are finally entering a time where there is a resurgance of knowledge around the female narrative that had been removed from historical texts. Your post is a great example of this!

  3. Wonderful facts about a sacred holiday, Christy, thank you for sharing. Because the risen Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene first and told her to go and tell, she became His first apostle. Her influence in our early church is underestimated. Happy Easter! 💜🐣

    1. She was celebrating and sharing the news that He had risen ~ such an important message! Thanks for recognizing her in your glorious comment, Terri :) Easter smiles to you!

  4. Good to know that some of us know the true meaning of the origins of Easter. Thank you, Christy, for this post. And no, I no longer celebrate Easter on one certain day. Same for Christmas …. I incorporate the “meaning” of these holidays into my every day life. Much Love to you! 🦋🦋🦋

    1. How beautiful that you celebrate the spirit of Easter and Christmas throughout the year, AmyRose :) That’s spreading so much kindness and joy ~ hoorah for that xo Love to you too!

  5. Happy Easter, Christy! Very inspiring article, with a lot of things i never heared/ read before. The other side of the coin, with the sad story of Jesus. Best wishes, Michael.
    However women are always inspiring. ;-) As I read at Dolly’s koolkosherkitchen, women inventend brewing of beer, and Cleopatra was the first creator of a beer tax. Lol

    1. Women’s accomplishments to beer are something I just learned about through you and Dolly! It’s amazing the things we learn :D Happy Easter, Michael!

    2. So true, Christy! Just discussed it with my mom. You can read only to get information, or you can get this information by communication with real people. ;-) Best wishes for the week ! Michael

    3. Haha yes, book knowledge and real world knowledge – both are necessary! I send kind thoughts your way as you go out into the world and make a positive difference, my friend :)

  6. Interesting info on various stories associated with Easter. “Break this frame and I shall rise again in three days”. What matters is not breakage but flowering of hope denoting eternal life. Here is wishing you happy Easter.

  7. This was such a fun read! I love the part about Ēostre and that makes so much sense. And Mary Magdalene. She’s one of my favorite historical characters, also associated with the Divine Feminine. And it was my curiosity about the Divine Feminine in my early 20s that helped spark the beginnings of the spiritual journey I’m on today. Ah, how things are so connected and related. I love it. I wish you a wonderful weekend. Thinking of you as you plan out your wedding, too! Sending you big hugs and lots of love from across borders and countries. 💖

    1. OK so I’ve got to ask: Would you come guest post about divine feminine energy? I know you have a lot on your plate C., but I had to ask. No pressure! And I’m so glad you liked the post; the Twitter share was awesome :) Aw, wedding planning is going well, thanks! I ordered the dress yesterday woohoo <3

    2. Sweet Christy – I’ll do it! Meant to respond earlier, but life is a wee bit busy. Would toward the end of May/early June work?

    3. I’m always cheering you on so you just let me know when works for you for that guest post. The offer never runs out :) I believe you already have my email. Reach out when you have time and we’ll get the ball rolling. I’m glad you’re busy and hope life is good for you and family xo

  8. Why do I feel like I’ve never even heard of Ostara or Ēostre before? That’s crazy, considering her rather huge influence in Easter! Fascinating post, very eye-opening as I hadn’t even known about the reference to Magdalene holding an egg out to Caesar! x

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