Easter is originally a celebration of spring with lots of pagan/indigenous influences. Easter (in German called “Ostern”) got its name from the goddess Ēostre or Ostara who was the pagan goddess of spring and a Germanic divinity.
Originally Easter feasts were in Eostre’s honor, but this tradition died out and was replaced by the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.
The Bible doesn’t mention long-eared, short-tailed creatures that deliver decorated eggs to children on Easter Sunday. Nevertheless, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity’s most important holiday. The exact origins of this mythical being are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific procreators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life.
Some scholars have linked customs and imagery involving hares to Ēostre and goddess Freyja. Freya is a (Germanic/ Scandinavian) goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold and shamanic rituals. The hare is also seen as the companion of Aphrodite and of fauns and cupids…
Easter is a religious holiday, but some of its customs, such as Easter eggs, are linked to pagan traditions. The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection (symbolising the opening, transition and life).
Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century, according to some sources. One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season (Lent is a special time of prayer, reflection, fasting and good works in preparation of the celebration of Easter), so people would paint and decorate eggs to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration.
In Poland and other Slavic countries the folk tradition presents a decorating process known as Pisanka which produces intricate, brilliantly-colored eggs. And the Russian jewellery house Fabergé became famous for designing elaborate jewel-encrusted Fabergé eggs. The tradition of the Tsar giving his Empress a surprise Easter egg by Carl Fabergé started around 1885, when Tsar Alexander III commissioned the House of Fabergé to make an Easter egg as a gift for his wife, the Empress Maria Fedorovna.
If we go deeper into mysticism and alchemy we also find the so called Alchemical Egg, a symbol for magical realisation. In the book Alchemy by Marie Louise von Franz (Jung’s closest student/disciple) we read this description:
“The ‘Ovum Philosophicum’, which can be translated as the philosophical or alchemical egg, is the principal vessel used in alchemical operations. During the alchemical process, the material, hermetically sealed in the egg, is put through a symbolic death and rebirth. When the egg was cracked, a new mystical substance emerged which was an elixir that prolonged life and acted as a catalyst capable of improving any substance that it came in contact with. This substance, called the Philosopher’s Stone, could change lead into gold and change an ordinary person into an enlightened master.”
There is also the Sacred Egg of Heliopolis (linked to sun god Ra) and the Cosmic Egg: One of the earliest ideas of an ‘egg-shaped cosmos’ comes from some of the ancient Sanskrit scriptures. The Sanskrit term for it is Brahmanda (brahm means ‘the biggest’/’the universe’, anda/andam means ‘egg’, hence Brahmanda means Cosmic Egg, signifying the life from which the Universe is born). Certain Puranas such as the Brahmanda Purana speak of this in detail. The Rig Veda uses a similar expression for the source of the universe: Hiranyagarbha, which means ‘golden egg’ or ‘golden womb’ (check: the hymn of the Rigveda RV 10.121 known as the Hiranyagarbha sukta and Manusmrti 1.9).
A: Alchemical Egg (Jamsthaler, Viatorium Spagyricum, 1625); B: Brahmanda/Brahma’s “Golden Egg”: The Upanishads calls it the Soul of the Universe or Brahman, and elaborates that Hiranyagarbha floated around in the darkness of non-existence and then broke into two halves which formed Swarga (Heaven) and Prithvi (Earth)…; C: Depiction of Prajapati (engraving, ca. 1850): Prajapati is a Vedic deity presiding over procreation, and the protection of life. He appears as a creator deity or supreme god.; D: Celestial Egg as shown in MONAS HIEROGLYPHICA, ‘The Hieroglyphic Monad’ by Dr. John Dee.