The Christian holiday Easter celebrates the day Prophet Jesus (a) was raised into the divine presence. Obviously, according to the Christian belief this occurred after Jesus died on the cross, whereas according to Islam this occurred without Jesus dying or being put on a cross. The Quran clearly states: “…they did not kill him [jesus] or crucify him, but so it was made to appear to them…” (4:157)
Many Christians celebrate Easter utilising the symbol of a bunny rabbit and hiding eggs. This begs the question, what does a bunny rabbit or an egg have to do with Jesus being raised into the divine presence? Christians scholars state the rabbit was associated with virgin birth because the ancient Greeks believed virgin rabbits would give birth at spring and therefore was associated with Holy Mary. Furthermore, eggs symbolise life and, according to Christian belief, Jesus rose from the dead to life. But, let’s examine a bit further…
The Goddess of Spring in West Germanic mythology is Eostre, or Eastre in Old English. Adolf Holtzmann was the first scholar to make the connection between the Goddess of Spring and rabbits. In the book Deutsche Mythologie, Holtzmann writes: “The Easter rabbit is inexplicable to me, but the rabbit was the sacred animal of Eostre. Charles Elton, at late 19th century academic, numerous folk customs during the beginning of spring with rabbits. Another academic, Charles Willson, stated: “the sacredness of this animal [rabbit] reaches back into an age still more remote, where it is probably a very important part of the great spring festival in prehistoric time.”
What about eggs? Overlooking further research into Eostre who apparently transformed an egg-laying bird into a rabbit, many pre-Christian societies associated eggs with spring and new life. Therefore, eggs and rabbits were a European custom which were used to celebrate the beginning of spring.
It is interesting that cultural celebrations of spring have entered into religious commemoration; rabbits and eggs with Christianity and Nowruz celebrations in Islam. What are your thoughts on this? Feel free to comment below.
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