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Which Came First, Easter, or the Easter Bunny?

2019, Apr 15 | A Practice For Spring

– I love Easter, even though religion is not my thing. In fact, my devotion to the holiday began recently when I discovered that the origins of the holiday are steeped in nature relatedness, not Christianity.  So nowadays I see those few precious days off (lucky us in Europe!) as an opportunity to get out and hike, hike, hike over hills and dales.  Here´s why…

Spoiler alert, the bunny DID come first.

Looking skywards on early spring nights, ancient folklore (that predates Christianity) tells us that people in India, Africa, Mexico and China all saw a rabbit in the face of the moon. The shape of the rabbit is drawn by the ´seas´ of the moon. What we perceive as water are craters formed by volcanic eruptions, but to stargazing eyes they were great seas of fecundity, tranquillity, serenity and showers. Down here on earth, rabbits, nocturnal creatures that they are, gather in the moonlight and frolic. Much of this dancing in the moonlight leads to the making of more bunnies, who are brought into the world after a gestation period of 28 – 30 days, mirroring the phases of the moon. The connectivity of this rhythm was not lost on the observant ancients. It was this time of year (around the vernal equinox) that most people would have been celebrating the new year, and rituals abounded. Just as we pass down fables like the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus, so too did they. Similar themed folklore about the spring rabbit in the moon developed across cultures. The general premise of these tales being a rabbit who made great sacrifices for mankind and in turn was given eternal life on face of the moon to remind all on earth to emulate his deeds. It is no coincidence that the date of Easter is set by the lunar calendar, which is why it moves around from year to year.

Which came first, Easter or the Easter Bunny?

That is the Beginner’s Mind question that will aid you in your nature relatedness practice.  Asking new questions expands your curiosity.  When we dig back in time and explore why the rituals of our lives ARE the rituals of our lives, we often discover a deep intersection between human history and natural history.  After all, human history is really just a subsection of natural history as we are but one part of nature. Learning what we have done about Easter, does it make you question the origins of any other holiday rituals in your life? 

Ritual – Building Awareness of what Renewal Means to You

Easter is named after a pagan Germanic goddess, Eostre, who spread light in the spring to ensure an abundant harvest. This is the perfect time of year to take some time to use your senses and attune your nature relatedness practice. As you wake in the morning, head to work, look to the skies and take time to notice how the light is different than it was a month ago. Yes, there is more of it, but is it also a different colour? How about the winds, the rain, the birds, the insects? How is all of this activity impacting the food growing in the fields? This is the perfect time to lean into the language of nature and how it produces the food on your plate! This practice also helps you to raise your awareness of the value of the humanities in our attempts to mitigate climate change. This level of observation is what landscape artists have done, forever! When we pause to consider what colour is, what light is, what nature actually is (and isn´t) we begin to explore what it means to be human on a different level. Science and technology will mitigate the impact of climate change. But, how do we want to use them? What type of experience do we want to cultivate for humans in the future? How do we want to shape future human´s relationships with nature…or do we want to evolve a world in which humans see themselves as nature. How would that impact the science and technology we develop, and how we will use it. Questions to ponder in the season of renewal.