Indianapolis Moms Blog is a community of moms who love to learn from one another and hear differing perspectives about family traditions of all types. We find that there is plenty out there to divide us, but we love to come together in appreciation of what makes us unique.
Growing up, I practiced Christianity. I sang in choruses, went to church every Sunday, was baptized, and took holy communion. But it never really felt “right” and I always felt guilty with my church friends. In high school, I grew into a typical teenager and my Christian-ness fell to the wayside.
George Carlin said, “Religion is like a pair of shoes. Find one that fits for you, but don’t make me wear your shoes.” So, once I left for college, I was determined to find that perfect fit. I wanted to celebrate the natural beauty all around us. I wanted to believe that everyone has their own path. My search lead me to a religion called Paganism (or Neopaganism) and I finally found what I had been missing. I was no longer racked with guilt, I could become connected to people in ways that didn’t feel fake for me anymore, and I could still follow my own rituals and not feel so left out.
During the dawn of the Christian faith, Pagans (or Heathens) were the vast majority and they were firmly rooted in their beliefs and practices. In short, the Church found that the easiest way to gain converts was to hold services during the Pagan festivals (8 in total throughout the year). But the Pagans held onto most of their own religion’s motifs; sunrise services, the exchange of eggs, baby animals, and cakes to name just a few of the things borrowed from Eostre’s celebration and injected into our mainstream version of Easter.
During the vernal equinox (March 20th), we will celebrate the coming of spring with a day that is equal in length to the night. It also marks the longest day since the beginning of the cold winter. The goddess Eostre, from which Easter takes it’s name, will return to give birth to new life. She is the goddess of fertility after all, and her animal is the rabbit. We give thanks to the earth becoming new and green again with a sunrise service. Typically, a lamb is roasted over an open fire, eggs are exchanged to symbolize new life, and hot cross buns are served (because who doesn’t love cake?). Then after the meal, women of expectant age will jump the embers to ensure their fertility. Our children will plant seeds to bless the earth in hopes that they too will live long and fruitful lives.
So this year, keep in mind the origins of exchanging eggs, baby animals, and the resurrection of the earth and all that it continually provides for us.
Have a long a joyous equinox!