Eostre (also known by the name Ostara) is the Anglo-Saxon goddess of springtime. Every year, at the end of winter, she would bring life back to the land. All the living things would awaken from their winter slumbers – the trees would sprout new green leaves, the flowers would grow their buds, and the animals would come out of their burrows and dens. Her name means ‘dawn’ and springtime is the dawning season in the passing of a year.
One year, Eostre was bringing spring to the land again when she came upon a child who was weeping in the forest. Eostre went to her to find out why the child was crying. Perhaps the child would be cheered by seeing that the goddess of spring was here to end the cold winter? So she went to her, trailing her glorious colours behind her.
When she reached the child, Eostre saw why the child was so sad – she was cradling a dead bird. It was a beautiful bird with snow white feathers. The child told Eostre that the bird had frozen to death that morning, on this last day of winter. Taking pity on the child and on the bird, Eostre decided to see if her magic could bring the bird back to life.
It worked! The bird began to breathe again and its eyes fluttered open. Oh, but alas, Eostre could not save the bird’s wings which had been too badly damaged by the freezing cold. Upon realising this, Eostre quickly used her magic to turn the bird into a rabbit. The bird did not mind that it was now a rabbit, it was too overjoyed that the goddess of spring had saved its life.
The fact that this rabbit had once been a bird meant that it was not an ordinary rabbit – it had retained its ability to lay eggs. So from that time on, at every Eosturmonath (start of spring), the rabbit would lay eggs in all the bright colours of spring as a thank you to the goddess Eostre for saving its life.
And that is the story of the easter bunny 🙂
* If you recognise the artist please let me know so that I can provide credit.