Easter, the second-most popular Christian holiday, is actually an ancient pagan festival. In fact, Easter was celebrated hundreds of years before the supposed birth of Jesus. Oestre or Eostar was a feast of the Goddess Ishtar/Astarte/Esther and celebrated her rebirth. The egg was used as a symbol for Eostar as it represented the re-birth of the Goddess and all of nature.  It wasn't until at least 300 years after the establishment of the Christian church that the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus began to be intermingled with the practices of Easter

In 325 A.D. Emperor Constantine sought to impose some order on the two festivals, convening the Council of Nicaea which ruled that Easter should always be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.  That rule exists today — except in the Orthodox Church which follows a different calendar — meaning that Easter can fall anytime between March 21 and April 25.

According to the Venerable Bede (672-735), Christian historian and theologian, writing in the 8th century, the name Easter is from the festival of Oestre (sometimes spelled "Estre"), pronounced "Eestruh", the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring, fertility and rebirth. It is easy to see how "Eastre time" became "Easter time".

Since ancient times, rabbits have been a symbol of sex and fertility, symbols of lust, sexual vigor and reproduction. In the traditions of Egypt and Persia there are such rabbit gods, and they were particularly honored in the Springtime. Osiris, the Egyptian god of resurrection, was sacrificed to the Nile each year in the form of a hare to guarantee the annual flooding of the river which Egyptian agriculture depended upon.

The hare is an emblem of many lunar goddesses such as Hecate, Freyja, and Holda. In legend, the shadows of the moon's surface are believed to be rabbits. Hares are thought to be the moon's lovers or brothers. The hare or the rabbit were associated with the moon and the Goddess in ancient America and China, also.

There is an old Christian legend about a young rabbit who, for three days, waited anxiously for his friend, Jesus, to return to the Garden of Gethsemane, little knowing what had become of Him. Early on Easter morning, Jesus returned to His favorite garden and was welcomed by His animal friend. That evening, when Jesus' disciples came into the garden to pray, they discovered a path of beautiful larkspurs, each blossom bearing the image of a rabbit in its center as a remembrance of the patience and hope of this faithful little creature.

Since eggs are also symbols of fertility and rebirth, eggs have always been an important feature of Springtime celebrations. The Orphic legend of the origin of the Universe has the Earth being hatched out of an enormous egg (the "cosmic egg"). In a broad range of ancient societies, from Egypt and Mesopotamia to the British Isles, brightly-decorated eggs were (and still are) presented as gifts and charms to bring fertility and sexual success each Spring.

This all comes together in our Easter customs in the pagan tradition of Oestre (Estre), the Goddess of Spring, etc. In that pagan story, there was a great bird who intensely desired to be a rabbit. The Goddess Oestre (Estre) graciously turned the bird into a rabbit, and in gratitude the rabbit (who could still remember how to lay bird eggs) came each Spring, during the Festival of Oestre (Estre), and laid beautiful eggs for the benevolent goddess. This is exactly how we got a supernaural, egg-laying rabbit god in our Easter tradition.

Since the pagan Festival of Oestre (Estre) coincided each Spring with the time of Passover, it isn't difficult to see how these pagan beliefs and customs eased into . Egypt Christianity. Ever since the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., Easter has been celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring Solstic