I was taught from a young age, being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, that the symbols and practices that are specific to Easter are of pagan origin. This was presented as a bad thing reeking of false gods and satanic influence: sinister bunnies furred in demonic profligacy hopping down the broad and spacious road to destruction, eggs, symbols of reproduction, colorfully displaying unbridled concupiscence wrapped up in their delicate shells, the name Easter a sly wink of Anglicization performed upon the name of the Babylonian goddess of love and pleasure/reproduction and sex, Ishtar.
But what I have come to understand is that pagan symbols are an ancient well that we go to, bucket in hand and that the water is not tainted, not poisonous, but sweet. There are beautiful acknowledgments of the sacredness of life and of the beauty of rebirth in those (now candy hued) eggs and in those bunnies (with fluffy tails). Now when someone asks me, “Did you know that the symbols associated with Easter are pagan in origin?” I say, “Yes! Isn’t that a beautiful tribute to the beliefs of those who came before us?” It is an homage to the themes that connect us all: the cycle of life and death/rebirth and decay with, in this case, the emphasis on renaissance, revival, and resurrection.
And also, I really like bunny ears