The rituals of Easter have an ancient history. The name originated from so-named Pagans who honored the goddess Eostre, also named Eastre representing the fertility of the earth. The celebrations came after the vernal (spring) equinox. The ancient word for spring is "eastre." The feminie principle was celebrated at this time in many areas such as Hathor in Egypt, Astarte from ancient Greece, Ashtoreth in ancient Israel and as far away as Kali in India. It was the time of planting seeds into the earth to be nurtured until the seedlings broke through to thrive.
The Easter egg represents fertility and rebirth such as the time to plant. The rabbit signifies multiple births connected to fertility. The Pagans were close to the land and revered it in many ways. Getting back to the egg, it is not known exactly when the decorating of the eggs began, however in ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt and Persia eggs were known to be dyed different colors. Perhaps the colorful eggs represented the many hues of spring flowers and plants.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, there is a legend that after the death of Jesus that Mary Magdalene was invited to a banquet given by the Emperor Tibirus and as one legend states, she told the Emperor that Jesus had risen and was alive. He scoffed and picked up an egg from a bowl on the banquet table and handed it to her saying, "If you can turn this egg red, then I will believe you." She took the egg and when she opened her hand, the egg was red. This legend is on YouTube with minor alterations.
The Legend of Mary Magdalene and the Red Egg: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=telkYJWElcg
After Christianity began spreading, there was fear that the Pagans would not accept their beliefs. Therefore, the fathers of Christianity incorporated the crucifixion and re-birth with the Pagan celebration. In fact, Christianity adopted almost all the Pagan celebrations including Christmas – or Yuletide. That is another story.
There is no actual date for the crucifixion of Jesus as being always on a Friday just as there is no known date of his crucifixion or the actual birth of Jesus. Therefore, I say let us celebrate Easter with colored eggs, chocolate rabbits as the rebirth of the land from winter into spring. Plant our gardens and enjoy the vegetables and the beautiful flowers. Spring may fade into summer, fall and winter; however, she will come again.