The heathen have many absurd "egg" stories, one of which is that the world began when the very fertile sex goddess Astarte (whose symbol is the prolific rabbit) laid a large egg which was warmed and then hatched by the Sun (the god Baal). Because Spring is the season of "mother nature's" rebirth, worshippers of the sun god Baal and his goddess Astarte yearly celebrated the Feast of Astarte at the time of the Vernal Equinox (when Sun light is about to overtake and exceed the length of the nighttime).
Old Eastern European legends blended folklore and "Christian" beliefs and firmly attached the egg to the Easter celebration. One legend tells of the time that the Virgin Mary gave eggs to the soldiers at the cross to entreat them to be less cruel. As she wept her tears fell upon the eggs, causing them to turn brilliant shades of colour. Even today, the devotees of the goddess, Holy Mary mother of god, are obsessed with her "tears". It seems that they can see in anything the face of the holy mother weeping.
Bro. R. Roberts spoke of this degregation of Mary into the goddess of the apostacy in Nazareth Re-visited:
"But we will not think of her as Roman Catholicism has stereotyped her. Mary has been metamorphosed by tradition into a goddess, with whose figure, sculpture and paintings have made the benighted populations of Europe as familiar as with those of Venus and Apollo. It requires not to be said that there is no more reality about the Madonna of ecclesiastical art than about the mythical gods of Greek polytheism. The portraits of Mary are as unhistorical as those of Christ. They are the gloomy fancies begotten of the doleful theology of the cloister. When we see Christ and Mary (as we shall, at the resurrection, if we are honoured with an accepted place there), we shall behold personages of a very different type from the insipid lugubrious presentments of the brush and chisel, at the hands of men who only knew the ignoble religion of the priests. It will be an endless marvel to Mary that she had been idolised for ages in such a caricature of her own clear and fervent intelligence. The piety of Romish superstition is a very different thing from the godliness of an ardent Israeliteman or woman. Heavy and gloomy and mawkish is the one: bright and joyful and noble is the other.
Bro. Thomas in Eureka shows an illustration of the Catholic Church's Mary and gives the following caption to it:
"This illustration is taken from a Roman Catholic catechism, and pictures Mary with twelve stars circling her head and the crescent moon under her feet. It is significant that the Egyptian goddess of fertility, Isis, is similarly pictured, and that The Apocalypse identifies the Apostasy with Sodom and Egypt (Ch. 11:8)"
Another legend tells that when Mary Magdalen went to the sepulchre to anoint the body of Jesus she had with her a basket of eggs. When she arrived at the tomb and uncovered the eggs the pure white shells had miraculously taken on a rainbow of colours.
From ancient times eggs had been dyed, exchanged and shown reverence by pagans. Eggs were colored or gilded, and given at the "Pre-Christian" spring festivals as symbols of the rebirth of life after the long "death" of winter. Long before Christ's ressurrection, eggs were regarded as symbols of continuing life and resurrection.
The Druids dyed eggs scarlet to honour the Sun, and Pagan Anglo-Saxons made offerings of their coloured eggs to the Goddess Eostre. They also (like many Pagan cultures before them) placed patterned eggs in tombs or on fresh graves, to ensure the rebirth of the deceased. The Easter Bunny is another symbol that has obvious links to the fertility, rebirth, and the abundance of life that is evident in Spring.
From Two Babylons, by A. Hislop on page 109, we learn about the Mystic Egg of Astarte:
"From Egypt these sacred eggs can be distinctly traced to the banks of the Euphrates. The classic poets are full of the fable of the mystic egg of the Babylonians; and thus its tale is told by Hyginus, the Egyptian, the learned keeper of the Palatine library at Rome, in the time of Augustus, who was skilled in all the wisdom of his native country: An egg of wondrous size is said to have fallen from heaven into the river Euphrates. The fishes rolled it to the bank, where the doves having settled upon it, hatched it, and out came Venus, who afterwards was called the Syrian Goddessthat is, Astarte. Hence the egg became one of the symbols of Astarte or Easter; and accordingly, in Cyprus, one of the chosen seats of the worship of Venus, or Astarte, the egg of wondrous size was represented on a grand scale."
Easter eggs and rabbits are the symbols of sexual fertility in the ancient, pagan religions. The Readers Digest Book of Facts, The Readers Digest Assn., 1987, page 122, gives this information:
"Easter and The Bunny: Childrens stories in many countires tell how Easter eggs are brought not by a chicken but by hares and rabbits. These long eared hopping mammals have represented fertility in many cultures because they breed so quickly. In traditional Christian art the hare represents lust, and paintings sometimes show a hare at the Virgin Marys feet to signify her triumph over temptations of the flesh. Yet as a symbol of life reawakening in the spring, often portrayed as the innocent and cuddly Easter bunny, the rabbit coexists in many places with the solemn Christian rites of Easter."