Friday, 21 March 2008

The origins of Easter

Easter is another religious festival that has roots in pagan as well as Christians traditions.

Spring is a season of renewal and rebirth and Pagans have long held festivals during March or April to celebrate nature's rebirth. This was a suitable event for early Christians to merge with the story of Christ's resurrection.

The word Easter is derived from Ostara or Eostre, the name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring.

The goddess Eostre is associated with eggs and hares or rabbits. One legend says that Eostre found a wounded bird in the snow. Wanting to help she transformed it into a hare so that he could survive the winter. In the spring the hare laid a clutch of eggs, showing that it was still a bird at heart. The hare left these eggs as gift for Eostre.

In many pagan belief systems the hare or rabbit is a symbol of fertility and eggs are a symbol of life.

The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Gauls, Greeks and Romans all had traditions of giving eggs as gifts or as offerings to the gods during the spring.

For more information, visit:
www.witchology.com/contents/march/ostara.php
www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/C/can_you_believe_it/religion/festeaster.html
www.st-christophers.co.uk/newsletters/2006/april/easter-top10
www.muddlepuddle.co.uk/The%20World/Festivals/ostara.htm

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmm, Eostre's a bit dodgy. There's only a single reference in Bede to go on.

Here's some further discussions about the links between Easter and paganism:
http://cavalorn.livejournal.com/283496.html
http://cavalorn.livejournal.com/254863.html

badwitch said...

Yes, I had heard that the reference to Eostre comes from Bede - it is certainly gone into in more depth in some of the links I have pointed to at the bottom of my blog on Easter. I've heard other people say that Astarte is associated with Easter too, but I'm not sure where that reference comes from. Thanks for putting the links to your livejournal discussion. I shall have a look at them.

Anonymous said...

Intiguing.

I was listening to a plug for a "Hare Pie and Bottle Kicking" event earlier - at least 400 years old, and possibly much older.