A quick read for you while you tuck into your chocolate eggs. Easter…. Where did it come from?
The venerable Bede noted in his work ‘Reckoning of Time’ that there had been a celebration during the early Anglo-Saxon period of the Goddess Eostre, from the Germanic Ostara, from the month of her name Ostarmanoth. Eostre is closely associated with the Goddess of Dawn, re-birth and mother nature, demonstrating the renewal of the Earth in Spring-time. Her symbol is the Hare.
Due to her association with the Dawn and new life, Eostre is closely paired with the Norse Freyja, Goddess of fertility, however Freyja is more closely symbolized by cats, as written by Snorri, stating the origins of the witch’s familiar. It is entirely more probable that Norsemen equated a similar attribution with Iounn, Keeper of the apples, Goddess of Youth, whom I have already discussed.
Christians, as we know associated Easter with the death and resurrection of Christ, which took place over the Easter Weekend. The symbolism with re-birth therefore has been carried forward. In the Jewish Calendar, Easter has symbolic links with Passover, which generally falls in the few weeks around Easter, subject to the Hebrew month of Nisan, and commemorates the Exodus. The Hebrew name for Passover – Pesach – has been noted for its similarities to the Christian feast of Paschal which had taken over from the festival of Eostre by the 8th Century. Indeed, Christ is referred to as Pascha, and in the New Testament, reference is given to the Paschal Lamb, and the removal of yeast from the house.
And as for those eggs, in Early Christian areas of the middle east, particularly Mesopotamia, eggs were stained red to represent the blood of Christ shed at the Crucifixion, with the egg itself representing the empty tomb. Or it could be that when Jesus appeared to Mary, he came bearing tasty chocolate eggs, and they all sat eating them. 😀
Happy Easter, everybody. Whichever one you subscribe to!