Ēostre: What’s In A Name?

imgres4Hey Christians, looking forward to celebrating Easter next year?  You know, the hideous beating, torture and cruel crucifixion of a man followed by his miraculous resurrection three days later.

And what will you be doing to celebrate it? Chocolate Easter eggs,  bunny decorations, maybe a nice family meal with hot cross buns, oh and of course a Sunrise Service or Easter Vigil at your local church.

After all, what could be more christian than that?

Well…

220px-ostara_by_johannes_gehrtsFirst, let’s look at the name shall we? Easter.  You do know that the name derives from a Germanic goddess called Ēostre who dates back to at least the 2nd century BCE. Ēostre or Ostara as she is sometimes called, had feasts held in her honour during Ēosturmōnaþ, which was the Germanic equivalent of April.

Writing in the 8th century, The Venerable Bede had this to say:

During Ēosturmōnaþ, pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Eostre’s honor, but that this tradition has died out, replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.

So, we have ancient Germanic tribes to thank for the name.  The christians just stole it.

Now let’s think about the timing shall we?

Bede also says:

“The Sunday following the full Moon which falls on or after the equinox will give the lawful Easter.”

Hang on… If Easter is the celebration of the passing and resurrection of Jesus, shouldn’t it be on the same date every year?  Disregarding the fact that there have been at least two errors in calendar calculations over the centuries, so we are uncertain on what date and in which year he actually died (or was born for that matter).

pesachJesus wasn’t a christian anyway, and the Last Supper was actually a Passover or Pesach feast, in honour of the Jews escaping the Angel of Death visiting his wrath on Egypt.  An event that, according to the bible, predates Jesus by at least 1,300 years!

But the fact remains, Easter is never held on the same date every year.  Does that not ring any alarm bells?

If you’re gonna celebrate something as central to the tenets of your belief as this, you should at least pick a date and stick with it.  Looks like the First Council of Nicea (325 AD) missed a trick, they are the ones who actually decided when Easter would be celebrated.

Or was there something else at play?

Could it be that Easter or Pascha, as they would have known it back then, actually took over a previously existing celebration, perhaps of the Spring Equinox.

This is a list of deities from around the world who had celebrations in their honour at the equinox:

  • Aphrodite ancient Greece
  • Ashtoreth from ancient Israel
  • Astarte from ancient Greece
  • Demeter from Mycenae
  • Hathor from ancient Egypt
  • Ishtar from Assyria
  • Kali from India
  • Ēostre a Norse Goddess of fertility.

search1As late as the 4th century AD, there was a pagan celebration called Sol Invictus, associated with Mithras,  that the church had to overcome. Dionysus was a divine child, resurrected by his grandmother. Dionysus also brought his mum, Semele, back to life.

So it was political expediancy that decided when Pascha should be celebrated rather than any actual belief in the veracity of the bible and christian teachings.

Basically, Easter itself was stolen.

imgres-11Oh christianity, you kleptomaniac!

I mean I could also mention the eggs being pagan symbols of fertility.  After all, look at the majority of the celebrations.  Almost all of them honour a female god, normally associated with procreation and bounty.

The rabbits (or hares) come directly from Ēostre, and have absolutely nothing to do with christianity at all as far as I can see.

And what about those tasty hot cross buns?

The same ones that are mentioned in the Old Testament, where the Israelites baked sweet buns and presented them to their idols.  The early church clergy tried to put a stop to it, but were unable to make any headway.  Those Pagans loved them some cake!  And let me be quite clear, the practice of bun sacrifice was nicked by the Jews from the even older Phoenician and Babylonian civilisations, where  cakes were baked to present to the Queen of Heaven.

tumblr_lsrho13kid1qzix81o1_500I have a vision now in my head of early churchy types coming in to lay the ecclesiastical law down and being beaten up with bread weapons.

Not so far fetched.

If the ancient Greeks could make bread dildos, I see no reason why Pagans couldn’t create patisserie based weaponry.

So the christians did what they always do.  They stole the idea and claimed it as their own.

Even the idea of the Sunrise Service is nicked from earlier religions that celebrated the rising sun.

So, my christian buddies. You might want to think about all this when you munch your choccie eggs, as you sit in the pews in the pre-dawn darkness, thinking about the hot cross buns later.

What could be more christian than celebrating Ēostre like that?

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