Eostre and Easter
The Easter weekend isn’t over yet, folks. Time to get your learnin’ on. Ever wonder where the name “Easter” came from? The Germanic goddess Eostre gets the credit on that one. She was a goddess of fertility and plenty, and the Anglo-Saxons had a month named after her. For all of us on the Gregorian calendar, that’d match up with April. Anglo-Saxon and Northern European festivals for the Easter-month (the “Eostre-monath”) involved eggs and hares, and these came to be attached to Eostre herself. What with it being a spring festival and all, located on or around the Equinox, themes of birth and fertility were only natural. Hard to beat rabbits when it comes to fertility, I suppose.
Now, how did Eostre get attached to the Christian celebration of the resurrection? Well, the Church was a big fan of re-appropriating pagan holidays. They took Lupercalia and made it a Saint’s celebration day, took the festival of Sol Invictus and made it Christmas; they were pros when it came to this stuff.
The Catholic Church determined that they would bring the Jewish festival of Passover and the Christian observance of the resurrection together. This was done under the vigil of the Roman Emperor Constantine (the first Christian Emperor), at the first Council of Nicaea. The title of “Easter month” was taken from the pagans, as the Church observed its use in Northern Europe, and sought to both marginalize the pagan celebration and indoctrinate/accommodate new pagan subjects.
And there you have it. Sorry, Eostre, but they took your month. Somehow the rabbits and eggs stuck around, though.
It’s Easter again, guys. Remember to keep your facts straight: Eostre and eggs/bunnies goes in one pile, beat-up sad/dead man/rabbi/god on a cross goes in the other pile.
Check right here for a nice article on that misinformation goin’ around on facebook yesterday!