Easter or Ostara

Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal. Before the Romans and the church took over and started absorbing holidays that fell in line with pagan festivals, there were still celebrations.

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The Pagan Goddess Eostre may or may not have been invented by the monk St Bede. Either way her favourite animal was a rabbit. She also carried eggs which were a symbol of fertility. If you were wondering what rabbits and eggs had to do with the resurrection of Jesus, the answer is nothing.

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Teutonic mythology tells us that, “Ostara” was a movement toward the rising sun. Nordic myth doesn’t even mention Ostara. In fact, it is thought that Ostara is the High Germanic name for Easter.

I have also heard of Easter as being the festival of Ishtar the Babylonian goddess of fertility and war. She was also known as the light bringer. No rabbits for her. Ishtar liked winged lions and scorpions. Her symbol was an 8 or 16 pointed star.

There is some interesting information about the egg connection at Scientific American here. There is also a LOT of information stating that Ishtar and Easter are not related. As we saw earlier Easter and Eoster are also in question.

There are stories that eggs were forbidden during lent and brought out Easter morning to celebrate. Since lent is 40 days, there were a large number of eggs because the hens did not stop laying.

I was brought up in a home where although we were baptized catholic, we only went to church if we wanted to. This usually meant our friends were going and since they didn’t eat before church on Easter Sunday, neither did we. For us that was the extent of the lenten fast.

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No matter what your belief system is or isn’t, it’s clear that spring is a time of renewal. Animals give birth to new babies. Trees and flowers begin to get green and grow buds. The light lasts longer and the weather is warmer.

These things alone seem like reason enough to celebrate to me. I have to believe that with all the other festivals during the year there would have been one to celebrate spring.

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Call it what you will but please enjoy the fresh newness of this spring.