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[Wiccan Web] Eostre, Easter, Ostara, Eggs, and Bunnies


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By Jason Mankey

 

I kind of celebrate Easter. I know that to a lot of Pagans that's a sort of blasphemy, and if you grew up in a household lacking such traditions I totally get it. However, if you grew up ith Easter egg hunts, baskets full of jelly beans, and huge ham dinners . . . → Read More: Eostre, Easter, Ostara, Eggs, and Bunnies

 

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Pomona

An interesting and intelligent article - the perfect antidote to the plethora of "Easter was a Pagan festival" articles that usually come out this year.

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fizzyclare1

love this bit:

 

Venerating a rabbit in April during the Earth’s annual period of rebirth makes complete sense. That doesn’t mean it’s pagan in the sense that people worshipped a rabbit in the year 100, but it’s Pagan in the sense that it taps into the natural rhythms of the Earth.

 

yup, and i would add boxing march hares to that too....and a big bunch of other stuff too...

 

:D

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Guest Fellraven

I support the Rabbit Welfare Association's annual Easter campaign called "Make mine chocolate", which tries to deter people from buying real bunnies at this time of year.

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Guest Candycain

An interesting and intelligent article - the perfect antidote to the plethora of "Easter was a Pagan festival" articles that usually come out this year.

 

This week I was in an adult education class with two Christian schoolteachers. One is Catholic and the other Protestant and they are both very religious ladies. They told the class that the date of Easter is determined each year by taking the weekend after the first full moon following the spring Equinox. Then they said Easter is named after a goddess of Spring called Oestre. If this is what Christians are being taught it seems they themselves believe Easter used to be a Pagan festival and then was taken over by Christianity.

 

I've seen those articles saying that Christians have stolen the festival, and the responses saying it is all a fuss about nothing. In view of what these two ladies said , maybe it could be an opportunity for friendly discussions with Christians about sharing the festival and the traditions. They seemed perfectly happy about it. They also said eggs are a symbol of new life which is more Pagan than what we were told when I was at school. We were told the egg was a symbol of the stone that was rolled away from Jesus' tomb.

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Guest Teyrnon

The problem with the idea that Easter was a pagan festival of the goddess Eostre is that it ignores the fact the festival is celebrated in other countries and is usually called some variant of Pasque (French) Pasg (Welsh) etc.. (relating to the jewish Passover) So while the name Easter could derive from Eostre, the festival celebrated internationally by the christians could hardly have come from that source. Nevertheless it's interesting to hear above that some christians are prepared to allow the idea.

 

The crucial question, however, is whether pagans need a festival at this point in the year, given that the Spring Equinox stands between Imbolc and Beltane and to stick another one in makes this time of year look a bit crowded. That's not to say that any devotees of the goddess Eostre wouldn't want to have a special festival for her. But if we are talking about a cycle of festivals based on the seasons it hardly seems necessary to insist that Easter has a place so perhaps we should leave the christians to celebrate their faith in the Resurrection and not try to make retrospective claims on it.

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Moonhunter

The problem with the idea that Easter was a pagan festival of the goddess Eostre is that it ignores the fact the festival is celebrated in other countries and is usually called some variant of Pasque (French) Pasg (Welsh) etc.. (relating to the jewish Passover) So while the name Easter could derive from Eostre, the festival celebrated internationally by the christians could hardly have come from that source.

 

the point is that eostre was a month in the Anglo Saxon calendar that coincided (roughly) with this time of the year. And the AS calendar was based on the lunar cycle, like the timing of Christian Easter. So it was possible (there are academic technical issues about the AS calendar) for the christian festival always to fall in Eostre, and so be called after the month in which it occurred, at least in England.

 

The crucial question, however, is whether pagans need a festival at this point in the year, given that the Spring Equinox stands between Imbolc and Beltane and to stick another one in makes this time of year look a bit crowded.

 

Only if, as a pagan, you choose to follow the wiccan eight festivals. As a Heathen, I don't, so it doesn't matter :)

 

That's not to say that any devotees of the goddess Eostre wouldn't want to have a special festival for her.

 

Well, if she was a goddess, then she is a Heathen goddess. But it's an argument, as there's no evidence for her. But lack of evidence in Anglo Saxon England doesn't mean she wasn't. It really comes down to personal choice and UPG. There were no festivals. there is nothing, nada, zilch, except the name of the month. And Bede (who recorded the names of the months in the AS calendar) never claimed the month was named after a goddess, IIRC. I have no idea when that claim was made. the 20th century, possibly.

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............ actually, Eostre is not one of the eight Wiccan festivals although Spring Equinox is! When I first came into the Wiccan Craft, there was no mention of "Eostre" but we did "turn the wheel of the year" with the equinox as one of the four Sun festivals. Within Wicca-dom, Eostre seemed to creep in as a name for a festival at this time of year, in the 1980s. I have personally always been uncomfortable with it as it seemed to me to be bending the experience to share in the chocolate-fest of Easter that the xtians so enjoy :lol: - a bit like pressies at Yule coz that's what the xtians do at Xmas!

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Guest Teyrnon

 

 

the point is that eostre was a month in the Anglo Saxon calendar that coincided (roughly) with this time of the year. And the AS calendar was based on the lunar cycle, like the timing of Christian Easter. So it was possible (there are academic technical issues about the AS calendar) for the christian festival always to fall in Eostre, and so be called after the month in which it occurred, at least in England.

 

 

So like Beltaine and Samhain ('May' and 'November' in Irish)?

 

Only if, as a pagan, you choose to follow the wiccan eight festivals. As a Heathen, I don't, so it doesn't matter :)

 

 

Don't these festivals all have some historical context as seasonal markers and as established festivals in addition to the wiccan use of them?

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Guest Teyrnon

............ actually, Eostre is not one of the eight Wiccan festivals although Spring Equinox is! When I first came into the Wiccan Craft, there was no mention of "Eostre" but we did "turn the wheel of the year" with the equinox as one of the four Sun festivals. Within Wicca-dom, Eostre seemed to creep in as a name for a festival at this time of year, in the 1980s. I have personally always been uncomfortable with it as it seemed to me to be bending the experience to share in the chocolate-fest of Easter that the xtians so enjoy :lol: - a bit like pressies at Yule coz that's what the xtians do at Xmas!

 

Prezzies at Yule is a difficult one but I tend to think of the practice as part of our cultural life in a post-christian society and that the prezzies part of it not essentially christian which I think is why some protestants have argued for not observing christmas.

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Moonhunter

............ actually, Eostre is not one of the eight Wiccan festivals although Spring Equinox is! When I first came into the Wiccan Craft, there was no mention of "Eostre" but we did "turn the wheel of the year" with the equinox as one of the four Sun festivals.

 

Technically, it seems to me that the vernal equinox occurs in the month of Hretha - and I, and a number of other heathens, have UPG with her. And, IIRC, there is evidence (possibly Bede0 that she was regarded as a goddess.

 

So like Beltaine and Samhain ('May' and 'November' in Irish)?

 

sort of. Yes, in terms of naming the month. No, in terms of any festivals.

Only if, as a pagan, you choose to follow the wiccan eight festivals. As a Heathen, I don't, so it doesn't matter :)

 

 

Don't these festivals all have some historical context as seasonal markers and as established festivals in addition to the wiccan use of them?

 

No. Or rather, some did in some countries, among some Celtic peoples. Not all were celebrated by any one Celtic people (Irish, Welsh, Breton etc) that I can trace, and some - the equinoxes for example - do not seem to have been celebrated at all. or have any formal recognition. That's assuming you mean pagan festivals, rather than either medieval stumps of something, or 18th century Christian revivals of pagan festivals.

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Guest Candycain

I was interested in why the moon was used at all to fix the moveable feast. I've just looked it up and apparently it is because the original events were supposed to have happened at the Jewish feast of Passover and Passover is fixed by the moon. For the past couple of years I've been celebrating the Wiccan festivals, so when those two ladies talked about the moon it sounded to me as if the Christians were using a sabbat and an esbat to fix Easter! Not as simple as that though.

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Guest Teyrnon

 

 

 

 

Don't these festivals all have some historical context as seasonal markers and as established festivals in addition to the wiccan use of them?

 

No. Or rather, some did in some countries, among some Celtic peoples. Not all were celebrated by any one Celtic people (Irish, Welsh, Breton etc) that I can trace, and some - the equinoxes for example - do not seem to have been celebrated at all. or have any formal recognition. That's assuming you mean pagan festivals, rather than either medieval stumps of something, or 18th century Christian revivals of pagan festivals.

 

I was really thinking of the general availability of these seasonal markers outside of the Wiccan use of them for any modern pagans who wanted to identify a seasonal cycle. I accept that the eightfold year is not identifiable in antiquity, and in particular that the equinoxes in particular as festivals are not particularly apparent in any pre-modern examples. Indeed that hardly any festivals outside of Greek and Roman ones are identifiable except as what you call 'medieval stumps', though I wouldn't dismiss these as entirely without significance.

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