Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Eostre - Don't Forget The Reason For The Season

According to Bede (c. 672 - 735), writing in De Tempore Ratione ("On the Reckoning of Time"), Ch. xv, "The English months", the word easter is derived from Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, to whom the month of Eostremonat, corresponding to our April, was dedicated:

"Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated "Paschal month", and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance."

What is secure in Bede's passage is that the lunar month around the month of April in the Julian calendar was called the Eostre-monath. And as the Christian tradition of Easter, which has also fallen in April, arrived in some Germanic-speaking regions, the people named the then-unnamed Christian day after the festival, that is, in English as Easter, and in German as Ostern. It is alleged that remnants of Eostre's characteristics can also be found in the Easter Bunny celebrations, based on Jacob Grimm's research into connections between the 'Ostern Hare' and the Germanic Ostara, which he believed to be another name for the same goddess.

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