EASTER: Origin of Oestre: Goddess Of Spring and Renewal
The naming of the celebration as “Easter” seems to go back to the name of a pre-Christian goddess in England, “Eostre”, who was celebrated at beginning of spring. The only reference to this goddess comes from the writings of the Venerable Bede, a British monk who lived in the early 8th century.
There are several versions of the name, referred to as theonyms or cognates or linguistic siblings of common origin: “Eastro” (Northumbrian dialect), Ostara (Old German dialect), “Asteron” (Old Saxon dialect), “Austro” (Proto-Germanic dialect) etc. In fact, by the C2nd there were references to this Goddess or Mother or Matronae as “Austriahenae”. Essentially, these various linguistic titles were symbolic of The Egg Of Creation: The well known Easter Egg. Ostara is often seen flying in the air or heavens.
Their month of pagan celebrations and feasts were held in April in Eostre’s honour, but this later was replaced by the Christian month of Paschal that celebrated the resurrection of Jesus.
Scholars are still debating the origin of the Hare or Rabbit associated with the Eggs.
After Charlemagne defeated and converted the continental Saxons to Christianity, he gave new Germanic months to the Latin months of the year, which included the Easter-month Ostarmanoth.
There are other theories that Easter evolved from a Goddess of the Dawn by the name of “Aurora” or the Daughter of Heaven.
Many village names contain the Eostre origin, like “Eastrea” in Cambridgeshire in the C10th.
Jacob Grimm, in the C19th wrote that the Old High German adverb “Ostar” expresses “movement towards the rising sun”. Thus the many ancient references to Easter as the Radiant Dawn.
The Egg symbol was associated to the iconography of the Phoenix Egg, so in the 1st Century in medieval Europe it was prohibited to eat eggs during the fast of Lent. Prior to Lent, children would go knocking door-to-door begging to accumulate their stash of eggs prior to fasting.
Whether or not the ancient Chaldeans or Babylonians claim “Ostre” as their own in the recorded names of “Astarte” and “Ishtar”, it is still a sacred time to venerate the death of Winter and honour the coming of Spring.
Whatever this history tells us, let us collectively associate this current Eastertime as a time of Rebirth, of Renewal, of Fecundity and Love.
Natural Dyes for Easter Eggs ..
“Creativity is Intelligence having fun.”
~ A. Einstein.