Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Eostre!

I’m totally fascinated by the way certain cultural traditions can be passed from generation to generation for hundreds, and often, thousands of years and how symbolic expressions evolve or are co-opted into a new representation. The celebration of Easter is a great example. Easter, possibly the holiest of all days for Christians, has its roots in Pagan, pre-Christian Europe. Eostre was the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility, and she was honored through feasts and fertility festivals that coincided with the Spring equinox. Her earthly symbol of fertility was the rabbit – hence the chocolate Easter bunnies that we know and love. For the Pagan peoples of Europe, the season of Eostre was a time to recognize Nature’s ability to reproduce and rejuvenate in each day of increasing sunlight. As Christianity’s dominance spread throughout Europe, Christian missionaries and leaders co-opted the old ways and traditions and re-signified them with images of Jesus’ rebirth during the days of increasing sunlight. Now if I could just find some literature on the cultural and religious significance of peeps.


Van said...

The amount of paganism in our culture is astounding:

Most of the days of our week are named after pagan Gods: Sunday (Sun god), Monday (Moon god), Saturday (Saturn), Thursday (literally Thor's day).

Even Choir robes in churches are from pagan temples, 1700 years ago.

Thankfully symbols have only the meaning we ascribe to them.

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Valerie - Riding Solo said...

I like celebrating. Spring is as good a reason as any.

I am fond of the "Day ending in Y" parties, too.

Silvernymph said...

Don't forget Friday (Freya's Day - Norse goddess) or Wednesday (Woden's Day - a.k.a Odin, Norse god)
All manifestations of spirituality are at their root expressions of something timeless, ancient and eternal. The expressions change with the tides of culture, but the themes recurr, as do the seasons...