Apr 11, 2009

Well, tomorrow is Easter for most of the world but we celebrate a bit differently here. I still have two children at home now, the others have families of their own now, so my eight and nine year old and I combine a bit of old and new for this season...the children hunt eggs and do a few of the "traditional" Easter stuff but I also try to incorporate a few pagan traditions so that they can see different ways that people can express their spirituality...I believe it gives children a more tolerant view of life and as the universe knows that we all could use a little more tolerance!

Today, I'm going to show a bit about the history of Easter and egg hunting that I found interesting in an article on WitchVox.....

Easter gets its name from the Teutonic goddess of spring and the dawn, whose name is spelled Oestre or Eastre (the origin of the word "east" comes from various Germanic, Austro-Hungarian words for dawn that share the root for the word "aurora" which means " to shine"). Modern pagans have generally accepted the spelling "Ostara" which honors this goddess as our word for the Vernal Equinox. The 1974 edition of Webster's New World Dictionary defines Easter thus: "orig., name of pagan vernal festival almost coincident in date with paschal festival of the church; Eastre, dawn goddess; 1. An annual Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, held on the first Sunday after the date of the first full moon that occurs on or after March 21." The Vernal Equinox usually falls somewhere between March 19th and 22nd (note that the dictionary only mentions March 21st, as opposed to the date of the actual Equinox), and depending upon when the first full moon on or after the Equinox occurs, Easter falls sometime between late-March and mid-April.

As for the Easter egg hunt, a fun game for kids, I have heard at least one pagan teacher say that there is a rather scary history to this. As with many elements of our "ancient history, " there is little or no factual documentation to back this up. But the story goes like this: Eggs were decorated and offered as gifts and to bring blessings of prosperity and abundance in the coming year; this was common in Old Europe. As Christianity rose and the ways of the "Old Religion" were shunned, people took to hiding the eggs and having children make a game out of finding them. This would take place with all the children of the village looking at the same time in everyone's gardens and beneath fences and other spots.

Traditional foods play a part in this holiday, as with so many others. Ham is the traditional main course served in many families on Easter Sunday, and the reason for this probably has to do with the agricultural way of life in old Europe. In late fall, usually in October, also known as the month of the Blood Moon, because it referred to the last time animals were slaughtered before winter, meats were salted and cured so they would last through the winter. Poorer people, who subsisted on farming and hunting, would often eat very sparingly in winter to assure their food supply would last. With the arrival of spring, there was less worry, and to celebrate the arrival of spring and of renewed abundance, they would serve the tastiest remaining cured meats, including hams. This also marked a seasonal end to eating cured foods and a return to eating fresh game (as animals emerged from hibernation looking for food), and no longer relying on stored root vegetables, but eating the young green plants so full of the vitamins and minerals that all living beings need to replenish their bodies in spring.

There is much more to the article and I hope that you have the opportunity to read it in it's entirety. I just love history and it's a great way to learn about the old ways and how they have influenced us to this day.


Celestite said...

Since the Christian celebrations that dominant the culture have both a religious and a secular side...being Pagan gives you new opportunities. I celebrate the Sabbats, but I also enjoy the secular parts of the Christian holidays. So I already celebrated Ostara, but I will enjoy Easter eggs and candy gifts and ham dinner this weekend. ;-)

Hibiscus Moon said...

I luv that egg pic. Is it yours? What a lovely Pagan way to decorate and egg. Do you know how it was done? I hope you enjoy today.