Happy Eostre or Happy Ostara or Happy Easter

I hope everyone's had a great Easter!

Easter is derived directly from a Germanic pagan fertility Goddess called Eostre, if you speak Old English, or Ostara, if you speak Old High German. Spelling is highly variable on this because, back in those days, most people couldn't.

Interestingly, Eostre is mentioned in writing in only one place, the work of the Venerable Bede, a mediaeval monk and early self-publisher. He said in De Ratione Temporum - which was a bestseller in its day - that Eostre's Month (= April = Spring) was once celebrated with feasts in honor of the Goddess. De Ratione Temporum means On Calculating Time and a lot of the book is about how to calculate when Easter is on.

It's interesting that Eostre appears nowhere in Norse lore. Her only mention is in that early Christian book by Bede.

So if you ever wondered what bunnies and eggs had to do with Jesus, now you know: nothing at all. They are both carryover fertility symbols associated with the Goddess of Spring. And a good thing too, or we wouldn't get all that chocolate.

I hope the Easter Bunny was good to you!

(This is a modified version of a post I did last Easter, but I think the origin of Easter is rather cool so I'm repeating.)


Stephanie Thornton said...

Yumm... Chocolate. I might have overindulged today.

My husband asked me on Saturday night where the bunnies and eggs came from- I gave him the same rundown, but with fewer details.

Hope you had a great Easter!

Gary Corby said...

Happy Easter Stephanie!

Chocolate has lots of milk, which is very good for you. And a small dose of caffeine, which is also good for most people. So overall, chocolate counts as a health food.

Loretta Ross said...

I like the way you think! Plus, if you get dark chocolate Reese's, the dark chocolate has anti-oxidants (which, as near as I can figure, keep you from rusting) *and* the peanut butter is a protein food.

scaryazeri said...

As an atheist from a Muslim country, I had a fantastic Easter,and the bunny was very good to me. :)

Drifter said...

Happy Easter to you too.

My chocolate Easter Bunny is now earless. Poor thing.

Gary Corby said...

Scary, I suspect the Easter Bunny transcends all beliefs. Like Santa and Sherlock Holmes. I'm dead sure all three of them exist for real.

Gary Corby said...

Yes, Loretta, the anti-oxidants prevent rust. And if you spray on WD40 it helps with arthritis.

Gary Corby said...

Happy Easter to you too, Welshcake!

My girls begin by biting off the heads. Not a good sign for their future husbands. Oh well.

Matthew Delman said...

Gary --

My wife usually starts with the ears too, but I know of some folks who begin by biting off their legs "so they can't run away."

It's fascinating to hear how the different holidays evolved. And, funny enough, my wife and I were discussing the other day how people figure out when Easter is (neither of us knew).

Gary Corby said...

Hi Matthew, Happy Easter!

Biting off the legs reminds me of the story of the Gingerbread Man.

Merry Monteleone said...


I knew that answer at one point, and now I can't remember the exact equation, but the Catholic and Protestant celebration of Easter uses the Gregorian Calendar. I think the exact way it was determined every year was devised during the council on Nicea and before that it was based on the Julian Calendar, which I don't think included leap year...

At any rate, the Greek Orthodox Church doesn't follow the same formula, which is why Greek Easter can often be on a different day. Neither day is historically accurate to the actual date of Christ's crucifixion, but then, Christmas isn't accurate to His birth and I think Mary's Ascention was a picked date as well... Most of the important dates of the Catholic (and Protestant, as the holidays they recognize were carried over when the Protestants broke from the Catholic Church) were picked to ease in conversion... The early Church adopted dates and carried over traditions from earlier religions. There are theories as to why this was done, to aid in pagans and other early religious feeling comfortable with Christianity, but there are probably some variables in there as well.

Well, that was a long and windy way to say I hope you had a happy Easter, or spring break... or you know, just really good chocolate bunnies :-)

And Gary, There are tarot decks that include Ostara - I actually have her card up on my desk this week... I'm a little odd, though.

Gary Corby said...

Thanks Merry, that's fascinating stuff about the calendar differences. I didn't realize there were different formulas for the same event.

I wonder what would happen if someone ever definitively proved the exact, correct date? Would everyone change their calendars?

Jude said...

Whoa! I just sent a mass text to all my friends telling them about Eostre hahaha So thanks!

Jude said...

Text from me: Did you know Easter is derived from Eostre a pagan germanic goddess? Eostre's month (april) had feasts in her honor.

Text from my friend: Sweet. I'm watching boondock saints. Glad to see we're both making progress on our theses.

lolz :)

Gary Corby said...

Hi Judith. I don't suppose you could call it thesis research?

No, thought not.