Easter in Australia has always been noted by religious observances and traditions. I dare say that in Australia today, no matter your country of origin, no matter whether you are Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Baha’i, that somewhere over Easter you will enjoy an Easter egg, or a piece of hot cross bun, or honey cakes.
It’s quite a contradiction isn’t it, how some young Jewish bloke who ran foul of the law for sedition and died for his crime could end up being equated with chocolate eggs, fluffy bunnies and fruit buns. He ended up crucified, and we ended up with the chocolate.
I therefore thought that I would skip the entire issue and write about the other Easter, the pagan one.
Let’s start with the name Easter. According to Old Venerable himself, St. Bede, (672-735 CE), and I am certain that he wouldn’t mind me using this familiarity; in his book De Ratione Temporum he noted that Easter was named after Eostre. Eostre was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people. There are a number of variations, but all are derived from the ancient word for Spring.
One thing that you can say about the early religions, and this is that they were pragmatists; we don’t have an occasion for a religious celebration, so we’ll just borrow yours. Rebirth, the coming of the Northern Hemisphere Spring coinciding with the resurrection of saviours being popular.
Here is a quote:
Spring is in the air! Flowers and bunnies decorate the home. Father helps the children paint beautiful designs on eggs dyed in various colors. These eggs, which will later be hidden and searched for, are placed into lovely, seasonal baskets. The wonderful aroma of buns baking in the oven waft through the house. Forty days of abstaining from special foods will finally end the next day. The whole family picks out their Sunday best to wear to the next morning’s sunrise worship service to celebrate the savior’s resurrection and the renewal of life. It will be a thrilling day.
The above is a description of an ancient Babylonian family 2,000BC honouring the resurrection of the god Tammuz, who was brought back from the underworld by his mother/lover Ishtar after whom the festival was named. Ishtar being a derivation of Eostre.
Christianity found many converts, and why not given that their religion was based almost entirely on preceding religions, many of which were pagan.
The fertility symbols associated with Spring are obvious, bunnies and eggs. And this is why Easter always falls at the time of the Northern Hemisphere Spring Equinox. It’s very little to do with Christianity, but all to do with our pagan ancestors.
But what better way to celebrate, than to bite the head off the bunny goddess, go nekid to a pagan fertility rite, get yourself a slice of toasted hot cross bun, or honey cake and enjoy the holiday.
From the crew at the Café, Happy Eostre, Ishtar or Easter.
Thank you to Bob R. of Hawaii for the pic. This is of course of Easter Island.