Word of Wednesday: Easter

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Easter, the holiday festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In other European languages, the festival has names derived from Jewish Passover or ‘pesah’. In English, curiously, the name for this Christian festival has origins in Paganism.

Easter or ‘Eostre’, in Old English, possibly relates to the Germanic goddess of spring by the same name or variant, ‘Ostara’. Venerable Bede, the first writer of an English history, suggests that the Pagan Eostre celebrations included eggs and hares. Perhaps these familiar symbols of Easter may have non-Christian origins. Considering hares are native to the British Isles; and rabbits or the Easter bunnies, were introduced by the Romans. These Christian festival traditions of fasting and feasting might have been borrowed from earlier Pagan springtime rituals.

The ritual significance of decorating eggs is certainly pre-Christian; decorated ostrich eggs have been found in African graves that are at least 60,000 years old! The modern practice of eating chocolate eggs or decorating chicken eggs to mark the end of Lent and the temporary prohibition of certain foods is a celebration of fertility and the rebirth of Christ. Lasting the forty days of lent without eggs is hard enough but I’ve a feeling that the 60,000-year-old eggs might be a little past their sell by date!

We’d love to see some of your Easter egg efforts, so get creative and Tweet your egg-pics to @Spellzone

Hugh MacDermott

16 Apr 2014
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