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The Myth of Eostre

By April 24, 2011

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Easter seems like a nice enough holiday, but I always grind my teeth as the day approaches because it means I'm going to have to put up with another round of "Easter is a pagan holiday.  It's based on the celebration of Eostre, whose symbols were rabbits and eggs."

No, it's not.

The historical record of Eostre is incredibly small: a single reference written by a Christian monk named Bede, writing after the supposed worship of Eostre has already vanished from England.  he comments that the word Easter, in English, comes from Eostre, or perhaps from Eostremounth, the mouth in which Easter occurs.

That's it.

Bede doesn't know anyone who worships Eostre, and no worshiper of Eostre has left any records of her at all.  There is no mention of a specific holiday for Eostre, and no mention of rabbits or eggs.  Most of the claims equating Eostre and Easter, therefore, are entirely made up.  The only potential connection is the word Easter and the name Eostre, an issue that only exists in English.  In Romantic languages, the word for Easter is based on Pesach, the Hebrew word for Passover, which Jesus was celebrating at the time of his execution.  And the Romantic language speakers have been celebrating Easter far longer than the English.

Stop repeating the fallacy.  Please.  And stop presuming world practices revolve around what went on in England.

Comments
April 25, 2011 at 6:36 pm
(1) Robb says:

Here is a link from Religioustolerance.org you might enjoy,
I found it interesting.
http://www.religioustolerance.org/easter1.htm

Good article by the way!

April 25, 2011 at 6:38 pm
(2) Cynthia says:

What about Ostara?

April 26, 2011 at 3:26 am
(3) Dave the Dude says:

There were two Jewish kalanders so some Jews celebrated passover at a different time. This was discovered in the Qumram documents. The last supper was a passover, the official passover took place later. This should have been mentioned.

April 26, 2011 at 11:10 am
(4) Christine says:

How about you do a little more research before writing an “article”?
Comment 1, by Robb, includes an informative link.
There is more evidence that Easter, Oester, and Ostara are, in fact, linked, than what you refute here.
This is presented as a factual article, so it would behoove you to set your religious preference aside when composing.

April 26, 2011 at 11:19 pm
(5) John says:

Hello Catherine, I really do enjoy your unbiased views of other belief systems, but this time you blew it about Easter! You need to do a little more research. Pagans celebrated the changing of the seasons ever since the seasons changed! My family celebrated Oster (German for Easter) 65 years ago with bunnies, eggs and rituals to honor Ostara.
That’s how far my memory goes back when I was a kid.
If you want to belief that Easter is a Christian (actually Jewish holiday, since there were no Christians at that time) that is fine with me, but don’t say that others are a Myth…
So stop grinding your teeth, it is not good for your health!
But keep up the good work!

April 27, 2011 at 5:32 am
(6) Borsia says:

It is the Spring Equinox nothing more. It has been recognized by virtually every religion since man figured out that solstices and equinoxes exist. They all attribute it to some saint, god, demon or something. But it has been recognized by atheists as well with names like May Day.

April 27, 2011 at 11:29 am
(7) Dani says:

Maybe you folks actually should read what Catherine is really saying.

She pointed out, correctly, that a goddess by the name Eostre is only mentioned by St. Bede in his work “Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum” which was completed around 730AD. Nowhere else has this goddess been found in any group, work, or culture. Bede certainly said that by the time of his writing, no Eostre worshippers were left.

As for Ostara, it is the celebration of the spring equinox, it’s *not* Easter. Easter comes close to the equinox because, following the old Jewish calender, it happens on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring (however, the Orthodox stipulate that it must happen *after* Passover, which is why Eastern and Western Christians often have different days for Easter.)

While certainly people of every religious stripe have observed the spring equinox, saying that Ostara and Easter, bunnies, eggs and the celebration of the ressurection of Christ have anything to do with each other is patently absurd. Saying that Easter is the masked celebration of the goddess Eostre is just as absurd. In fact, even saying that Ostara is a celebration of that goddess is false — very few neopagans worship Eostre at all, the few that do mostly being involved in German neopaganism.

Catherine is right, and she’s forgotten more about religious history than many posters have known. I’d suggest further reading before mouths open in criticism.

April 28, 2011 at 1:38 am
(8) jayr says:

by the time i was able to realized how easter was celebrated, i have only one thing to say, it is celebrated because we knew then that we are commemorating the Christ’s resurrection..
catherine is right, no pagan elements involved in this issue, she just make things clear out so that we all can understand the reason why easter is named.
keep up the good work!

May 1, 2011 at 11:51 pm
(9) Catherine Beyer says:

Christine: Exactly what religious preference do you think I’m favoring? Are you implying I’m a Christian defending my own holiday? I’m not. I’m very openly not.

John: I’m honestly unsure what point you are trying to make when you point out you included eggs and bunnies in Easter celebrations 65 years ago. It’s been a folk tradition associated with Easter for quite some time. I never denied that. I’m just saying it has never been something adopted by the church, and I’m saying there’s no obvious pagan source for it…neither of which you seem to be refuting.

Cynthia: What about Ostara? There’s no record of such a holiday in antiquity. The concept of it was invented in the 19th century. Some modern neopagans celebrate Ostara, but the ones worth their salt know its not recreating a specific ancient holiday.

Robb: The Religious Tolerance article has a lot of problems. (And I’ve academically disagreed with that site many times before) It starts with the claim that Eostre “was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people.” What source are they getting that from? As mentioned in my article, we only have one record of Eostre, and that was from a Christian.

I write this as fact because it is fact. Among historians these are well accepted facts. And I did cite a source: Bede. The guy who gives us the name Eostre. I can’t quote all the sources that *don’t* mention Eostre, which is really the issue here.

May 2, 2011 at 6:56 pm
(10) Chuck says:

Easter is a Pagan Holiday. Deal with it. So is Christmas. Facts are facts, no matter how you may try to dress them up and misrepresent them. These celebrations were borrowed from the Pagans and were not even celebrated by Christians until hundreds of years after the supposed life and death of Jesus. When was the Birthday of Dec. 25th finally assigned to Jesus?

Here is an interesting presentation
http://youtu.be/FNhGQYo4yZs

Oh…..and the Earth is far far older than 6,000 years.

May 7, 2011 at 10:08 am
(11) Dan says:

Many religious historians have studied this, and they believe that the death and resurrection legends were first associated with Attis, pre-dating the birth of Jesus by several centuries. The trappings of Easter (or Ostare, Ostern, Eastra, Austron, Ausos or whichever pagan goddess you’d care to single out) were simply grafted onto stories of Jesus’ life (http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa.htm) in order to make Christian theology more acceptable to Pagans.

Ms. Beyer may have a point about the ONE goddess (Oestre) she has chosen to focus on….but that cannot and does not dismiss all of the numerous other religions and goddesses that were associated with the spring equinox hundreds of years PRIOR TO the invention of the Christian god.

August 29, 2011 at 12:50 pm
(12) Jeffrey says:

In Sweden they have fires and burned witches.Normal women who been banned by the church.They was in mascopi whith the devils.The men of the church was afraid of to loose the acthority over the people.A bit afraid of the heathendom.Oestre can be such a women.They can burndt her at a big fire when the Irish missioneres flooded in over England.Easter is probably an old ceremony much longer than the Chistians coming up to North Europe.The easter we have is coming from the fullmoon.Have nothing to do whith jewish easter.The same is it whith Christms”Youle”(meens wheel )(weel of the sun)Christmas is the darkest day of the year A new year.

September 6, 2011 at 5:37 pm
(13) Tony says:

Catherine, however we want to slice this, however narrow minded we view history, the bigger picture always reveals the truth, “Easter” is an ancient celebration that we can’t get away from, you are only harping on one source – there are many others.

“Let go of your attachment to being right, and suddenly your mind is more open. You’re able to benefit from the unique viewpoints of others, without being crippled by your own judgment.”

– Ralph Marston

People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost ~ Dalai Lama

here’s one viewpoint to consider, there are many more.

atheism.about.com/od/easterholidayseason/p/PaganChristian.htm

November 4, 2011 at 1:56 pm
(14) Josh says:

Eostre and Ostara are well documented in German texts.

March 7, 2012 at 2:54 pm
(15) sKWILLS says:

Josh, can you show us those German texts?

I agree with Cathrine. There is no evikdence that Easter was originally a pagan Holiday or that Eostre was even a fertility goddess, much less linked to Eggs and Bunnies. Most of the Time she’s only used as a whip to beat Christians with, and forgotten about for most of the Year. The facts are simple. Christioans continued to Celebrate Jewish holidays at the beginnign of Christianity. Passover was a Jewish Holiday. Christians Celibrated it but added Jesus to it as the Real pascal lamb and Final Sacrifice. Most Cultures celibrated Pascha fo centuries before it was practiced by the Saxons in England, who called the Holiday “Eostre” after the Month it fell in, which in turn accordign to Bede was named after a logn forgotten goddess.

it’s as if we had a Holiday named “January day”. It woudl be named after the Month of January, which in turn is named after the god janus, but it wouldn’t mean that January Day was specifically an Ancient Pagan Holiday to honour Janus.

March 11, 2012 at 11:59 pm
(16) R Drake says:

Just as there is no evidence that Easter was originally a pagan holiday, so too there is no irrefutable evidence that Easter was NOT a pagan holiday but originated in Judaism or anything else. Flatly stated, we don’t know. Just as Kwanzaa is a few decades old made up holiday to honor some group or another, so Ostara, Eostre, or anything else you’d care to call it is just as valid.
Realistically, stories that were nearly verbatim what is found in the Bible have been found in Egyptian tombs that predated the Bible by a very long time.
Gnashing your teeth or rending your garments does little to convince anyone that your way is the right way or their way isn’t. Get over it and move on. People have the right to celebrate as they wish and so long as they don’t try to choke it down your throat with a door to door visit, as Christian sects do, I personally think, . . . and it harm none, do what ye will”

March 16, 2012 at 8:46 am
(17) 074061 says:

True. Ëostre (or Eastre) is the goddess of spring, which is the time when Easter comes. It’s very fun to search for eggs at Easter… thanks to Ëostre’s magical hare.

March 16, 2012 at 8:50 am
(18) fat bottom says:

:) very good

March 16, 2012 at 8:51 am
(19) He says:

Reading this, I believe you.

March 20, 2012 at 9:47 am
(20) Starkadder says:

Ms. Beyer, you are correct in that Eostre/Ostara is not an ancient pagan religious holiday. Most contemporary pagan practices cannot be traced to ancient times, because written records of pagan practices either didn’t exist, were destroyed, or were re-flavored with a Christian tone to hide their pagan origins. Most NEOpagan practices are based upon what little history we have, and a great deal of reinvention.

However, that doesn’t mean it can’t exist as a religious holiday today, and it doesn’t make it invalid. For us pagans, it works. Even Christianity started as a brand new religion that nobody ever practiced before. Does that make it any less valid? No. Just because a religion is older doesn’t make in more valid than another religion. Eostre is a NEOpagan holiday. In case you were wondering, “neo” means “new.” You can stop grinding your teeth now! ;)

March 20, 2012 at 10:33 am
(21) Starkadder says:

Catherine Beyer said: “I write this as fact because it is fact. Among historians these are well accepted facts.”

Actually, if you read the Wikipedia article on Eostre it clearly states that academics are torn on Bede’s account. Some believe he made Eostre up, others believe he didn’t. It’s actually a DEBATE among historians because there is no proof to prove either view. Just because Ms. Beyer sides with the academics who believe that that Bede made this goddess up doesn’t autmatically mean she is correct, not does it prove that what she says is fact.

The association of Eostre with eggs and hares comes from Grimm who called her Ostara. Could Grimm have made all this stuff up? Sure. Problem is I could also argue that whoever wrote the Christian Bible also “made it all up.” You can’t prove Jesus exists just as well as you can’t prove Eostre exists. You see, the thing about religion is that facts are irrelevant, because religion is based on FAITH. But if you prefer a fact, Ms. Beyer, I have one for you: FACT – Some neopagans today have FAITH in Eostre’s existence as a goddess. You don’t have to have faith in Eostre, you don’t have to even like our beliefs. However you do have to TOLERATE them. So again, you can stop grinding your teeth. In the long run you’ll save yourself frequent trips to the dentist, so you can thank me!

March 26, 2012 at 1:32 pm
(22) Catherine Beyer says:

I never said these facts didn’t make modern celebrations of Ostara invalid. All I did was write that Easter is not a disguised Ostara, and that the existence of historical Ostara is highly speculative.

I have no idea why you think I said you couldn’t believe in Eostre. You can believe in whatever you want. If you have had a spiritual experience with a being you know as Eostre, or you find she represents important values to you, by all means, have at it. Never said otherwise.

You don’t need to explain what “neo” means. First, the average American knows. Second, I’m a neopagan myself. You should stop presuming everyone is your enemy. It doesn’t make for good discussion.

April 6, 2012 at 4:45 am
(23) John George says:

Now every year we will have to grind our teeth when this article pops up to tell us that Easter has no association with Eostre, except by Bede.
There has been debate among scholars for over one hundred years about this subject: note the word debate. Now this author claims to settle the question with her own opinion. Sorry, but this cannot be settled by your sayso, unless of course you are a goddess who can make such proclamations.

I suppose her next article will explain how the death/resurrection mythos of Jesus, a most serious time in the minds of believers, is represented in ancient times by bunnies, hares, chicks, baskets, sweets, grass, and colorful eggs for hiding/finding?

April 8, 2012 at 4:10 am
(24) Seedy Poet says:

Catherine is correct…

Although the word “Easter” can be traced back to the name of the ancient British goddess Eostre or Ostara, Easter was never a pagan holiday. In fact, at the time the connection had been made between Easter and Eostre by Saint Bede (Easter was named after the month that was named after the goddess), the worship of Eostre had long since vanished among the Anglo-Saxons. Easter is also not a repackaging of the pagan tradition (and neopagan sabbat) of Ostara. The two traditions are completely different. However, during the later commercialization of Easter, various elements of the Vernal Equinox and the Spring Sabbat such as the Easter Bunny and eggs were appropriated and retooled for the Christian holiday.

But really…please…keep the egg-laying bunny. We insist.

April 8, 2012 at 4:50 am
(25) S.M. Ravenclaw says:

I must say that I agree with others on the fact that your research seems to be somewhat limited. A simple “Google” of Ostara/Eostre can come up with several theories.

You only cite one source. This source is questionable.

It does seem that you are trying to say that the origin of Easter is not Pagan. As far as I can tell, this is impossible to know. However, with a little research into it, it seems that the modern celebration of the Pagan festival is a revival or renewal of ancient traditions.

It is also widely accepted that the Christian Easter has usurped many a tradition from Pagan rites. Some Christians choose not to celebrate Easter for this precise reason.

This site is particularly interesting:

http://www.witchology.com/contents/march/ostara.php

There are also relevant articles here:

http://wicca.com/celtic/akasha/ostara.htm

http://www.englatheod.org/eostre.htm

http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usma&c=holidays&id=1991

(I particularly like the last one).

While some of the information may differ from one to another, every one of them states that Christianity was a late entry into the Easter tradition and took ideas from Paganism. I know that you didn’t actually say that Easter IS a Christian festival, only that it is not Pagan.

There is also debate as to the etymology of the word “Easter”. It is not true that the connection between Eostre and Easter only exists in English. Several sources attribute it to German.

I am not trying to argue with you here. It is perfectly acceptable to believe what you wish. You may, or may not, take note of the information within the sources I have cited. They are, after all, modern websites which may well be full of information purposefully chosen by their creator.

I merely wish to offer alternative view points on this particular piece of history and suggest that, before teeth get to grinding, it would not hurt to be more resourceful in your research (even if you only look for that which is agreeable to you).

April 8, 2012 at 9:21 am
(26) Laudfafnir says:

Christians …. PLEASE, get a life! You want myths? Go read Genesis.

April 8, 2012 at 11:49 am
(27) Nicole says:

Yes, dear – it is. I bash not your personal beliefs, but I did do my research, and yes, dear – Easter, much like Christmas, is based on Pagan holidays. It is good to know that Christ loved, and loves everyone.

April 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm
(28) itsme says:

I think the problem that the majority of your readers may have a problem with is your negative start to your article, stating that you will have to, “… put up with…”

perhaps in future articles you write about the differences in faith, you may learn from this one that remaining positive and open minded will return a more favourable response from your readers.

Enjoy your Easter weekend, no matter how you choose to celebrate the longer, warmer days in your garden. Its my very favourite celebration of the year.

April 8, 2012 at 2:50 pm
(29) comet says:

Pagan holidays were hijacked by the church along with Pagan statues, rituals and rites to force their interpretation as to how other people should worship…not much unlike today. Pagans were killed and tortured and forced to celebrate a belief they had no connection to in the name of a monotheistic tyranny. Christian holidays fall on the changes of the seasons because that’s when Pagan holidays fell, they renamed the celebrations, defaced the statues and wrote in saints names over Pagan deities’ names. Easter may be celebrated by Christians but do not fool yourself, the images and iconic representations are of fertility directly related to Spring. Over 6 million Pagans and so called ‘heretics’ were tried, tortured and died in the name of the church, 80% women, all to promote a man of peace…if that isn’t irony, I don’t know what is. Yay! for Jesus. Yay! for those who keep the Pagan rites alive and true. Yay! for humans who do not force themselves on others or try to rewrite history to suit their beliefs.

April 11, 2012 at 2:00 pm
(30) Catherine Beyer says:

In resonse to ravenclaw:

The sites you point to are not academic. Wicca.com in particular has a long history of bad history (I don’t know if it still does, but for the longest time it was preaching the whole “witchcraft is a 25,000 year old religion” nonsense. Witchvox is flaky.

Your link at http://www.englatheod.org/eostre.htm (which at a glance seems by far the most informed in general, as the reconstructionists generally are) seems to back up what I say: that “Eostre” is only mentioned by Bede (who wasn’t pagan), and that much of the information we associate with Eostre comes from the Grimm brothers who are modern. (BTW, Grim also notes that “all of the nations bordering on us have retained the Biblical pascha.” *retained* being a term of particular note. He recognises that calling Easter “pascha” is the older and more used term.)

English is a German language. You’re right in that I am incorrect in saying the issue only exists in English. Was overly shortening the issue because the people I’m addressing speak English. The point is that if you look at the words for Easter in Greek, Romantic languages, Semitic languages, Slavic languages, or even some Germanic languages such as Dutch, many of which were celebrating Easter first, the word doesn’t look anything like “Eostre” or “Easter”. The Germanic people, including the English, are very latecomers to Christianity. Thus, they ended up adopting a different word, but it’s a word for a holiday long established at that point.

June 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm
(31) Anaiya says:

If you think it’s not a Pagan holiday, then that’s your right. Many, many people would disagree and I’m one of them – you see, we use common sense and can see through the propaganda :)

June 14, 2012 at 4:10 pm
(32) Ambiorix says:

The sites you point to are not academic. Wicca.com

Neither is this article it is just your opinion, unless of course you have links to actaul academic papers on this subjecct; if you do then by all means supply them to support your case!

July 30, 2012 at 6:41 pm
(33) Aelfwynne says:

Excuse me, Catherine Beyer, but what are your credentials for being such an expert in the field of Germanic myth and folklore? Because here’s a book by someone actually QUALIFIED to have an opinion on this topic. Philip Shaw has a PhD, is a scholar, historian, and linguist, and teaches Old English Studies at the Uni of Leicester.

Shaw argues there is a multitude of linguist EVIDENCE FOR EOSTRE/OSTARA which has been neglected. I suggest you buy this book and read it before writing ill researched trash like this article again.

The book is Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World:

http://www.amazon.com/Pagan-Goddesses-Early-Germanic-World/dp/0715637975

And here is Dr. Shaw’s professional website:

http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/english/people/drphilipashaw/

August 9, 2012 at 11:17 pm
(34) Catherine Beyer says:

It might be a very interesting read. However, I hope you keep two things in mind:

1) he is a linguist. I’ve never argued that the word Easter doesn’t come from Eostre. Bede blatantly says it comes from Eostre or Eostremonth. But he is talking from hearsay. If Eostre existed, her worship had long since died out by Bede’s writing.

2) Please note the phrase “which has been neglected.” That pretty much states he is supporting a minority opinion. Which certainly doesn’t prove he’s wrong, but does say he is not in the majority, and the majority is formed by people with credentials as impressive as his.

August 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm
(35) can sex help you to lose weight says:

Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
The words in your article seem to be running off the screen
in Opera. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I’d post
to let you know. The style and design look great though!
Hope you get the issue resolved soon. Kudos

September 2, 2012 at 10:47 am
(36) Ambiorix says:

Please note the phrase “which has been neglected.” That pretty much states he is supporting a minority opinion.

Argumentum ad populum.=Logical fallacy! lol!
The goddesses name would actually best be studied form a linguistic point of view and not an historical view; which is far from settled.
What exactly is your professional expertise in this subject? You seem to have provided your opinion as if it is an historical fact.

September 5, 2012 at 5:27 pm
(37) Catherine Beyer says:

I have an MA in history, with a focus on Medieval England. I teach at the college level.

September 18, 2012 at 7:21 pm
(38) Michael Garfield says:

Anyone who has to throw their qualifications in people’s faces to prove that their view is inevitably right whiles other are wrong is the worse kind of academic snob. Whatever the merits of this article you had to ruin it at the end with a slight against England and the English, so it’s obvious that your opinions are coloured by your obvious anti-Englishness – and I’d venture a guess that this is your real reason for your irritation at the mention of Eostre, and that’s because she’s an Anglo-Saxon, i.e. English goddess. While I would agree that Eostre has nothing to do with Eggs and Bunnies, can I point out that this oft-repeated myth mentions hares not rabbits. Still, I suppose the sarcasm was aimed at England and the English too. It is obvious that your irritation lies not with the mention of Eostre, but that she, and therefore Easter’s pagan origins are regarded as originating in England. And if the English were celebrating a pagan festival that was ultimately stolen by the worshippers of a dead Jew on a stick and then sold back to us to help the foisting of their religion on us an easier task, then they weren’t exactly celebrating it before us were they, seeing as pagan beliefs are much older than Christianity

Take your bigotry elsewhere, Anglophobe.

September 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm
(39) Catherine Beyer says:

@michael: Who was that directed at? I gave my qualifications only because I was directly asked for them. (The information is also easily available in my bio on this website.) As for being an Anglophobe, did you miss the bit in my qualifications about focusing on Medieval England? Do you think I focus on it because I hate it? That would be a bizarre approach to academia indeed.

October 7, 2012 at 6:44 pm
(40) Robert says:

if your true intent is to inform and educate then perhaps you’d be willing to admit that you make more than one declaration in your opening and then proceed to support BOTH with an argument based on only one of the premises.

1) Easter is not a pagan holiday.
2) It’s based on the celebration of Eostre

semantics? easter is not a pagan holiday? what is easter? There is no biblical edict to celebrate the crucifixion or resurrection of Christ on a particular day with worship services. Easter was first created during the First Council of Nicaea, in 325 AD, which was the first ecumenical4 conference of bishops of the Christian Church convoked by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, just 13 years after his “conversion” to Christianity following the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312AD. Constantine declared Easter would replace the Hebrew Passover and be observed the annual Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox. This coincided with the date for the ancient day to honor Eostre, a goddess of spring and renewal.
In his letter after the First Council of Nicaea Constantine stated: “… it appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews, who have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin, and are, therefore, deservedly afflicted with blindness of soul. … Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way.” (Eusebius, Life of Constantine)

October 7, 2012 at 6:45 pm
(41) Robert says:

From a letter to the bishops who were not present at the First Council of Nicaea Constantine stated: “It was, in the first place, declared improper to follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this holy festival, because, their hands having been stained with crime, the minds of these wretched men are necessarily blinded. … Let us, then, have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries. … avoiding all contact with that evil way. … who, after having compassed the death of the Lord, being out of their minds, are guided not by sound reason, but by an unrestrained passion, wherever their innate madness carries them. … a people so utterly depraved. … Therefore, this irregularity must be corrected, in order that we may no more have any thing in common with those parricides and the murderers of our Lord. … no single point in common with the perjury of the Jews.” (Theodoret’s Ecclesiastical History)
Pope Gregory I, 540 – 604 AD, verified the practice of the conversion from Passover to Easter in a letter to Saint Mellitus, who was then on his way to England to conduct missionary work among the heathen Anglo-Saxons. The Pope suggests that converting heathens is easier if they are allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional pagan practices and traditions, while recasting those traditions spiritually towards Christianity instead of to their indigenous gods, whom the Pope refers to as “devils”. “to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God”. (Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, “Ecclesiastic History of the English People”)

October 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm
(42) Robert says:

It would have been suicide for the Christian missionaries to celebrate their holy days with observances that did not coincide with celebrations that already existed. To save lives, the missionaries, in a devious clandestine manner, spread their religious message slowly throughout the populations by allowing them to continue to celebrate pagan feasts, but to do so in a Christian manner. Even the name of the ancient celebration, Eastre was adopted and eventually changed to its modern spelling, Easter.
All aspects of the modern celebration of Easter have their origins in ancient fertility rights, including Easter “sunrise services”, Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, and the time it is celebrated. Constantine was even responsible for starting the traditional Easter Parade when he ordered every citizen to wear his or her best clothing to observe the Holy Day.

so argue about YOUR lack of finding any information on Eostre and even argue that easter is not even possibly related in some way, but please do not state that easter and it’s celebratory methods and myths is not based at least in part to the existing pagan holidays of the time.

December 3, 2012 at 5:26 pm
(43) SKWills says:

R Drake, I’m sorry to be so late in response but, you are wrong.

“Just as there is no evidence that Easter was originally a pagan holiday, so too there is no irrefutable evidence that Easter was NOT a pagan holiday but originated in Judaism or anything else.”

Actually, there is evidence that Easter originated in Judaism. For starters, the Holiday is called Pascha, or some variant, in nearly every language in the world. Pascha is Greek for Passover. This is also the older name for it even amongst the Saxons. its only in German and English that there’s any variation on this.

We have most countries calling the Holiday passover, and we have them calling it that since at least the early 2nd Century. We also have records of Christians celebrating Passover from the Second Century that says its an old custom, and clearly linking it to Judaism.

So there’s a lot of evidence linking it to Judaism and from thence to Early Christianity.

meanwhile, nothing connects it to paganism except the English name of the Holiday and a presumptive goddess, combined with fraudulent Historical connections to fertility, eggs, and bunnies.

“Flatly stated, we don’t know. “

But we do know. We have specific documentation of early Christians celebrating Pascha since at least the Early 2nd Century, with clear reference to this being an established custom, and it being directly linked to the Judaic Passover with Christ as the Sacrificial Lamb.

“Just as Kwanzaa is a few decades old made up holiday to honor some group or another, so Ostara, Eostre, or anything else you’d care to call it is just as valid.”

This is a question of History, not validity.

If you want Ostara as a modern, Neo-Pagan Holiday fine, but don’t lie and say that the Christian Easter Holiday is really a stolen Pagan Holiday.

There is a difference.

December 3, 2012 at 5:32 pm
(44) SKWills says:

“Realistically, stories that were nearly verbatim what is found in the Bible have been found in Egyptian tombs that predated the Bible by a very long time.”

No, this isn’t True. I know, I know, I’ve heard it all before. Horus was born of a virgin and was crucified and was exactly like Jesus, right?

Well,t he thing is, you can’t actually cite primary sources for this. All of the claims that Christianity grew out of paganism, and in this case specifically that the stories in the Bible are reworkings of older Egyptian stories, are false. They come from 19th century quacks like Gerald Massey and aren’t treated seriously by actual Scholars.

This claim is simply not True.

“Gnashing your teeth or rending your garments does little to convince anyone that your way is the right way or their way isn’t.”

How about presenting facts? That seems useless too if people are emotionally invested in the Narrative of Evil Christians destroying beautiful pagan cultures and how awful Christianity in general is. you choose to accept Easter as pagan because you want this to be true. You accept a narrative in which everything in Christianity is stolen from pagans because you want it to be true. But its not.

“Get over it and move on. People have the right to celebrate as they wish and so long as they don’t try to choke it down your throat with a door to door visit, as Christian sects do, I personally think, . . . and it harm none, do what ye will””

So in other words, your OK with people bashing Christianity then claiming its all because Christians are attacking Even when its not True.

A lot of modern Wicca is nothing more than just bashing Christianity and this whole “Christains stole everything from pagans” nonsense is used to promote hatred.

Its just another form of bullying. Playing the Victim while attacking your own victim.

December 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm
(45) Ambiorix says:

That is funny he has already provided it!

Well christians only have themselves to blame for this!

December 3, 2012 at 6:33 pm
(46) Ambiorix says:

Well,t he thing is, you can’t actually cite primary sources for this. All of the claims that Christianity grew out of paganism, and in this case specifically that the stories in the Bible are reworkings of older Egyptian stories, are false. They come from 19th century quacks like Gerald Massey and aren’t treated seriously by actual Scholars.

Why don’t you show us actual archaeological evidence that showed Jesus really existed?

December 3, 2012 at 7:08 pm
(47) Ambiorix says:

Although the word “Easter” can be traced back to the name of the ancient British goddess Eostre or Ostara,

You mean Anglo-Saxon not ancient British!

December 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm
(48) SKWills says:

Archaeology proves next to no one existed in History. You mean Historical evidence. And, there’s plenty of Historical evidence for Jesus. Heck, even if the New Testament was all we had, that’s still 27 books by at least 9 Authors. That is more than Socrates, who is written about by only one person, Plato. Th same goes for the usual objection that the sources of Jesus were written years later. Well, that’s also True of Socrates, and for that matter Hannibal who invaded Rome.

Virtually no Historical accounts that survive to our Time were written right after the events.

Still, Paul mentioned people who saw Jesus, most of whom were still alive at the Time he wrote 1 Corinthians. This was about 15 years after the event. Paul said you didn’t have to take his word for it you can ask the Witnesses. If Jesus never existed, that’d be a problem.

Then again, given that the Prophecy was for the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem, you have the other problem of Jesus being from Nazareth. While the Birth Narrative of Jesus in the Gospel of Mathew and the Gospel of Luke explain this, as his family travelled to Bethlehem for a census, if Jesus was a purely fictional Character you could have simply had his parents be from Bethlehem, and this be where they always lived. So why bother contriving a story in which he’s from Nazareth? And please don’t repeat rubbish about Nazarth not existing in the First Century, it did. Archeological evidence ( In this case yes it is relevant) shows the city had been lived in for at least two centuries before the Time of Christ, its simply not mentioned in many surviving ( The operative word is surviving) texts as it was unimportant. Also, if you run with the idea that Nazareth didn’t exist at all you’d have to explain why people believed the Gospel story in the First Place.

And it still doesn’t clear up the whole matter of why not just have his parents be from Bethlehem.

December 3, 2012 at 9:15 pm
(49) SKWills says:

It’s more plausible that the Birth Narrative is a later addition, made to conform to the Prophecy of a Virgin Birth and him being born in Bethlehem, when he was really from Nazareth the whole Time, than that he was an invention. ( And yes Almah could mean Virgin, and that is how the LXX translates it for a reason) and the need to place him in Bethlehem

Also, if you really think about it, rather than suppose the Jesus Myth has credibility just because you don’t like Christianity, then why didn’t any of Christianities first century Critics like Rabbi Gameleil bother to mention that Jesus never existed? Some even outright lived in Jerusalem. While they condemned Christians in all kinds of ways, from breaking the Laws of Moses and encouraging others to do so, to Idolatry in making a man into God, you never find any of them challenge Jesus’s actual existence. All it’d have taken was for one of Christianity’s critics who were in Jerusalem to say”You know, I don’t remember him ever being here”. None do this.

We also know that Christianity grew rapidly from a central matrix in Jerusalem from the First Century. Religions base don Mythical figures take centuries to develop, with the god placed further back in Time. Jesus was being spoken of in the First Century and the movement developed rapidly.

December 3, 2012 at 9:17 pm
(50) SKWills says:

This would have been impossible if no one were at the centre of it all.

I know that nothing I’e said will convince you since you simply hate Christianity and like the idea that Jesus never existed, and you’ll say I’m wrong, or that I
m biased. Im not, the same evidence that exists for Jesus would convince me that anyone existed. We actually have less about the Prophet Muhammad than Jesus and I am convinced he was a real man, and I believe Apollonius of Rhodes was a real man base don one highly exaggerated Biography. That’s becsuse the alternative makes no sense.

Why make up a saviour only to have him from the wrong city, and contrive an explanation of why that is? And why would anyone believe the message of Jesus who was alive in living memory but no one personally met?

The movement grew too rapidly and the fictional Christ theory makes no sense.

Plus, you have outside sources like Josephus. No, the Testamonium reference to Jesus is not Universally agreed upon to be a forgery. In fact, Peter Kirby, an Agnostic, did a survey and found that most Scholars accept that Josephus did indeed write about Jesus, though the passage was later amended by a Christian redactor. This is especially True after the discovery of an Early Araimic version of Josephus, which has the passage about Jesus but in a different form, void of praise. For instance, instead of “He was the Christ’ it says “He was called the Christ”.

I’m sorry but, given the evidence, the idea that Jeuss never existed can’t be sustained. The only reason you carry the idea around as viable is because you like it as it helps you to undermine Christianity. There’s no logical reason to adhere to it.

December 3, 2012 at 9:19 pm
(51) SKWills says:

Also, the “Christians have only themselves to blame” crack assumes that Christians relaly did go aout oppressing and kiling those who didnt go along with them. But this narrative is a Pseudohistory.

December 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm
(52) SWills says:

Robert-

“It would have been suicide for the Christian missionaries to celebrate their holy days with observances that did not coincide with celebrations that already existed. To save lives, the missionaries, in a devious clandestine manner, spread their religious message slowly throughout the populations by allowing them to continue to celebrate pagan feasts, but to do so in a Christian manner. “

Not really.

Easter originally came from the Jewish passover, not a pagan Holiday.

“Even the name of the ancient celebration, Eastre was adopted and eventually changed to its modern spelling, Easter.”

Then why is it that Christians didn’t actually call it this until they got to England? For that matter,why is it only Easter in England?

Most languages either call the Holiday Pascha or some variant of Pascha. Pascha means passover in Greek.

Eostre didn’t have any influence on what the Early Church which was being persecuted called the Holiday, an instead 600 years go by with no one calling it Eostre till they manage to settle in England where they weren’t persecuted.

“All aspects of the modern celebration of Easter have their origins in ancient fertility rights, including Easter “sunrise services”, Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, and the time it is celebrated.”

No they don’t.

Easter is linked to Passover. Passover is celebrated on the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Jewish months always begin with a New moon and 14 days later is a full Moon. Passover is on the 14th day of Nisan.

Christians celebrate the Resurrection on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox as this is after Passover when Jesus was Crucified.

The date has nothing to do with paganism.

As for Sunrise Services, the first recorded one is from 1732. that means its highlyunlikely to be pagan in origin.

December 3, 2012 at 10:11 pm
(53) SWills says:

Easter Eggs can be traced back tot he 13th century AD. They were a Christian creation, not a Pagan one. The Easter Bunny is specifically a protestant one, and not used in most countries. Really its just a German Custom that made its way to America and to the UK. There is no Easter Bunny in Spain, for example. The Bunny was created to explain the eggs to Protestant Children without going into Lent, which they had abandoned.

See, during Lent you don’t eat eggs. During Holy Week, the eggs that will be consumed on Easter Sunday when the fast ends are laid. They were also though of as special given they were laid during Holy Week. This is why people began to die them Red, and eventually different colours, not because of pagan fertility rites.

Check the Encyclopedia Britannica.

“Constantine was even responsible for starting the traditional Easter Parade when he ordered every citizen to wear his or her best clothing to observe the Holy Day. “

Er, wearing your best clothing isn’t what constitutes a parade.

I also don’t see a source for this. Sure, I’ve seen Websites make this claim, but none of them from actual Historians. With so many Myths about Constantine passed around, I’d like to see some actual evidence for this.

“so argue about YOUR lack of finding any information on Eostre and even argue that easter is not even possibly related in some way, but please do not state that easter and it’s celebratory methods and myths is not based at least in part to the existing pagan holidays of the time.”

They aren’t, and you didn’t show them to be, you just asserted that they were without evidence.

December 4, 2012 at 7:10 am
(54) Ambiorix says:

Wills says:

No I dion’t mena historical evidence if I’d meant that i would have said so!

Just hearsay and compleely irrelevant!

Yes they do, you don’t know what you are talking about!

December 4, 2012 at 7:36 am
(55) Ambiorix says:

SKWills says:

Also, the “Christians have only themselves to blame” crack assumes that Christians relaly did go aout oppressing and kiling those who didnt go along with them. But this narrative is a Pseudohistory.

Really?

December 4, 2012 at 10:54 am
(56) Ambiorix says:

I think this site should be renamed to CatherineBeyer’sopinion.com!

December 4, 2012 at 7:24 pm
(57) Ambiorix says:

What about the Austriahenae?

December 9, 2012 at 10:27 pm
(58) SWills says:

AMBiorix, simply saying that I’m wrong doesn’t meanthat I’m wrong.

December 9, 2012 at 10:27 pm
(59) SWills says:

AMBiorix, simply saying that I’m wrong doesn’t meanthat I’m wrong.

December 9, 2012 at 10:27 pm
(60) SWills says:

AMBiorix, simply saying that I’m wrong doesn’t meanthat I’m wrong.

December 9, 2012 at 10:46 pm
(61) SKWills says:

Ambiorix, simply declaring that I’m wrong doesn’t prove that I’m wrong.

January 25, 2013 at 6:15 am
(62) Nerissa says:

Not discovered until 1958 is a piece of evidence furnished by over 150 Romano-Germanic votive inscriptions to deities named the matron Austriahenea, found near Morken-Harff and datable to around 150-250 AD”. Most of these inscriptions are in an incomplete state, yet are complete enough for reasonable clarity of the inscriptions. As early as 1966 scholars have linked these names etymologically with Eostre.
I repeat….That’s 150-250 AD.

January 25, 2013 at 6:28 am
(63) Nerissa says:

“The historical record of Eostre is incredibly small: a single reference ”
WRONG…
A key piece of evidence, not discovered until 1958, is furnished by over 150 Romano-Germanic votive inscriptions to deities named the matron Austriahenea, found near Morken-Harff and datable to around 150-250 AD”. Most of these inscriptions are in an incomplete state, yet are complete enough for reasonable clarity of the inscriptions. As early as 1966 scholars have linked these names etymologically with Eostre.

January 25, 2013 at 6:43 am
(64) Nerissa says:

Referencing the above comment, Bede’s was born in 672, these inscriptions date 150-250.
Further,
In the English Bible, Acts 12:4, the word “Easter” actually appears. Hmmm….if that’s not incorporating Eostre into Christianity, I don’t know what is!

January 25, 2013 at 7:09 am
(65) Cindy C says:

Christians seeking to police the ways in which holidays are conceptualized and lived are hoping to reestablish clear cultural control.
Unlike most Christian communities, Neo-Pagan traditions are not at all evangelical. They do not assume a mandate to make their worldview everyone else’s worldview, and they do not actively seek converts.

February 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm
(66) Catherine Beyer says:

That the word Easter shows up in the English Bible suggests absolutely nothing. The Bible was only written in English about 400 years ago. It’s a translation, and the translator chose to use the word “Easter,” since the English Christians were calling the holiday Easter. Most translations say Passover. http://bible.cc/acts/12-4.htm

The fact that someone chose to use “Easter” in the last 400 years has nothing to do with what people were calling the holiday 2000 years ago, or even 1500 years ago or 1000 years ago. IT doesn’t say anything about where the word Easter came from, and it certainly doesn’t say what the word “eostre” means.

As for your other posts, you include the phrases “As early as 1966 scholars have linked these names etymologically with Eostre.” What you don’t say is what your source says “Eostre” means. It also doesn’t address how often the word “Eostre” exists in writing. Clearly your source is talking aobut another word entirely (otherwise they wouldn’t say etymologically linked. “Easter” is etymologically linked too, but that doesn’t address question at hand.)

Now, it’s a potentially interesting piece of information, and maybe the source is relevant (I don’t know as I haven’t read it), but the bit you’ve scavenged doesn’t really prove much *on its own*.

February 10, 2013 at 3:52 pm
(67) Ravenna says:

While the article had potential to be informative, you went about it in a rather mean-spirited way. Stating that you have to “put up with” and “grind your teeth” and even “stop presuming world practices revolve around what went on in England”, is rude, uncalled for and makes it look as though you honestly don’t know what you’re talking about… even IF you have an MA and teach at the college level. And happen to be neopagan. The simple fact of the matter is, that a lot of people practice Easter in one form or another. Be it the Christian celebration of Jesus’ birth, or a rite celebrating the vernal equinox and the return of more light and sunshine. A lot of them have bunnies, chocolate and candies in common. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure where those came in from, but I would assume that since eggs are laid more commonly the closer we get to the vernal equinox, the robin’s blue eggs come immediately to mind; and the animals are beginning to mate (ever heard the phrase “Mad as a March Hare”? From what I understand that actually came from people noticing rabbits mating like crazy.

February 10, 2013 at 3:53 pm
(68) Ravenna says:

to finish…

So who the heck care if some guy who is long dead and probably didn’t have much to work with outside his own little corner of the world (I love the internet, so much information to choose from!) says that Eostre is only mentioned once? It just may be that he wasn’t aware of more mentionings. Or he could be right, and Eostre is a “myth”. Kind of like the nonexistant god “Samain”. Who knows? Who actually cares? For me, I will worship whom I choose, I will practice what I choose… and honestly, I LIKE Eostre, she’s kind of like a Germanic version of the Greek “Eos”; spring, dawn, light, life. I like thinking of Her and Her bunnies and brightly colored eggs!

Like I said, the article had potential, but you were very antagonistic about it. I think I’ll stick to reading Patti Wigington over at the Pagan/Wiccan section of about.com. She can be blunt, but as a typical rule, she’s not a – pardon the pun – “witch” about it.

Blessings,
~ Ravenna

February 21, 2013 at 8:23 pm
(69) rhonwyn says:

Try checking Germanic and Norse mythology love.

March 6, 2013 at 3:25 pm
(70) J says:

Christianity and most major religions all have pagan roots! Read a book that is not written with your point of view in mind. What does the resurrection of Christ have to do with eggs and rabbits?

March 8, 2013 at 5:45 am
(71) gmorris says:

Easter is all about spending money on tacky gifts. In the same way that Christmas is all about commercialism. Pause for the heckle of ‘Scrooge’ (Victorian method for the unwitting to lampast the non-conformist consumer).
How many indignant posters actually attend church (whatever faith)?

March 10, 2013 at 3:50 pm
(72) Catherine Beyer says:

J: Where does Christian belief say anything about rabbits? Folk practices does not equal Christian practices. And everything that is not expressly Christian should not be labeled “pagan.” There’s an awful lot of stuff that falls into neither category.

Pagans used candles. Does that mean candles are pagan?

As for eggs, they are a symbol of life and resurrection. Pretty Easter-like.

Different systems of thought can also share symbols. That doesn’t make it a plot. The relation between Christianity, general culture, and other religions is complex. ‘it’s all pagan” is a painfully inaccurate generalization.

And just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean I’m not well read.

March 17, 2013 at 12:32 pm
(73) Adrian Bott says:

In case anybody’s interested, the often-asserted ‘Eostre Bunny’ can now be clearly shown to be the result of folklorists copying erroneously from one another, and not a genuine myth at all:

http://cavalorn.livejournal.com/585924.html

March 17, 2013 at 5:23 pm
(74) Thebaldguy says:

History belongs to the victors. No surprises about the lack of documentation. Didn’t early Christians execute non believers once they stopped being persecuted?

March 17, 2013 at 7:07 pm
(75) Adrian Bott says:

In this instance, the one and only documentation there is concerning Eostre comes FROM a Christian – the Venerable Bede.

Victorian folklorists are responsible for most of what is commonly believed today concerning ‘pagan origins’. It’s not all codswallop, but a staggering amount of it is. And I say that as a heathen myself.

Unfortunately, because there’s no historical evidence for the ‘pagan origins’ material that gets circulated, people try to come up with other explanations for how come they’ve ended up encountering said material – no smoke without fire, right? So they end up assuming that there used to be evidence but the Christians destroyed it all, though ‘oral traditions’ or ‘secret pagan practices’ have somehow heroically persisted (managing to escape any sort of documentation over the centuries, because they’re just that secret) only to suddenly explode into popular consciousness at the arse end of the 20th century.

The far more prosaic reality is that people made up these explanations based on a limited (and badly outdated) Victorian perspective on anthropology and circulated them to people who, not knowing any better, and circulated them on even further. People are still making up new ‘pagan origins’ stuff even to this day, which is being passed off as ancient. Look, for example, at the habit of calling the Autumn Equinox ‘Mabon’, which was definitely invented by Aidan Kelly in the 1970s, and yet is claimed to be an ancient tradition.

It’s always awkward when a faith agenda clashes with an academic discipline such as history or biology. Claiming that your faith entitles you to make assertions about the past is exactly what creationists do; it would be a dark day for paganism if people’s need to cling to treasured beliefs led them to hold the work of historians in contempt.

March 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm
(76) May-weather says:

Very poor article with little research involved. I think you should take your bag of lies and leave the internet before you poison more idiots minds. Try telling a family with nothing but Pagan heritage your load of crap and find out how wrong you are. All Christian holidays are stolen, full of crap and poorly named. The only original thing Christian’ s have ever done in the name of religion is rape, pillage and kill.

March 21, 2013 at 10:46 am
(77) Myc O. Fyle says:

you are quite mistaken. Easter..from Eostre..also called the OSTARA and is sacred to Eostre the Saxon Lunar Goddess of fertility (from whence we get the word estrogen, whose two symbols were the egg and the rabbit.)”
Not only is there a holiday …but it is very clearly named for the goddess herself.
and it has LONG been celebrated with decorating and hiding of eggs..as well as traditional PAGAN meals of ham or lamb.

Do the research next time.

March 21, 2013 at 3:15 pm
(78) Adrian Bott says:

How ironic that people crying ‘do the research’ are clearly unaware of the research that has already been done which supports the OP’s position.

And the best of it is, many of us doing that research and debunking are pagan ourselves. Being a pagan doesn’t mean you have to be an ignorant parrot repeating everything you read on the Internet.

Long article stripping the Eostre myths from the facts: http://cavalorn.livejournal.com/502368.html

Debunking the ‘Eostre’s Hare’ fakelore: http://cavalorn.livejournal.com/585924.html

March 23, 2013 at 5:00 am
(79) HonorBound says:

Wow! There was no effort put into this article. The “Myth of Eostre”…really… is she any more of a myth than Jesus? Eostre who is known by many different names such as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, etc, was either a goddess of fertility who represented rebirth or the name of a festival celebrating the coming of new life–the changing from winter to spring. Symbols that were associated with her (or maybe just associated with springtime) were eggs and rabbits (or hares)…two symbols of rebirth and fertility. There is conflicting information because as with many pagan gods or rituals…the records are scarce.
However, like I point out to many Christians, show me in the Holy Bible where a 6 foot rabbit carrying a basket of eggs has anything to do with the resurrection of Jesus.
Regardless if Eostre was a goddess or just the name of a celebration, Easter is derived from pagan rituals—practices that Christians still carry on today.

March 23, 2013 at 10:44 am
(80) Heather Grantham says:

“Stop repeating the fallacy. Please. And stop presuming world practices revolve around what went on in England.” says the woman writing the article in English.

March 24, 2013 at 7:09 pm
(81) Catherine Beyer says:

@Myc: If you feel the research is there, providing a reference is hugely helpful here.

@Honor: The lack of a 6 foot rabbit in the bible does not magically make it pagan. Can you quote a pagan myth with a 6 foot rabbit? The rabbit this is folk practice. I’ve never heard a Christian claim the rabbit is Christian. But that doesn’t automatically make it pagan. It’s not boolean.

@heather: you seem to be falling prey to exactly what I was warning against.

March 25, 2013 at 4:20 am
(82) Adrian Bott says:

There is no evidence for Eostre having been associated with eggs or hares. Zip. Nada. None.

We have no images, no accounts, no legends, no myths. Apart from Bede’s two sentences, we have no Eostre lore at ALL, and he only gives us her name.

Fortunately, her name DOES allow us to draw some hesitant conclusions, based on linguistic roots. She may well have been a dawn-goddess; or, as Dr Shaw suggests, a goddess local to Kent.

But for the love of sweet Demeter, will people please stop yelling ‘do the research’ when they clearly haven’t done any themselves? Simply repeating stuff you’ve read on the Internet is not ‘research’. Try looking into the actual sources of that information. Instead of believing everything you read, find out which sources the author used.

For example, if you look into the widespread belief that Eostre’s symbol was a hare, you soon discover that this belief begins in 1874 with a German folklorist called Adolf Holzmann – and he says clearly that he is guessing at possible explanations for the Easter Bunny legend, not stating a known fact. ‘Probably the hare was the sacred animal of Ostara,’ he says. But then people started to quote him as if he’d been certain, rather than guessing; which is why you now get people everywhere insisting that Eostre’s sacred animal was the hare, despite there being zero evidence for this.

March 25, 2013 at 12:32 pm
(83) Walt says:

It’s no secret the Church usurped the old pagan holidays. Where DID the name Easter come from and why all the bunny’s and eggs?

March 25, 2013 at 3:18 pm
(84) Darrell says:

How about the fact that rabbits and eggs are fertility symbols. And that fertility goddess goes all the way back to the old testament Ashtoreth. The name has changed as it went to different areas and languages. Jesus was crucified at the time of Passover. This is not the same thing as easter. Ive seen it listed on several sites that Passover and easter are the same thing. The early church didnt celebrate easter or christmas. You can think the roman catholic church for these.

March 25, 2013 at 8:20 pm
(85) merryn says:

Bunnies and eggs couldn’t be any more blatantly pagan/fertility ritual if they tried.

March 25, 2013 at 11:42 pm
(86) Q says:

I like how this crops up every year. I bet you regret writing the article now that you’ve been talking about it three years running.

March 26, 2013 at 5:19 am
(87) Adrian Bott says:

Okay, let’s talk about bunnies and eggs.

Saying ‘bunnies and eggs are fertility symbols’ is like saying ‘fnuzzwangle means railway station’. The immediate question is ‘In what language?’

So, if you claim that bunnies and eggs are symbols of anything, then the obvious question is ‘In what culture?’

You can’t just claim that something is used as a symbol without specifying in which culture it is used as a symbol. Remember, rabbits and eggs are, in themselves, nothing but rabbits and eggs. They have no inherent symbolism. An object only becomes a symbol when someone uses it as such.

Just because rabbits and eggs make you personally think of pleasantly pagan things does NOT mean that they were used in any pre-Christian symbolic system.

So, if you are going to make such claims, please provide the following information to substantiate them:

In which specific culture are rabbits and eggs used as symbols of fertility?
Are these symbols visual or literary?
What evidence can you ofer for this?
How much of your conclusion is based on speculation, and how much upon direct evidence?

For example, if I were to say ‘Bats are used in Chinese art to symbolise luck’, I could easily back that up by linking you to plenty of artwork and contemporary statements showing the role played by bats.

March 26, 2013 at 10:57 am
(88) Carol says:

Why does it bother you that Christian holidays were based at times of the year that people of that time could understand, based on their beliefs before Christianity? Combining lore of old religions with the new religion is how ANY religion ever got passed along. You may want to do some more research about Ostara, even Ishtar, as far as origins for the Christian Easter…Bede has very little to do with any of it.

“The vernal equinox, often called Ostara, inaugurates the new year on the Zodiacal calendar. From this point the day overcomes the night. It is widely recognized by many mythologies as the time of rebirth or return for vegetation gods (e.g. Attis) and is celebrated as a time of great fertility.[13][16]

Egg decorating is a very common tradition in vernal celebration throughout Europe.[13][16]

The holiday is strongly associated with fertility goddess Ostara (the eastern star). She is notably associated with the fecund symbols of the hare and egg. Her teutonic name may be etymological ancestor of the words east and Easter.”
(from Wikipedia, but there are lots of other internet sources for research on this topic)

March 26, 2013 at 8:41 pm
(89) NMP says:

Xstians stole all holidays and changed them to fit their lies. The sooner YOU accept that the world DOES NOT revolve around Xstianity and it’s stupid fables, the happier we’ll all be.

March 28, 2013 at 2:24 am
(90) stellamaris says:

haha…we can debate about sources and historians and etymology and which traditions preceeded what and who stole whose holiday(-”It’s MY holiday!”) till the end of time, but let’s consider the OBVIOUS here: for ages, people of many traditions have been celebrating a holiday which falls(roughly) within the first month of spring, using symbols that all follow a common theme:eggs/chicks=new life, rabbits=fertility(hence, plenty of new fluffy baby bunnies), Resurrection of Christ=new life. There’s a reason that a majority of modern-day Christians feel comfortable waking their kids up to an Easter basket before going to the Sunday service to celebrate finding new life in Christ, and then having an Easter egg hunt. Because all of those symbols and traditions are congruent, and resonate equally with us humans.
So what came first?…what are we celebrating?…what’s it all about? It’s about Spring!(-duh!)We are all just celebrating spring, each in our own ways. No one can claim ownership of the holiday-it’s for everyone. If you believe it’s all about Christ or whatever…if so, then God chose the perfect time of year for him to be resurrected, didn’t he? No matter, though…why don’t we just dispense with these petty trifles and celebrate the fact that new life is emerging again, hm?
Sincerely,
Another human who is also thrilled about seeing bright green leaves and flowers emerging, milder weather, and cute baby animals…and has no problem with whatever stories you want to attach to your spring rites, so long as it brings you deeper meaning/doesn’t mean I’ll be burned at the stake for what I just said!

March 28, 2013 at 11:07 am
(91) Cnochur says:

Ms. Beyer, the problem isn’t with the factual accuracy of your article. The problem is the implication. When people point out that Easter is, like so many Christian holidays, simply an appropriation of a previously celebrated holiday, that’s what they’re pointing out. If you want to harangue people about the specifics, do so in a way that doesn’t imply their entire point is wrong, when you know it isn’t.

March 28, 2013 at 3:14 pm
(92) Mike says:

“And the Romantic language speakers have been celebrating Easter far longer than the English.”

Based on what? Earlier conversion to Christianity? I think I smell a logical fallacy here…

March 28, 2013 at 7:50 pm
(93) Rebecca says:

I find this debate very intriguing. Many people are arguing about Christianity without biblical backup. After all, the bible does provide the basis for Christian belief. Deuteronomy 12:29-32 says “When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.”
It doesn’t matter if Eostre was an actual goddess or how long ago she was worshipped, the question to ask is does Easter, as celebrated today, borrow from non-Christian worship of other gods or things? Keep in mind that any festival God commanded his people to celebrate he gave instructions – Leviticus 23:6-14, Leviticus 23:34-43, Numbers 29:12-38, Deuteronomy 16:13-15.
Now how about Easter? You may take the stance that no one knows exactly where the eggs and rabbits came from but you cannot debate the fact that it didn’t come from God’s word the bible. The other thing you cannot debate is the fact that God never commanded we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Yes the resurrection is in the bible but Jesus disciples commemorated his death. After all it was Jesus’ death as a perfect man that paid for our sins. If Easter traditions didn’t come from the bible then you can logically conclude that Easter traditions are man’s traditions and you can read Jesus’ opinion about man’s traditions at Mark 7:1-9.

March 28, 2013 at 7:53 pm
(94) Rebecca says:

You may now take the stance that humans have a lot of traditions that aren’t promoted in the bible so what’s the big deal? It’s the origins of those traditions we have to consider. Keeping in mind Easter was not commanded in the bible something to read about is Emperor Constantine’s influence on the early churches surrounding the celebration. Emperor Constantine was the first so called Christian Roman emperor but was he truly Christian? Historical documents show he was a false Christian. How so? To celebrate the victory in the Battle of Milvain Bridge Constantine built the Arch of Constantine which displays the goddess Victoria. Also when the arch was dedicated sacrifices to gods like Apollo, Diana, and Hercules were made. Another example of Constantine’s false Christianity is when in 321 he declared Christians and non-Christians observe the venerable day of the sun, in other words a day to worship the sun. From a Christian view why do Constantine’s actions qualify him as a false Christian? God said at Exodus 34:14 in the American Standard Bible For thou shalt worship no other God; for Jehovah Jealous is his name is a jealous God. Consider the scripture Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them, for I Jehovah thy God am a jealous God… Does Constantine sound like someone God would lead by holy spirit to carry out God’s will? Based off what the bible says about how God is, you would have no choice but to conclude Constantine would not have been approved by God while worshipping other Gods. Consider Matthew 7:15-19 “…by their fruits you will recognize them….. every rotten tree produces worthless fruit.” Therefore anything coming from Constantine, a worshiper of false gods / pagan, would have been worthless.
God commanded that we Worship in spirit and truth – John 4:24 – and rabbits don’t lay eggs and hide them so using those symbols in worship to God on Easter is in vain.

March 29, 2013 at 9:11 am
(95) Dan says:

Yes, and a dead guy rising from the dead is SOOO much more believable

March 29, 2013 at 9:44 am
(96) Mikeygreenman says:

Why does any of it matter?
Who it is about or what it is about should have no impact on how we treat each other.
Its the religious fanatics of the world that cause
most of the problems.
So really does it matter where easter comes from?
Is there not more pressing matters to attend to in your lives?
Just sayin.

March 30, 2013 at 12:09 pm
(97) Vulf says:

You kind of F***** up on this one, but hey if you want to worship the Zombie Jew go for it.

March 30, 2013 at 2:41 pm
(98) Alex Sofronia says:

Before mass religions we followed the sun and moon and stars. Pagan can be call all the people in europe praising such gods. most of our ancestors were pagan. Jesus is great but the religion build on his image is just that. Blessed day Earth child.

March 30, 2013 at 8:14 pm
(99) Joe Pawlak says:

Equating Eostre with Easter makes just as much sense as the Christian defintion.

April 3, 2013 at 4:23 pm
(100) uillceal says:

I like Stellamaris comment 89. That says it all.

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