I love the traditions and celebrations that punctuate our calendar and find the symbolism, history and philosophy behind them fascinating. ~
The origins of the word Easter are said to come from the pagan tradition of worshipping the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre. Bede tells us the Anglo-Saxon name for April was Eostre-Monath (the month of openings). Over time Easter became part of the English language and was adopted by English speaking Christians, however in many European languages the word for Easter is derived from the word Passover – Pascha in Greek and Latin, Pasqua in Italian, Paques in French and Pascua in Spanish.
With the advent of Christianity in the early 1st and 2nd centuries the resurrection of Christ was remembered and celebrated with the word Pascha, derived from and linked to the Jewish spring festival of Passover, or Pesach, which had been celebrated for many centuries to commemorate the time of Moses leading the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. This liberation led to the beginning of Judaism.
These connections and links survive today in the form of two distinct symbolism: fertility and re-birth. Celebrating the goddess Eostre gives us re-birth symbolised by the egg, and the hare which in turn became the Easter bunny. Of course in both the Christian and Jewish faiths eggs, and thereby rebirth, play their part too with the Christian tradition of giving chocolate eggs at Easter to symbolise the re-birth of Christ and the hard-boiled eggs served on Passover to symbolise the freedom of the people of Israel. Fascinating!
After a cold and frosty start in Suffolk this morning the sun is shining in a pale blue sky streaked with subtle whispers of cloud. Perfect. Wherever you are in the world, whatever your beliefs and whichever way you celebrate Easter have a good one and enjoy this most wonderful time of year.