Sunday, 12 April 2009

Happy Easter!

Today is Easter Sunday and the date of the Feast of the Resurrection in the Christian calendar. So why post about it on a blog about Christmas? Well, quite simply, because for early Christians, Christmas itself was not celebrated in any special way. Little fuss was made of the date, which wasn’t even fixed at any particular time of year! For these Christians, the most important time in the Church calendar was Easter, when Christ’s conquest of death and subsequent resurrection were celebrated.

And just like the celebration of the Feast of the Nativity, Easter usurped already existing pagan festivals to make the transition to the new Christian religion smoother.

The modern English term Easter comes from the Old English word Eastre or Eostre or Eoaster. The name refers to Eostur-monath, a month of the Germanic calendar named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre. Eostur-monath was the equivalent to the month of April, with feasts beign held for the goddess at this time.

Some theories connect Eostre with records of Germanic folk custom, which include hares and eggs, hence the presence of the Easter Bunny and everyone's favourite chocolate treat at this time of year.