Is Easter really a Christian Holiday?

As many of you know Easter is right around the corner. And as with most Christian holiday’s and traditions, Easter doesn’t stem from Christian beliefs originally. We can bring it all back to Paganism. So, I thought it would be fun if we talked about the actual origins of Easter.

Firstly we should address the fact that most scholars, even biblical ones, agree that Easter was founded by pagan traditions and festivals. The word Easter is thought to be a derivative of the word Eastra, the springtime goddess. Pagans would make sacrifices to this goddess during the time Christians today celebrate Passover. Despite the fact that most scholars agree it is based on a pagan festival, it is not necessarily agreed which festival.

Due to the fact that Easter is about the death and rebirth of Jesus Christ, some believe that it is taken from the symbolism of the death and return of the sun. Then others believe that Easter is taken from the pagan story of *Tammuz and Ishtar (story will be inserted below)

A very common thought process is Easter got its traditions from the sabbat Ostara, the spring equinox. A very important aspect of Ostara is the idea of renewal which is essentially what the Christian’s Easter is all about.

Now, let’s talk about the traditions celebrated at Easter and where they come from. So firstly lets talk about the rabbit. The rabbit is a very big symbol in Easter. We have the Easter bunny as well as chocolate bunnies that people eat. Bunny’s are also a popular gift to give as pets during this time (which is a whole other issue of it’s own). But where does the symbolism of the bunny really come from? Rabbits are actually associated with the spring time goddess Eostre which would be a deity that many Pagans worship during this time of year. They’re also symbols of fertility which is a big part of what Ostara is about. Another symbol associated with Easter is the egg. The reason for this is similar to that of the bunny. The egg represents spring due to the fact that it is a symbol of fertility and renewal. There is also a legend that says the Goddess Ostara healed a wounded bird by changing it into a hare. However the hare was still part bird and showed it’s gratitude to the goddess by laying eggs for her as gifts.

*When Tammuz dies, Ishtar is grief–stricken and follows him to the underworld. In the underworld, she enters through seven gates, and her worldly attire is removed. “Naked and bowed low” she is judged, killed, and then hung on display. In her absence, the earth loses its fertility, crops cease to grow and animals stop reproducing. Unless something is done, all life on earth will end.

After Ishtar has been missing for three days her assistant goes to other gods for help. Finally one of them Enki, creates two creatures who carry the plant of life and water of life down to the Underworld, sprinkling them on Ishtar and Tammuz, resurrecting them, and giving them the power to return to the earth as the light of the sun for six months. After the six months are up, Tammuz returns to the underworld of the dead, remaining there for another six months, and Ishtar pursues him, prompting the water god to rescue them both. Thus were the cycles of winter death and spring life.

Thank you for checking out today’s post! I hope you learned something new. What do you think the origins of Easter are? Let me know in the comments along with any other thoughts or questions you have. Also make sure to follow me here and on twitter to get notifications when I post and when I upload videos to youtube. And until next time, Blessed Be!

Ostara Ritual

Hi everyone! I hope you all are having a lovely Ostara. You may be looking for a ritual to do today and if you are here is one I found from thoughtco.com.

In addition to decorating your altar, you’ll need the following:

Perform this ritual outside if at all possible, in the early morning as the sun rises. It’s spring, so it may be a bit chilly, but it’s a good time to reconnect with the earth. If your tradition normally requires you to cast a circle, do so now.

  • Three candles: one yellow, one green, and one purple
  • A bowl of milk
  • A small bowl of honey or sugar

Perform Your Ritual

Begin by taking a moment to focus on the air around you. Inhale deeply, and see if you can smell the change in the seasons. Depending on where you live, the air may have an earthy aroma, or a rainy one, or even smell like green grass. Sense the shift in energy as the Wheel of the Year has turned. Light the green candle, to symbolize the blossoming earth. As you light it, say:

The Wheel of the Year turns once more,
and the vernal equinox arrives.
Light and dark are equal,
and the soil begins to change.
The earth awakes from its slumber,
and new life springs forth once more.

Next, light the yellow candle, representing the sun. As you do so, say:

 

The sun draws ever closer to us,
greeting the earth with its welcoming rays.
Light and dark are equal,
and the sky fills with light and warmth.
The sun warms the land beneath our feet,
and gives life to all in its path.

 

Finally, light the purple candle. This one represents the Divine in our lives–whether you call it a god or a goddess, whether you identify it by name or simply as a universal life force, this is the candle which stands for all the things we do not know, all those things we cannot understand, but that are the sacred in our daily lives. As you light this candle, focus on the Divine around and within you. Say:

 

Spring has come! For this, we are thankful!
The Divine is present all around,
in the cool fall of a rain storm,
in the tiny buds of a flower,
in the down of a newborn chick,
in the fertile fields waiting to be planted,
in the sky above us,
and in the earth below us.
We thank the universe* for all it has to offer us,
and are so blessed to be alive on this day.
Welcome, life! Welcome, light! Welcome, spring!

 

Take a moment and meditate on the three flames before you and what they symbolize. Consider your own place within these three things–the earth, the sun, and the Divine. How do you fit into the grand scheme of things? How do you find balance between light and dark in your own life?

 

Finally, blend the milk and honey together, mixing gently. Pour it onto the ground around your altar space as an offering to the earth**. As you do, you may wish to say something like:

 

I make this offering to the earth,
As thanks for the many blessings I have received,
And those I shall some day receive.

 

Once you have made your offering, stand for a minute facing your altar. Feel the cool earth beneath your feet, and the sun on your face. Take in every sensation of this moment, and know that you are in a perfect place of balance between light and dark, winter and summer, warmth and cold — a time of polarity and harmony.

 

When you are ready, end the ritual.

 

*Instead of “the Universe,” feel free to insert the name of your patron deity or the gods of your tradition here.

 

**If you’re doing this rite indoors, take your bowl of milk and honey and pour it in your garden, or around your yard.

 

I hope you all enjoy this ritual! Let me know what you will be doing for the sabbat today in the comments below along with any other thoughts or comments you may have. Make sure you follow me here and on twitter so you get notifications when I post and when I upload videos to youtube. Until next time, Blessed Be!