- Toby Inkster
- easter; history; religion
According to the venerable Bede, the term "Easter" comes from the Old English word for what we now call "April". "Eostre-Monath" was "the month of Eostre".
Of course, back then months were calculated based on the lunar cycle, which is why Easter is calculated using a thoroughly pagan method: it's the first weekend on or after the first full moon after the spring equinox.
Eostre is the old Germanic equivalent of the Roman goddess Aurora, or in Greek, Eos. According to Greek legend, Eos is the sister of Helios, the sun. Every day, she opens the gates of heaven so that her brother can ride across the sky -- Eos represents the dawn. It is not surprising that April, the time when the long nights of winter are ebbing away should come to be associated with Eos.
Nor is it surprising that at this time of year, when animals are starting to breed again after the winter, symbols of fertility such as eggs, chicks and bunny rabbits are frequently seen.
What is surprising is that some people actually seem to think it's the anniversary of Jesus doing something. Since when do anniversaries move about every year? What is surprising is that some people seem to think that spring/fertility symbolism is "diluting" the true meaning of Easter, without realising that spring/fertility is the true meaning of Easter.