20 Mar 2016

EOSTRE, IN A NUT, EM, EGGSHELL.


Although very much in tune with the seasons, 'Ostara', traditionally a time of fertility, of the sewing of seeds, was not typically celebrated as a holiday by our Celtic ancestors.

Various Germanic tribes celebrating the Goddess, a, you guessed it, virgin, who it is said lay with the sun god only to give birth nine months later .... in December. 

The ancient Roman followers of Cybele at around the same time believing their Goddess had a consort, the product of a virgin birth, who died only to be resurrected during the time of the Vernal/Spring Equinox which incidentally for those of us in the Northern hemisphere falls today, March 20th. 

Hmm, sound familiar?

A contemporary Ostara if you will, Eostre was the Saxon equivalent. Legend having it that ...


On finding a wounded bird in late-Winter, Eostre attempted to save its life by changing it into a hare only for the bird to take on the appearance of a hare but with the ability to still lay eggs which, once decorated, where ever after left as gifts to the Goddess. 

Or, though revered by many modern-day Wiccans, was she? 

Apparently apart from one vague mention in St. Bede's The Reckoning Of Time in which it was explained ... 

Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated "Paschal month", and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance ....

there are no images, no carvings, no definitive historical evidence THOUGH it may well be that Eostre did indeed belong to some Germanic tribe or other, her story passed down in the oral tradition. OR could it be that Bede simply misinterpreted something and Eostremonth was not named for a godess but rather as some other Spring festival?

Either way, a symbol of new life to many cultures. 

Eggs decorated for the spring are known to pre-date  the Jewish Passover when, custom has it, a hard-boiled egg is dipped in salt water and offered as a sacrifice to the temple in Jerusalem or indeed the early Christians who it is believed may have consumed eggs as a way of marking the end of Lent. Greek Orthodox legend having it that, on the death of Christ on the cross, a bowl of eggs were seen to change in colour to red.

In Persia, coloured thousands of years ago as part of the Noruz/Nowrooz (literally meaning 'New Day) festivities, the matriarch of the family traditionally cooked and ate an egg for each of the children she gave birth to. 

Meanwhile 'Pysanksa' eggs (still eaten in the Ukraine today though like the 'Easter egg' they are now largely associated with the story of Christ's resurrection) stem from a pre-Christian custom in which eggs were decorated to celebrate the sun god Dazhboh OR, as is claimed here, are these also a version of a folk story re-written to star Eostre?



12 comments:

LL Cool Joe said...

Fascinating. I've never heard about the bowl of eggs changing to red after Christ's death on the cross.

Suko said...

Wonderful post, Tracy. Thank you for this post; you often teach me a thing or two. The idea of the red eggs is interesting. (I have seen red dye specifically for Easter eggs, and have been interested in coloring the eggs red instead of different colors.)

Happy Spring to you and your readers!

Literary Feline said...

I had not heard any of this before. How interesting! Happy Spring!

Kelly said...

I always enjoy the lessons on folklore you present to us. I never fail to learn something new!

Brian Joseph said...

I love these posts relating to mythology and familiar events and holidays. I never knew about most of folklore.

It is so interesting how many Christian holidays have pagan roots to them.

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I'm afraid that myths, legends and folklore, rate up there with religion, as things that I rarely ever think about, let alone read.

To that end, I have to confess that I only skimmed parts of this post, which looked particularly interesting ... I was fascinated by the concept of the bird being turned into a hare, but then once a hare, still had the ability to lay eggs ... that rather appealed to my love of the slightly quirky!

Sorry that I didn't take it more seriously, but thanks for sharing :)

Yvonne

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I love these posts. Always good to learn tidbits like this. :D

Gina R said...

Always love how you manage to share a lesson with something we take for granted. :)

Barbara Fisher said...

How fascinating Tracy, I always learn something new when I visit you. Happy Easter, Barbara xx

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Definitely interesting and unique...all of this was completely unknown to me

Karen Alderman said...

I always so informed after visiting your blog! lol

Karen @For What It's Worth

Sherry Ellis said...

I studied mythology extensively in college. I found it interesting how many similarities there are between mythology and Christianity.