Sunday, April 04, 2010

Paganism and Easter

Easter is my favorite pagan holy day. It's true that Christians have tried to steal it but the glories of this Spring fertility festival keep shining through.

The Name Is a Fertility Goddess
All of the Germanic languages, including English, use some variation of the word Easter to label this so-called Jesus resurrection holiday. Easter derives from Eostre, the Saxon goddess of fertility. It is curious that her name is strikingly similar to Ishtar and Astarte, the Babylonian and Phoenician fertility goddesses. The Romance languages all use some variation of Pascha, from the Greek word for the Hebrew Passover.

The Images Are of Fertility
Colored eggs and bunnies are hardly Christian symbols. Coloring eggs was a part of the Persian fertility celebrations that migrated to the eastern Mediterranean. Randy rabbits copulating have been symbols of Spring throughout Europe since civilization began. The two merged into an egg-laying bunny who became the avatar of the resurrected Christ.

Why Sunday?
According to Bible tradition, Christ was crucified on Good Friday and resurrected "three days and three nights" (Matthew 12:38-40) later. Oops. The resurrection happened on a Monday. So, why do Christians celebrate Easter Sunday?

Sunday worship was part of Roman paganism, Sol Invictus, during the first couple of centuries AD. This Sun worship cult rose when Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus elevated his Syrian Sun God to the top of the Roman pantheon. In 321 AD, Emperor Constantine ordered Christians to adopt the "venerable day of the sun" (Sunday) as its holy day of the week as well. This merging of pagan and Christian religions served Constantine politically.

Dedicated readers may recognize parts of this. I plagiarized myself.

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