Easter Was Once A Feast For The Germanic Goddess Ostara
We are now in the time of Easter, the holiest of Christian celebrations. But what many don’t know is that the Holyday, and, especially, the practices surrounding it are not Christian by nature. This, of course, can be said about many other celebrations, and not just Easter. Like with every religion, when it is spread around to other peoples, some traditions and rituals are incorporated into the new one so as to make the transition easier.
In this case, we have the Germanic goddess of spring and dawn, Ostara or Ēostre, as she is sometimes known. There is very little we know about her and she only makes a single appearance, being mentioned by Bede, a British historian from the early 8th century. In his works, he mentions that the Anglo-Saxons named a month in her honour, Eostur, during which many feasts were held.
After Christianity came to the land, the month’s name changed to April and it became the time of celebration of Christ’s resurrection, known as Easter. There are several theories that want to link Ostara with several of the more unusual Easter traditions and celebrations, such as the coloured eggs and hares.
There is a story passed around modern-day pagan practitioners. It says that once, a little girl found a bird in the snow that was freezing to death. And in order to save her life, the girl turned to Ostara for help. The goddess then presented herself in a red robe of sunlight that melted the snow and heralding in the spring. But because there was little to do about the bird’s health, the goddess turned it into a hare that brought rainbow-coloured eggs.
But because Ostara is only mentioned by Bede, some believe that she is only his creation and that the goddess was never worshipped by anyone. Others, on the other hand, connect her with Eastrgena, another goddess who was worshipped by Anglo-Saxons in and around the counties of Kent in England. Some even go as far as making a connection with Freya, the Norse goddess.