Easter, according to De Ratione Temporum by the Christian scholar known as “the venerable Bede” (672-735 C.E.), was named after Eostre, the Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility – in other words, the spiritual embodiment of Spring.
The Teutons lived in what now is central Europe – Germany, Austria and the like. The word for Easter in modern German is Ostern, which likely stems from Ost, meaning “East.” The sun rises in the east, and of course we in the Northern hemisphere, particularly places that have recently experienced long and bitter snows, are all celebrating the sun’s return as winter passes and the days grow longer and warmer.
This is the heart of the death and resurrection story later grafted onto the holy man Jesus – the return of life to soil, plants, birds, bugs, plants, animals, and us all. Young animals are born, their mothers’ milk flows, and from the bare branches of winter, sweet-smelling flowers and life-giving fruit now return. For one more year, we know now we will likely live.
Plus now we also get chocolate bunnies.
May your own season of rebirth go much more easily!
(Image Note: I don’t know who drew this great bunny cartoon. If you do, please tell me and I’ll be delighted to give credit.)