Friday, April 3, 2015

Urban Myth of Anglo-centrism or Eostre My Ass

It comes around every year as certainly as FOX "news" pushing the "war on Christmas" nonsense, the internet babble about how the "Xians" stole Easter from those poor put upon pagans.  I'm reading it all over the place today so I'm posting this now.  Somehow the "reality community"  thinks that the English invented Easter.   The whole thing centers around the derivation of the English name "Easter" by the Anglo Saxon monk, The Venerable Bede in 725.  From The Reckoning of Time:

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.

Apparently that statement is the sole reason that this modern myth arose, no other one, apparently, making that claim.  You wonder why a bunch of "Xian" haters take the word of a Catholic monk for it.   I'm no expert in the minor goddesses of Germanic paganism but the entire issue of Germanic paganism as known in the early 8th century is made moot by the fact that by that time Christians around the Mediterranean had been fighting over the right time to observe the PASCAL TIME for, oh, about 535 years and likely longer.

 Ecclesiastical history preserves the memory of three distinct phases of the dispute regarding the proper time of observing Easter. It will add to clearness if we in the first place state what is certain regarding the date and the nature of these three categories.

First phase

The first was mainly concerned with the lawfulness of celebrating Easter on a weekday. We read in Eusebius (Church History V.23): "A question of no small importance arose at that time [i.e. the time of Pope Victor, about A.D. 190]. The dioceses of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should always be observed as the feast of the life-giving pasch [epi tes tou soteriou Pascha heortes], contending that the fast ought to end on that day, whatever day of the week it might happen to be. However it was not the custom of the churches in the rest of the world to end it at this point, as they observed the practice, which from Apostolic tradition has prevailed to the present time, of terminating the fast on no other day than on that of the Resurrection of our Saviour. Synods and assemblies of bishops were held on this account, and all with one consent through mutual correspondence drew up an ecclesiastical decree that the mystery of the Resurrection of the Lord should be celebrated on no other day but the Sunday and that we should observe the close of the paschal fast on that day only." These words of the Father of Church History, followed by some extracts which he makes from the controversial letters of the time, tell us almost all that we know concerning the paschal controversy in its first stage. A letter of St. Irenæus is among the extracts just referred to, and this shows that the diversity of practice regarding Easter had existed at least from the time of Pope Sixtus (c. 120). Further, Irenaeus states that St. Polycarp, who like the other Asiatics, kept Easter on the fourteenth day of the moon, whatever day of the week that might be, following therein the tradition which he claimed to have derived from St. John the Apostle, came to Rome c. 150 about this very question, but could not be persuaded by Pope Anicetus to relinquish his Quartodeciman observance. Nevertheless he was not debarred from communion with the Roman Church, and St. Irenæus, while condemning the Quartodeciman practice, nevertheless reproaches Pope Victor (c. 189-99) with having excommunicated the Asiatics too precipitately and with not having followed the moderation of his predecessors. The question thus debated was therefore primarily whether Easter was to be kept on a Sunday, or whether Christians should observe the Holy Day of the Jews, the fourteenth of Nisan, which might occur on any day of the week. Those who kept Easter with the Jews were called Quartodecimans or terountes (observants); but even in the time of Pope Victor this usage hardly extended beyond the churches of Asia Minor. After the pope's strong measures the Quartodecimans seem to have gradually dwindled away. Origen in the "Philosophumena" (VIII, xviii) seems to regard them as a mere handful of wrong-headed nonconformists.

The fact is that in the Greek language the far older name for the feast day is "Paskha" apparently from where the Latin "Pascha" comes from, all of which is taken from the Hebrew word for the Passover "Pesach",  all of which pre-date any interaction that Christians are likely to have had with Germanic rabbit worshipers by a considerable time.

Let me take a second to point out that anyone who knows anything about the accounts of the execution and Resurrection of Jesus, would know that it was entirely, intimately and from the beginning related to THE PASSOVER, WHICH HAD ALREADY BEEN SET FROM TIME IMMEMORIAL BY THE 1ST CENTURY.

14 This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses, for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a solemn assembly, and on the seventh day a solemn assembly; no work shall be done on those days; only what everyone must eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread, for on this very day I brought your companies out of the land of Egypt: you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a perpetual ordinance.
Exodus 12:14-17

The Christian holiday has NOTHING to do with German paganism, it would be more accurate to say that pagan practices polluted the Jewish-Christian holiday.

All of the romance languages I know of derive their name for Easter from the same cognates from the Hebrew.  And even a number of  Germanic tongues, such as Danish (Påske), Swedish (Påsk), and even Icelandic (Páskar) who would seem to have missed the Eostre bandwagon. You'd think that the isolated island that preserved the Sagas and, as my old History of English teacher claimed, a closer affinity with Anglo Saxon than modern English does, would have retained it if anyone would have, but it was likely never there to start with. *

If anyone had a legitimate beef to make over the holiday, it would be the Jews and Jesus and everyone named in the accounts of the event, except a few Romans, were Jews, including Jesus.

But what can you expect, the same people run their own ideological campaigns around Christmas, just like FOX does.

*  Update:  Other than German and English and a few modern descendants of German such as the language of the Pennsylvania Dutch, just about all of the names for Easter in most languages are, clearly, derived from the Hebrew cognate name for the the holiest day of the Christian year.  Some examples, Norwegian (Påske), Scots (Pace),  Welsh (Pasg), and,  Irish Gaelic, (Cáisc) I suspect through a p to hard c consonant shift, though I'm no Irish scholar, much to my shame.  Even the near cousins of English don't share in the "Eostre" stuff showing more affinity in their name for the day to the Hebrew, Flemmish (Poaschn),  Frisian (Peaske).


  1. Wait, Jews aren't pagans?

    The only reference to a Germanic goddess named Eostre is the Venerable Bede. Nobody (who knows what they're talking about) even thinks the English word came from that source; except the Venerable Bede.

    As for stealing the holiday, honestly, it's the first I've heard of it. Kinda dumb, anyway, since the gospels prove Jesus never existed, ya know.....

  2. I wish I had a dollar for every time I saw something like that online today. OK, ten dollars. I'd give it to someone who wouldn't pay me back. The reality community, don't you know.

  3. Good Friday. Obviously originally [Norse] god Freya day.

    (Or maybe fifties legend Joe Friday day.)