Monday 6 April 2009

Do you know why Easter is called "Easter"?

Dear Mr Postman .. another letter how lovely - thank you .. my mother will enjoy these stories ..

Do you know why Easter is called 'Easter', why the date is flexible and where the various traditions came from? There are so many symbols and customs that have become established over the years as the different civilisations in the northern hemisphere have gained a hold.

The first for my mother must be the annual Christian festival of Easter in commemoration of the resurrection of Christ, after yesterday's Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week. The lay reader from the Chaplaincy came yesterday to spend a little time, say a couple of prayers and give the Blessing with my mother, which she was grateful for.

There is always so much to learn and appreciate in how we, as the present civilisation, utilise the customs and traditions of times past and how our own present day identities will be etched into these centuries for future historians to interpret. We have so much information available to us .. it is quite extraordinary that I, as just a normal daughter, can find (as I wish to - granted!) snippets of information going back eons ... and highlight to you the ones that amuse my mother and I - and appeal, I hope, to lots of you as you read these positive letters and this blog.

The First Council of Nicea convened by Roman Emporer Constantine 1 in 325 AD was historically significant as the first effort to attain consensus in the Church, when it was laid down that Easter Sunday cannot be earlier than March 22nd or later than April 25th: ie the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon following the vernal (Spring) equinox.

The English name 'Easter' was adopted by the Venerable Bede (672 - 735 AD) from a heathen festival held in honour of the Teutonic goddess of dawn, called Eostre, which occurred at much the same time as the Spring Equinox and had been linked with the Old English Christian Paschal festival.

Pasch, Paschal, I've always associated as a Jewish name or description, however I've been surprised to learn that it is established in a large number of languages .. as above an archaic name for Easter or Passover; Pascha is also found in Anglo-Saxon, Latin, Greek, in Hebrew from pesach (to pass over), in Old French (pasque) and modern French (paque); The PassOver; the feast of Easter.

Then we get Pasch Eggs, Paschal Lamb .. and Hot X Buns, Maundy money .. so much, so many more snippets to follow up on ..

Thank you Mr Postman for reminding us of our history .. the letter will generate many more ideas from readers as they celebrate their Easters ..

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters


Unknown said...

Dear Hilary,

Thank you for your informative post. I did not know any of your explanation in here, though I've known Easter to be a celebration of Jesus Christ Resurrection. Further question is why rabbits and eggs? Are these symbol of the Resurrection?

Shaw Funami
Fill the Missing Link

Peter Baca said...


What a fabulous post on the history of Easter! It is such a tradition in so many cultures.

Thank you for your wonderful informative post!

Best Regards

Pete Baca
The Car Enthusiast Online

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shaw .. thanks for your thoughts .. I always find it interesting how our different cultures across the world seem to have originated and diverged or melded together - there's so much to this world.

Eggs .. I'll definitely get to .. & rabbits I'll try and bring in ..

Thanks for commenting and your interest

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pete .. thanks for visiting and expressing your interest in the post.

I'm glad to hear you enjoy the blog ..

Thanks - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters