ESTER TRADITIONS AROUND THE WORLD

To conduct an etymological examination of "Easter" we must refer to the English term "Easter" which would bring us back to ancient cults related to the coming of spring and in particular to an ancient pagan goddess, the goddess Eostre. The name seems to come from "Aus" or "Aes" and that is East, so it is a divinity linked to the rising sun and its heat, after all the theme of fires and the return of the star will be a recurring theme in the continuation of Easter traditions. Grimm, a well-known scholar of Nordic mythology in his "Teutonic Mythology" describes Heroes as a pagan divinity bearer of fertility and connects it to the light of the East and in particular to the Spring equinox that was called by the Celtic peoples "Eostur-Monath" and later "Ostara".

EASTER EGGS AND THE MYSTICAL RABBIT

 

An interesting Easter tradition is the exchange of chocolate eggs, in Germany for example there is the custom that children, on Easter Sunday morning, called Ostern, go looking in the gardens of the houses of eggs hidden by the "Easter Rabbit", in England they can roll on the road colored boiled eggs until the shell is completely broken. This tradition is strongly linked to the cult of the goddess described above. The symbol of the goddess is the hare or rabbit, which in reality represents the same divinity that becomes immanent and conceives itself as a forest divinity. The animal, then, is not accidental, but chosen not only for its famous reproductive qualities but also because, according to the Germans, the black areas of the moon would represent the hare, thus attesting to the sacredness of the animal. Even the egg is not chosen by chance but has always been a symbol of rebirth. For the primitive hunter and collector, Spring brought birds to lay their eggs and therefore to have a new livelihood after the austerity of winter. The egg becomes so powerful talisman of fertility and life as witnessed by the customs of the sacred eggs Russian or Ukrainian where eating this food would celebrate the rebirth of the sun and the return of the seasons of abundance. The eating of eggs, thus, becomes a collective ritual of participation in the new life and therefore in the resurrection.

THE REMINISCENCE OF THE ARBOREAL SPIRIT

An interesting tradition is that of the so-called Adonis Gardens: in particular in the eastern area, under the names of Tammuz and Adonis, the decadence and annual rebirth of life were venerated and even if the sources around these gods are fragmentary and obscure, we deduce that they died every year and then resurrected. A kind of garden was dedicated to them, which was nothing more than a symbol based on the principle of Imitative Magic, that is, that similar produces similarity: making these flowering gardens was a way to encourage the growth of crops. The symbolism of the lamb, or rather of the "kid", is also closely linked to the arboreal cult in the same meaning as the hare for the goddess Eostre. The goat, in fact, wandering in the woods, gnaws at the bark of the trees, causing them considerable damage, so only the god of vegetation feeds on the plant it personified, and therefore the same animal can only be sacred. As with eggs, the wild eating the meat of the animal believes he buys and absorbs a part of the gods. Therefore, the feeding of animals sacred to God is a solemn sacrament like the celebration of Jesus, represented by a Lamb that still today, in many parts of Italy is consumed.

THE FIRE CELEBRATION

Closely connected with the rituals of vegetation and rebirth is the Easter tradition of lighting bonfires. The so-called fires of joy from which the tradition of the Easter candle would then derive. In Germany, for example, farmers collect all the dry branches they find in their countryside and then burn them at a huge stake and spread ashes in the fields to produce a harvest, while brightly braces are brought into the houses to protect them from evil spirits. We also find such rituals in many other parts of Europe as well as in Italy. Tradition is well combined with the concept of Imitative Magic very dear to the primitive, in fact, the festival linked to the spring equinox is closely linked to the rebirth of the Sun after his death, darkness and light are equivalent to then take over the latter. The rituals were thus a way of imitating the path of the star or even of bringing part of its heat to earth in fact the custom of making fire wheels rock down a hill or running in the fields with torches lit makes it just pass through an imitation of the solar path in the sky: a mystical interweaving of cultures and beliefs that merge into ancient rituals and symbols that are lost in the mists of time.

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