Holy smokes! You can’t be serious! First we have Christians claiming that people are making war on Christmas, stealing or destroying a Christian holiday. But of course, Christmas was originally a Pagan holiday stolen by Christians from Paganism.
Now it’s Easter’s turn. Randy Sharp, special projects director for the American Family Association (AFA) says,
“We’ve been doing this with Christmas for years and we’re winning that battle, and now it seems like the liberals are taking the battle to Easter and trying to take away any vestige of Christ or the meaning of Easter from all celebrations in the public forum.”
Munson Township, Ohio, announced it was having a “Spring Egg Hunt” for kids. The audacity! You can’t have a public event without Jesus! How dare you!
I mean, nothing says Jesus like painted eggs. What’s your problem? Haven’t you read the New Testament? You remember when Jesus hid the painted eggs and made the disciples find them…um…er…never mind.
The AFA, expert haters and hypocrites one and all, has decried the event, calling it an effort to “strip ‘Easter’ from community events.”
Of course, like Christmas, Easter is a Pagan holiday. It’s even named after a Pagan goddess: Eostre, a West German goddess who originally applied her name to the entire month of April (Eostur-monath). Eostre, also known as Ostara, is a fertility goddess, no less. And we all known how much groups like the AFA hate talk of fertility.
It brings to mind people frolicking and doing things only megachurch pastors and conservative politicians should do, and only then with people other than their wives.
So here we have another irony, fundamentalist Christians whining that a holiday they stole is now being stolen from them when in actuality, by taking Jesus out of the picture, the townsfolk are actually getting closer to the holiday’s true roots.
The AFA says,
“While `egg hunts’ aren’t exactly biblical, they do provide opportunities for Christians to share the good news of Jesus’ birth with members of the community by celebrating it in public.”
As I said above, it also gives them a chance to get back to the roots of the holiday and celebrate spring and fertility.
Or to hunt for Easter eggs – without Jesus. After all, Eostre is being left home too, and Eostre has a much firmer claim on the holiday.
Eostre’s fate is the result of the application the old Christian tactic of normative inversion; the transference of cultic acts (ritual) from one religion to another. For example, in the year 500 give or take, the bishop of Javols, incensed that Pagans continued to show loyalty to their gods by offering sacrifices at a lake, built a church full of relics of St. Hilary in order for the Saint to be their “intercessor for the mercy of the lord”, forcing the Pagans to bring their valuables to the church rather than deposit them in the lake. A century later, Pope Gregory formalized the practice in his famous letter to the English mission, offering as an example turning a sacrifice to the gods into a feast held in honor of the Christian god. Where Eostre was concerned, Christianity simply replaced the Pagan celebration (and its goddess) with a Christian holiday and Jesus.
Meanwhile, the AFA has declared war on the unfortunate township and on all those who like eggs without religion. They have issued an “Action Alert” in order to bully the town into submitting to the lord. And it look as though the town will submit to the unholy wrath of outraged and unbridled hypocrisy.
As Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) reports, it’s not all bad. The AFA has managed to draw renewed attention to an old Pagan holiday and goddess, long forgotten by most. And it’s managed to draw attention to the absurdity of associating highly fertile bunny rabbits and procreation with Jesus, not to mention the aforementioned painted eggs.
As Rob Boston, writing for AU concludes, “Somehow, I don’t think this is what the group had in mind. But perhaps, from her perch in the pantheon surrounded by her fellow gods and goddesses, Eoestre smiles with approval.”
I couldn’t agree more. Let’s face it: the only religion with a right to complain here about the theft of a holiday (and of a deity) is Paganism. A thief has no right to complain when something they have stolen is stolen by somebody else. So let’s give Eostre her due, even if in passing. It’s her time of year, after all: spring and renewed life after the dark of winter. Procreation – and über-fertile little bunny rabbits – are in the air, as they should be.
Let the procreation begin!
Image: “Ostara” (1901) by Johannes Gehrts. The goddess Ēostre/*Ostara flies through the heavens surrounded by Roman-inspired putti, beams of light, and animals. Germanic peoples look up at the goddess from the realm below.
Created in 1884, judging by the signature. Published in 1901. Public Domain.