Ēostre

Ēostre or Ostara (Old English: Ēastre [æːɑstrə] or [eːɑstrə], Northumbrian dialect Ēastro,[1] Mercian dialect and West Saxon dialect (Old English) Ēostre;[2] Old High German: *Ôstara ) is a Germanic goddess who, by way of the Germanic month bearing her name (Northumbrian: Ēosturmōnaþ; West Saxon: Ēastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth), is the namesake of the festival of Easter in some languages. Ēostre is attested solely by Bede in his 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time, where Bede states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Ēostre's honour, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.

By way of linguistic reconstruction, the matter of a goddess called *Austrō in the Proto-Germanic language has been examined in detail since the foundation of Germanic philology in the 19th century by scholar Jacob Grimm and others. As the Germanic languages descend from Proto-Indo-European (PIE), historical linguists have traced the name to a Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn *H₂ewsṓs (→ *Ausṓs), from which descends the Common Germanic divinity from whom Ēostre and Ostara are held to descend. Additionally, scholars have linked the goddess's name to a variety of Germanic personal names, a series of location names (toponyms) in England, and, discovered in 1958, over 150 inscriptions from the 2nd century CE referring to the matronae Austriahenae.

Theories connecting Ēostre with records of Germanic Easter customs, including hares and eggs, have been proposed. Particularly prior to the discovery of the matronae Austriahenae and further developments in Indo-European studies, debate has occurred among some scholars about whether or not the goddess was an invention of Bede. Ēostre and Ostara are sometimes referenced in modern popular culture and are venerated in some forms of Germanic neopaganism.

Ostara by Johannes Gehrts
Ostara (1884) by Johannes Gehrts. The goddess flies through the heavens surrounded by Roman-inspired putti, beams of light, and animals. Germanic people look up at the goddess from the realm below.

Etymology

Old English Ēostre continues into modern English as Easter and derives from Proto-Germanic **Austrǭ, itself a descendant of the Proto-Indo-European root *h₂ews-, meaning 'to shine' (modern English east also derives from this root).[3]

The goddess name Ēostre is therefore linguistically cognate with numerous other dawn goddesses attested among Indo-European language-speaking peoples. These cognates lead to the reconstruction of a Proto-Indo-European dawn goddess; the Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture details that "a Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn is supported both by the evidence of cognate names and the similarity of mythic representation of the dawn goddess among various Indo-European groups” and that “all of this evidence permits us to posit a Proto-Indo-European *haéusōs 'goddess of dawn' who was characterized as a "reluctant" bringer of light for which she is punished. In three of the Indo-European stocks, Baltic, Greek and Indo-Iranian, the existence of a Proto-Indo-European 'goddess of the dawn' is given additional linguistic support in that she is designated the 'daughter of heaven'."[4]

De temporum ratione

In chapter 15 (De mensibus Anglorum, "The English months") of his 8th-century work De temporum ratione ("The Reckoning of Time"), Bede describes the indigenous month names of the English people. After describing the worship of the goddess Rheda during the Anglo-Saxon month of Hrēþ-mōnaþ, Bede writes about Ēosturmōnaþ, the month of the goddess Ēostre:

Eostur-monath, qui nunc Paschalis mensis interpretatur, quondam a Dea illorum quæ Eostre vocabatur, et cui in illo festa celebrabant nomen habuit: a cujus nomine nunc Paschale tempus cognominant, consueto antiquæ observationis vocabulo gaudia novæ solemnitatis vocantes.[5]

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.[6]

Jacob Grimm, *Ostara, and Easter customs

In his 1835 Deutsche Mythologie, Jacob Grimm cites comparative evidence to reconstruct a potential continental Germanic goddess whose name would have been preserved in the Old High German name of Easter, *Ostara. Addressing skepticism towards goddesses mentioned by Bede, Grimm comments that "there is nothing improbable in them, nay the first of them is justified by clear traces in the vocabularies of Germanic tribes."[7] Specifically regarding Ēostre, Grimm continues that:

We Germans to this day call April ostermonat, and ôstarmânoth is found as early as Eginhart (temp. Car. Mag.). The great Christian festival, which usually falls in April or the end of March, bears in the oldest of OHG remains the name ôstarâ ... it is mostly found in the plural, because two days ... were kept at Easter. This Ostarâ, like the [Anglo-Saxon] Eástre, must in heathen religion have denoted a higher being, whose worship was so firmly rooted, that the Christian teachers tolerated the name, and applied it to one of their own grandest anniversaries.[8]

Grimm notes that "all of the nations bordering on us have retained the Biblical pascha; even Ulphilas writes 𐍀𐌰𐍃𐌺𐌰, not 𐌰𐌿𐍃𐍄𐍂𐍉 (paska not áustrô), though he must have known the word". Grimm details that the Old High German adverb ôstar "expresses movement towards the rising sun", as did the Old Norse term austr, and potentially also Anglo-Saxon ēastor and Gothic 𐌰𐌿𐍃𐍄𐍂 (áustr). Grimm compares these terms to the identical Latin term auster. Grimm says that the cult of the goddess may have worshiped an Old Norse form, Austra, or that her cult may have already been extinct by the time of Christianization.[9]

Grimm notes that the Old Norse Prose Edda book Gylfaginning attests to a male being called Austri, whom Grimm describes as a "spirit of light." Grimm comments that a female version would have been *Austra, yet that the High German and Saxon peoples seem to have only formed Ostarâ and Eástre, feminine, and not Ostaro and Eástra, masculine. Grimm additionally speculates on the nature of the goddess and surviving folk customs that may have been associated with her in Germany:

Ostara, Eástre seems therefore to have been the divinity of the radiant dawn, of upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing, whose meaning could be easily adapted by the resurrection-day of the Christian's God. Bonfires were lighted at Easter and according to popular belief of long standing, the moment the sun rises on Easter Sunday morning, he gives three joyful leaps, he dances for joy ... Water drawn on the Easter morning is, like that at Christmas, holy and healing ... here also heathen notions seems to have grafted themselves on great Christian festivals. Maidens clothed in white, who at Easter, at the season of returning spring, show themselves in clefts of the rock and on mountains, are suggestive of the ancient goddess.[10]

In the second volume of Deutsche Mythologie, Grimm picks up the subject of Ostara again, connecting the goddess to various German Easter festivities, including Easter eggs:

But if we admit, goddesses, then, in addition to Nerthus, Ostara has the strongest claim to consideration. To what we said on p. 290 I can add some significant facts. The heathen Easter had much in common with May-feast and the reception of spring, particularly in the matter of bonfires. Then, through long ages there seem to have lingered among the people Easter-games so-called, which the church itself had to tolerate : I allude especially to the custom of Easter eggs, and to the Easter tale which preachers told from the pulpit for the people's amusement, connecting it with Christian reminiscences.[11]

Grimm comments on further Easter time customs, including unique sword dances and particular baked goods ("pastry of heathenish form"). In addition, Grimm weights a potential connection to the Slavic spring goddess Vesna and the Lithuanian Vasara.[11]

Locations, personal names, and the matronae Austriahenae

A cluster of place names in England contain and a variety of English and continental Germanic names include the element *ēoster, an early Old English word reconstructed by linguists and potentially an earlier form of the goddess name Ēostre. The Council of Austerfield called by King Aldfrith of Northumbria shortly before 704 convened at a place described in contemporary records both as in campo qui Eostrefeld dicitur and in campo qui dicitur Oustraefelda, which have led to the site's being identified with Austerfield near Bawtry in the West Riding of Yorkshire.[12] Such locations also include Eastry (Eastrgena, 788 CE) in Kent, Eastrea (Estrey, 966 CE) in Cambridgeshire, and Eastrington (Eastringatun, 959 CE) in the East Riding of Yorkshire.[13]

The element *ēoster also appears in the Old English name Easterwine, a name borne by Bede's monastery abbot in Wearmouth–Jarrow and which appears an additional three times in the Durham Liber Vitae. The name Aestorhild also appears in the Liber Vitae, and is likely the ancestor of the Middle English name Estrild. Various continental Germanic names include the element, including Austrechild, Austrighysel, Austrovald, and Ostrulf.[14]

In 1958, over 150 Romano-Germanic votive inscriptions to the matronae Austriahenae were discovered near Morken-Harff, Germany. Most of these inscriptions are in an incomplete state, yet many are at least reasonably legible. Some of these inscriptions refer to the Austriates, evidently the name of a social group.[15]

Theories and interpretations

Dea ex Machina and the matronae Austriahenae

Some debate has occurred over whether or not the goddess was an invention of Bede's, particularly in the 19th century before more widespread reconstructions of the Proto-Indo-European dawn goddess. Writing in the late 19th century, Charles J. Billson notes that scholars before his writing were divided about the existence of Bede's account of Ēostre, stating that "among authorities who have no doubt as to her existence are W. Grimm, Wackernagel, Sinrock [sic], and Wolf. On the other hand, Weinhold rejects the idea on philological grounds, and so do Heinrich Leo and Hermann Oesre. Kuhn says, 'The Anglo-Saxon Eostre looks like an invention of Bede;' and Mannhardt also dismisses her as an etymological dea ex machina." Billson says that "the whole question turns ... upon Bede's credibility", and that "one is inclined to agree with Grimm, that it would be uncritical to saddle this eminent Father of the Church, who keeps Heathendom at arms' length and tells us less of than he knows, with the invention of this goddess." Billson points out that the Christianization of England started at the end of the 6th century, and, by the 7th, was completed. Billson argues that, as Bede was born in 672, Bede must have had opportunities to learn the names of the native goddesses of the Anglo-Saxons, "who were hardly extinct in his lifetime."[16]

Writing in the late 20th century, Rudolf Simek says that, despite expressions of doubts, Bede's account of Ēostre should not be disregarded. Simek opines that a "Spring-like fertility goddess" must be assumed rather than a "goddess of sunrise" regardless of the name, reasoning that "otherwise the Germanic goddesses (and matrons) are mostly connected with prosperity and growth". Simek points to a comparison with the goddess Rheda, also attested by Bede.[17]

Scholar Philip A. Shaw (2011) writes that the subject has seen "a lengthy history of arguments for and against Bede's goddess Ēostre, with some scholars taking fairly extreme positions on either side" and that some theories against the goddess have gained popular cultural prominence. Shaw, however, notes that "much of this debate, however, was conducted in ignorance of a key piece of evidence, as it was not discovered until 1958. This evidence is furnished by over 150 Romano-Germanic votive inscriptions to deities named the matronae Austriahenae, found near Morken-Harff and datable to around 150–250 AD". Most of these inscriptions are in an incomplete state, yet most are in a complete enough for reasonable clarity of the inscriptions. As early as 1966 scholars have linked these names etymologically with Ēostre and an element found in Germanic personal names.[18] Shaw argues against a functional interpretation of the available evidence and concludes that "the etymological connections of her name suggests that her worshippers saw her geographical and social relationship with them as more central than any functions she may have had".[19]

Hares and Freyja

Easter Bunny Postcard 1907
An Easter postcard from 1907 depicting a rabbit

In Northern Europe, Easter imagery often involves hares and rabbits. Citing folk Easter customs in Leicestershire, England where "the profits of the land called Harecrop Leys were applied to providing a meal which was thrown on the ground at the 'Hare-pie Bank'", late 19th-century scholar Charles Isaac Elton theorizes a connection between these customs and the worship of Ēostre.[20] In his late 19th-century study of the hare in folk custom and mythology, Charles J. Billson cites numerous incidents of folk custom involving the hare around the period of Easter in Northern Europe. Billson says that "whether there was a goddess named Ēostre, or not, and whatever connection the hare may have had with the ritual of Saxon or British worship, there are good grounds for believing that the sacredness of this animal reaches back into an age still more remote, where it is probably a very important part of the great Spring Festival of the prehistoric inhabitants of this island."[16]

Some scholars have linked customs and imagery involving hares to Ēostre and the Norse goddess Freyja. Writing in 1972, John Andrew Boyle cites commentary contained within an etymology dictionary by A. Ernout and A. Meillet, where the authors write that "Little else ... is known about [Ēostre], but it has been suggested that her lights, as goddess of the dawn, were carried by hares. And she certainly represented spring fecundity, and love and carnal pleasure that leads to fecundity." Boyle responds that nothing is known about Ēostre outside of Bede's single passage, that the authors had seemingly accepted the identification of Ēostre with the Norse goddess Freyja, yet that the hare is not associated with Freyja either. Boyle writes that "her carriage, we are told by Snorri, was drawn by a pair of cats — animals, it is true, which like hares were the familiars of witches, with whom Freyja seems to have much in common." However, Boyle adds that "on the other hand, when the authors speak of the hare as the 'companion of Aphrodite and of satyrs and cupids' and point out that 'in the Middle Ages it appears beside the figure of Luxuria', they are on much surer ground and can adduce the evidence of their illustrations."[21]

In popular culture and modern veneration

Jacob Grimm's reconstructed *Ostara has had some influence in popular culture since. The name has been adapted as an asteroid (343 Ostara, 1892 by Max Wolf),[22] and a date on the Wiccan Wheel of the Year (Ostara, 21 March).[23] In music, the name Ostara has been adopted as a name by the musical group Ostara,[24] and as the names of albums by :zoviet*france: (Eostre, 1984) and The Wishing Tree (Ostara, 2009).

In some forms of Germanic neopaganism, Ēostre (or Ostara) is venerated. Regarding this veneration, Carole M. Cusack comments that, among adherents, Ēostre is "associated with the coming of spring and the dawn, and her festival is celebrated at the spring equinox. Because she brings renewal, rebirth from the death of winter, some Heathens associate Ēostre with Iðunn, keeper of the apples of youth in Scandinavian mythology".[25]

Politically, the name of Ostara was in the early 20th century invoked as the name of a German nationalist magazine, book series and publishing house established in 1905 at Mödling, Austria.[26]

Ostara is portrayed by Kristin Chenoweth in the TV series American Gods based on the novel of the same name. In the series, Ostara has survived into the modern age by forming an alliance with the Goddess of Media (Gillian Anderson) and capitalising on the Christian holiday. Odin (Ian McShane) forces her to accept that those who celebrate Easter are worshipping Jesus and not her, causing her to join his rebellion against the New Gods.[27]

In 1853, Scottish protestant minister Alexander Hislop published The Two Babylons, an anti-Catholic tract. In the tract, Hislop connects modern English Easter with the East Semitic theonym Ishtar by way of folk etymology. For example, from The Two Babylons, third edition:

What means the term Easter itself? It is not a Christian name. It bears its Chaldean origin on its very forehead. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven, whose name, as pronounced by the people of Ninevah, was evidently identical with that now in common use in this country. This name as found by Layard on the Assyrian monuments, is Ishtar.[28]

Because Hislop's claims have no linguistics foundation, his claims were rejected, but the Two Babylons would go on to have some influence in popular culture.[29] In the 2000s, a popular Internet meme similarly claimed an incorrect linguistic connection between English Easter and Ishtar.[30]

See also

  • Mōdraniht, the Old English "Mother's night," also attested by Bede
  • Hengist and Horsa, euhemerised Old English deities also possibly extending from Proto-Indo-European religion
  • Tīw, the Old English extension of the Proto-Indo-European sky deity
  • Old High German lullaby, a lullaby in Old High German that mentions Ostara, generally held to be a literary forgery
  • Aurvandil, a Germanic being associated with stars, the first element of whose name is cognate to Ēostre
  • Dellingr, a potential personification of the dawn in Norse mythology

Notes

  1. ^ Sievers 1901 p. 98
  2. ^ Wright, 85, §208
  3. ^ Watkins 2006 [2000]: 2021.
  4. ^ Mallory & Adams (1997:148–149).
  5. ^ Giles (1843:179).
  6. ^ Wallis (1999:54).
  7. ^ Grimm (1882:289).
  8. ^ Grimm (1882:290).
  9. ^ Grimm (1882:290—291).
  10. ^ Grimm (1882:291).
  11. ^ a b Grimm (1883:780–781).
  12. ^ Cubitt, Catherine (1995). Anglo-Saxon Church Councils c.650–c.850. London: Leicester University Press, pp 302f. ISBN 0-7185-1436-X
  13. ^ Shaw (2011:59—60).
  14. ^ Shaw (2011:60).
  15. ^ Shaw (2011:52 and 63).
  16. ^ a b Billson (1892:448).
  17. ^ Simek (2007:74).
  18. ^ Shaw (2011:52).
  19. ^ Shaw (2011:70—71).
  20. ^ Elton, Charles Isaac (1882). Origins of English History. p. 391.
  21. ^ Boyle (1972:323—324).
  22. ^ Schmadel (2003:44)
  23. ^ Hubbard (2007:175).
  24. ^ Diesel, Gerten (2007:136).
  25. ^ Cusack (2008:354–355).
  26. ^ Simek (2007:255).
  27. ^ Griffiths, Eleanor Blye (19 June 2017). "American Gods mythology guide: Meet Germanic spring goddess Ostara". Radio Times. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  28. ^ Hislop (1903:103).
  29. ^ See, for example, contemporary discussion in anonymous (1859:338-340).
  30. ^ D'Costa, Krystal. "Beyond Ishtar: The Tradition of Eggs at Easter". Scientific American. Archived from the original on 28 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.

References

  • Wright, Joseph and Wright, Elisabeth Mary. (1914) Old English Grammar Second Edition. Humphrey Milford Oxford University Press
Austro

Austro may refer to:

Austro-, a prefix denoting Austria

Ēostre or *Austrō, a Proto-Germanic goddess widely associated with spring and dawn

As part of scientific neologisms, 'austro-' means “South”

Dawn goddess

A dawn goddess is a deity in a polytheistic religious tradition who is in some sense associated with the dawn.

Occidental examples of dawn goddesses include the reconstructed Indo-European dawn goddess, see Hausos and her reflections in historical daughter traditions:

Greek Eos

Egyptian Tefnut (in part of her being goddess of the morning dew)

Etruscan Thesan, (possibly also Albina)

Germanic Ēostre

Hindu Ushas

Roman Aurora (and later Mater Matuta)

Slavic Zorya

Irish Brigid

Lithuanian Aušra or Aušrinė

Latvian AustraIn Japan, the non-Indo-European dawn goddess Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto (Uzume) is a Shinto spirit with a temperament very similar to Ushas and Eos.

In Sioux mythology, Anpao, the spirit of the dawn, has two faces.

Dellingr

In Norse mythology, Dellingr (Old Norse possibly "the dayspring" or "shining one") is a god. Dellingr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Dellingr is described as the father of Dagr, the personified day. The Prose Edda adds that, depending on manuscript variation, he is either the third husband of Nótt, the personified night, or the husband of Jörð, the personified earth. Dellingr is also attested in the legendary saga Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks. Scholars have proposed that Dellingr is the personified dawn, and his name may appear both in an English surname and place name.

Dionysius Exiguus' Easter table

Dionysius Exiguus's Easter table was constructed in the year 525 by Dionysius Exiguus for the years 532–626. He obtained it from an Easter table attributed to Patriarch Cyril of Alexandria for the years 437–531. The latter was constructed around the year 440 by means of extrapolation from an Alexandrian Easter table constructed around the year 390 by Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria. The great historical importance of Dionysius' Easter table is twofold:

From this Easter table Bede's Easter cycle would ultimately be developed by means of which all future Julian calendar dates of Easter Sunday were determined (as in column G of Dionysius' table);

With his Easter table Dionysius introduced in passing the Christian era (see column A of Dionysius' table) which would be developed into a full system for dating historical events by Bede two centuries later.

East

East is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass. It is the opposite direction from west.

Easter

Easter, also called Pascha (Greek, Latin) or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent (or Great Lent), a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.

Most Christians refer to the week before Easter as "Holy Week"—it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Maundy and Last Supper, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. In Western Christianity, Eastertide, or the Easter Season, begins on Easter Sunday and lasts seven weeks, ending with the coming of the fiftieth day, Pentecost Sunday. In Eastern Christianity, the season of Pascha begins on Pascha and ends with the coming of the fortieth day, the Feast of the Ascension.

Easter and the holidays that are related to it are moveable feasts which do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars which follow only the cycle of the sun; rather, its date is determined on a lunisolar calendar similar to the Hebrew calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established two rules, independence of the Jewish calendar and worldwide uniformity, which were the only rules for Easter explicitly laid down by the council. No details for the computation were specified; these were worked out in practice, a process that took centuries and generated a number of controversies. It has come to be the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or soonest after 21 March, but calculations vary.

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In most European languages the feast called Easter in English is termed by the words for passover in those languages and in the older English versions of the Bible the term Easter was the term used to translate passover. Easter customs vary across the Christian world, and include sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church, and decorating Easter eggs (symbols of the empty tomb). The Easter lily, a symbol of the resurrection, traditionally decorates the chancel area of churches on this day and for the rest of Eastertide. Additional customs that have become associated with Easter and are observed by both Christians and some non-Christians include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades. There are also various traditional Easter foods that vary regionally.

Easter (disambiguation)

Easter is a Christian and cultural spring festival.

Easter may also refer to:

Easter customs, cultural traditions and practices that take place during the above festival

Eastertide, a fifty-day season in some Christian traditions

Ēostre, the pagan equinox (hence, "East") festival from which the Christian festival takes its name in English and in other Germanic languages

Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny (also called the Easter Rabbit or Easter Hare) is a folkloric figure and symbol of Easter, depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. Originating among German Lutherans, the "Easter Hare" originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behavior at the start of the season of Eastertide. The Easter Bunny is sometimes depicted with clothes. In legend, the creature carries colored eggs in his basket, candy, and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such shows similarities to Santa Claus or the Christkind, as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holidays. The custom was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Franckenau's De ovis paschalibus ('About Easter Eggs') in 1682, referring to a German tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter eggs for the children.

Easter basket

An Easter basket is a special basket used in Easter celebrations. Easter baskets are typically filled with Easter eggs, food, toys, or other gifts depending on one's culture.

Egg decorating

Egg decorating is the art or craft of decorating eggs. It is quite a popular art/craft form because of the attractive, smooth, oval shape of the egg. Any bird egg can be facilitated in this process, but most often the larger and stronger the eggshell is, the more favoured it will be by decorators.

Egg rolling

Egg rolling, or an Easter egg roll is a traditional game played with eggs at Easter. Different nations have different versions of the game, usually played with hard-boiled, decorated eggs.

European hare

The European hare (Lepus europaeus), also known as the brown hare, is a species of hare native to Europe and parts of Asia. It is among the largest hare species and is adapted to temperate, open country. Hares are herbivorous and feed mainly on grasses and herbs, supplementing these with twigs, buds, bark and field crops, particularly in winter. Their natural predators include large birds of prey, canids and felids. They rely on high-speed endurance running to escape predation, having long, powerful limbs and large nostrils.

Generally nocturnal and shy in nature, hares change their behaviour in the spring, when they can be seen in broad daylight chasing one another around in fields. During this spring frenzy, they sometimes strike one another with their paws ("boxing"). This is usually not competition between males, but a female hitting a male, either to show she is not yet ready to mate or as a test of his determination. The female nests in a depression on the surface of the ground rather than in a burrow, and the young are active as soon as they are born. Litters may consist of three or four young and a female can bear three litters a year, with hares living for up to twelve years. The breeding season lasts from January to August.

The European hare is listed as being of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature because it has a wide range and is moderately abundant. However, populations have been declining in mainland Europe since the 1960s, at least partly due to changes in farming practices. The hare has been hunted across Europe for centuries, with more than five million being shot each year; in Britain, it has traditionally been hunted by beagling and hare coursing, but these field sports are now illegal. The hare has been a traditional symbol of fertility and reproduction in some cultures, and its courtship behaviour in the spring inspired the English idiom mad as a March hare.

Hausos

Hausos (Proto-Indo-European: *h₂éwsōs) is the reconstructed name for the Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn. Derivatives of her found throughout various Indo-European mythologies include the Greek goddess Eos, the Roman goddess Aurōra, the Vedic goddess Uṣás, the Lithuanian goddess Aušrinė (cf. Lith. aušrà "dawn"), and possibly also the (West) Germanic goddess *Austrǭ (Old English Ēostre, Old High German *Ōstara). Outside Indo-European, though most likely influenced by Vedic religion, the Japanese goddess Uzume can also be found.The Dawn Goddess is hypothesised to have been one of the most important deities to the Proto-Indo-Europeans, due to the consistency of her characterisation as well as the relevance of Ushas in the Rig Veda. Her attributes have not only been mixed with those of solar goddesses in some later traditions, but have subsequently expanded and influenced female deities in other mythologies.

List of people, items and places in Norse mythology

Norse mythology includes a diverse array of people, places, creatures, and other mythical elements.

Names of Easter

The Christian holiday Easter has several names. The names differ depending on languages, but most are derived from Greek and Latin "pascha". The modern English term Easter developed from the Old English word Ēastre or Ēostre (Old English pronunciation: [ˈæːɑstre, ˈeːostre]), which itself developed prior to 899, originally referring to the name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess Ēostre.

Rheda (mythology)

In Anglo-Saxon paganism, Rheda (Latinized from Old English *Hrêðe or *Hrêða, possibly meaning "the famous" or "the victorious") is a goddess connected with the month '"Rhedmonth"' (from Old English *Hrēþmōnaþ). Rheda is attested solely by Bede in his 8th century work De temporum ratione. While the name of the goddess appears in Bede's Latin manuscript as Rheda, it is reconstructed into Old English as *Hrēþe and is sometimes modernly anglicized as Hretha (also "Hrethe" or "Hrede"). Hrēþmōnaþ is one of three events (apart from the days of the week) that refer to deities in the Anglo-Saxon calendar—the other two being Ēostermōnaþ and Mōdraniht.

Saitopolemos

Saitopolemos is a customary celebration that take place in the Greek city of Messini during Easter. According to legend, its roots can be traced back to the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s, and especially to a battle the Greeks fought against the army of the Egyptian Sultan Ibrahim Pasha. However, this explanation is disputed. The 19th century Greek Romantic tradition used to place the nativity of the majority of Greek customs in the period of Turkish occupation (1453-1821). The biggest argument against the traditional view is the fact that the celebration takes place during Easter week, whereas most historians agree that the events the traditional songs refer to did not occur during that time of year. Easter celebration is often connected with fires so the celebration's roots can be traced back to the first Christian societies.The celebration takes place in Kalamata Metropolitan Stadium where the participants are divided into 10 to 15 teams. Each team consists of 15 to 30 people, mainly young boys. The preparation for the event begins weeks before Easter festivities with young people preparing their saites for the event. A saita is a circular object filled with flammable material. When the celebration begins the players light up their saites and the stadium glows with flame. The custom is controversial because it is very dangerous. The Greek media have been highly critical of it, and there have been calls for its termination. But the locals insist that the custom is a tradition they inherited from their ancestors. Kalamata's mayor and upper priest have been supportive of the event.

Scoppio del carro

The Scoppio del Carro ("Explosion of the Cart") is a folk tradition of Florence, Italy. On Easter Sunday, a cart, packed full of fireworks and other pyrotechnics, is lit and provides a historic spectacle in the civic life of the city.

Ushas

Ushas (Vedic Sanskrit: उषस् / uṣás) is a Vedic goddess of dawn in Hinduism. She repeatedly appears in the Rigvedic hymns, states David Kinsley, where she is "consistently identified with dawn, revealing herself with the daily coming of light to the world, driving away oppressive darkness, chasing away evil demons, rousing all life, setting all things in motion, sending everyone off to do their duties". She is the life of all living creatures, the impeller of action and breath, the foe of chaos and confusion, the auspicious arouser of cosmic and moral order called the Ṛta in Hinduism.Ushas is the most exalted goddess in the Rig Veda, but not as important or central as the three male Vedic deities Agni, Soma and Indra. She is on par with other major male Vedic deities. She is portrayed as a beautifully adorned young woman riding in a golden chariot or a hundred chariots, drawn by golden red horses or cows, on her path across the sky, making way for the Vedic sun god Surya. Some of the most beautiful hymns in the Vedas are dedicated to her. Her sister is Ratri, or the night.

Anglo-Saxon paganism and mythology
Gods and divine figures
Heroic figures
Other beings
Locations
Sources
Origins
Society and culture
Neopagan revival
Months and
modern equivalents
Week days
See also
Main topics
Christianity
Traditions
Music
Media
Related topics
Related events
Society

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.