An Easter Origin Story: Eostre or Ishtar? Not Jesus.

Happy Easter to all but why do we celebrate this time of year? Understandably Christians celebrate because for them it celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, however many misunderstand the fact that this is not historically a religious festival. Furthermore, within this age of consumerism, marketing giants and large corporations have use the time of year to create a demand for Easter presents, simply put though why do we allow to be dictated to when we should celebrate something?

Normally when writing I personally refuse to put ‘I’ because there is a need to be as independent as possible however, this one time I shall say that I dislike any time of year that dictates when and who I should celebrate with (Christmas included), the want to treat those we care about surely should be natural and be done through want for ourselves?

Easter as become incredibly consumer orientated that it has become a season detached from all history religious or not, do people really understand why the celebration of Easter exists or why the symbol is a rabbit and an egg?

Eostre, the goddess of spring

One perspective is that originally it was a celebration of the goddess of spring, Eostre, otherwise known as Ostara, Austra, and Eastre. One if the most revered aspects of this celebration whether it is from ancient or modern observers, is a spirit of renewal, it was celebrated at the Spring Equinox on March 21st, Ostara marks the day when light is equal to darkness and will continue to grow.

Easter customs widely relate to the symbol of the rabbit and an egg, as previously stated. The rabbit was a symbol associated with Eostre which represented the beginning of springtime, likewise the egg came to represent spring, with the ideas of fertility and renewal. Germanic mythology states that Ostara healed a wounded bird she found in the woods by changing it into a hare, whilst still partially a bird, the hare showed its gratitude to the goddess by laying eggs as a gift.

Sumerian legend of Damuzi

A different perspective is that the Easter story comes from the Sumerian legend of Damuzi (Tammuz) and his wife Inanna (Ishtar), in an epic myth called “The Descent of Inanna”. When Tammuz dies, Ishtar is grief-stricken and follows him to the underworld, where she enters through seven gates and her worldly attire is removed. “Naked and bowed low” she is judged, killed, and hung on display.

In her absence, the earth loses its fertility, crops cease to grow and animals stop reproducing and unless something is done, all life on earth will end. After Ishtar has been missing for 3 days her assistant goes to other gods for help, when finally, one of them, Enki, creates two creatures that carry the plant of life and water of life, sprinkle it on Tammuz and Ishtar resurrecting them whilst giving them the power to return to earth as the light of the sun for 6 months. After 6 months are up Tammuz returns to the underworld of the dead, this prompts Ishtar to pursue him, prompting the water god to rescue them both, this represents the cycles of winter death and spring life.

In short

The second perspective is easy to see that when The Bible was written, the date chosen for Christ’s resurrection was at Easter. Regardless of what you celebrate it for surely the exploitation of it by corporations and marketing executives is a cause for concern, without explaining why it exists, whichever perspective is true what we know for certain is that much like Christmas, Easter is another festival adopted by Christianity.

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