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Easter Is All About Getting Knocked Up

Some of the pagan traditions that have come to influence how we celebrate Easter. Behold the occasionally unsavory process that goes into making a Christian holiday sausage. And here's more Easter History!

  • Why is Easter called Easter? Shouldn't it be called "Unburial Day" or "Night of the Living Christ" or "Jesus 2: Resurrection Harder"?

  • Thank you for asking, Rhetorical Device! According to the Venerable Bede, an 8th century monk who didn't earn his title from NOT being the Wayne Gretsky of documenting Christian antiquity, Easter is named after Eostre. She was the mother goddess of the ancient Germanic tribes in Northern Europe. Eostre's aliases among Anglo-Saxon pagans include Austron, Ausos, Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostur, Eastra, and, finally, Eastur. In what's going to be a recurring theme for this post, she was a fertility goddess.

  • Eostre, the Aquaman of ancient Germanic rabbits.

  • The Venerable Bede. You can trust him. He has a beard.

  • Why don't we celebrate Easter on the same day every year? A guy coming back to life and saving humanity is kind of a big deal. Surely someone would have marked that on a calendar.

  • No one knows the exact day, or even the exact decade, of the resurrection of Jesus. The holiday's convoluted schedule is determined by the vernal equinox, which is recognized every year on March 21st. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after March 21st. So Easter's scheduling has more in common with the Wiccan holiday of Eostara than with Christian tradition.

  • Easter's schedule is apparently determined by druid werewolves.

  • The vernal, or spring, equinox. You're basically worshiping it on Easter. Why don't you go burn a wicker man with Edward Woodward in it, you hippie?

  • Okay, fine. But a resurrection story being celebrated around the same time as the equinox is still uniquely Christian, right?

  • Nope. The ancient Mediterranean kingdom of Phrygia celebrated the spring equinox by worshipping Cybele, who was (you guessed and/or ovulated it) a fertility goddess. Honored alongside Cybele was her boy toy, Attis. Attis was, jinx, resurrected shortly after the equinox. Attis was also, double jinx, born of a virgin mother.

  • But unlike SOME figures from Phrygian and Greek mythology that I know, Jesus didn't kill himself by chopping off his own balls.

  • Cybele and Attis. Cybele was worshiped by orgy cults and Attis was worshiped by eunuchs. They were the StewPatt of their day.

  • *sigh* Next I suppose youre going to tell us that the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs have something to do with pagan fertility rituals?

  • Pretty much. Both the hare and the egg were symbols for Eostre, who herself was a wererabbit. She even had the rather useless super power to transform birds into rabbits. Although eggs are fairly universal icons for reproduction, so you dont need Dan Brown to draw any conspiratorial parallels. And besides lusting after breakfast cereals, we all know what rabbits are good at. Also, and you probably dont want to hear this, Easter Lilies are revered by pagans as holy phallic symbols.

  • Sorry.

  • At least the Easter Bunny doesn't look like this.

  • I give up. And Peeps are, what, pagan marshmallow Viagra?

  • No, but they were invented by the Rodda Candy Company in Pennsylvania, who employed many a German immigrant. Besides chicks, Rodda also made marshmallow candies in the shape of eggs and bunnies. Candy historians believe the Anglo-Saxon heritage of Rodda's employees led to these Eostre inspired confections. Yes, there is such a profession as candy historian. 

  • Peep show.

  • If you have any better idea as to what this photo could possibly have to do with the resurrection of Jesus, we're all floppy ears.

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