Easter for some
This year Easter and Wester are about as far apart as they possibly can be.
While Western Christians will be celebrating Easter tomorrow, Orthodox Christians will be having the Second Sunday of Lent:
Sunday 23rd March 2008
* Tone 2 – SECOND SUNDAY OF GREAT LENT
* St Gregory Palamas
* Commemoration of the Holy Fathers whose relics lie in the Kiev Caves (Near and Far)
So for tomorrow I wish my Western Christian friends, in Greek style Kali Anastasi (Good Resurrection!) — and well over the fast!
We will have to wait till 27 April for Pascha, but next year we will only be a week apart, and in 2010 we’ll both be celebrating Pascha/Easter on 4th April.
Festivals like Pascha/Easter seem to bring out all kinds of urban legends, not least about the origin of the feast. Some have gone so far as to claim that it was originally a festival of the goddess Eostre (and other spelling variations) whose symbols are hares and eggs.
If you want to know the details, you can read more about that on my other blog: Notes from underground: Easter – Christian or pagan?. Interestingly enough, though that was posted more than 6 months ago, this week it has risen to be the most popular post from that blog on Amatomu.
But for now suffice it to say that the old English name for April was Eostremonath, and since the Christian festival of Pascha usually fell in that month the English (but very few other people) began to call Pascha “Easter”. The Venerable Bede, who wrote the first history of the English Church, thought that the month may have been named after a goddess Eostre, whose festival fell around that time, but that is all that is known about her, and her alleged link to hares and eggs is pure legend from the urban mythmakers. If anyone can cite source older than Bede that says something different, I’m open to correction. But seeing it on a web site doesn’t count – the Web was not around in Bede’s day.
For an interesting Neo=Pagan take on this, see Ostara, the Spring Equinox, at Starweaver’s Corner.
Meanwhile Orthodox Christians, who said goodbye to eggs on Cheesefare Sunday, a fortnight ago, will have fun with their Easter eggs (and bacon, yum!) on 27 April.
In the Orthodox Church the Second Sunday in Lent is always marked by the commemoration of St Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), who is known for his theological defence of hesychasm. He distinguished between the essence and the energies of God, and said that while God in his essence is unknowable, his uncreated energies permeate all things and can be experienced by man through God’s grace. You can read more about St Gregory Palamas here.