Saturday, April 23, 2011

Did the Viking celebrate Easter or Eostre?

The Goddess identified with fertility, love and new beginnings are Freyja and Iđunn. Freyja, in Old Norse means “Lady”, represented love, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, and death. She is often seen or represented on a chariot being pulled by two cats. She was the owner (Why? I don’t know why?) of the boar, Hildisvíni. Her cloak made of falcon feathers invoked all matters of fertility and love. Freyja is found the Poetic Eddas that were written in the early 13th Century from earlier sources. She can also be found in the Prose Eddas and Heimskringla both written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th Century. The Sagas of the Icelanders and the short story, Sörla þattr also mention Freyja. Scholars have theorized that Freyja and Odin’s wife, Frigg, may have origins as the same goddess in the Germanic mythology. Freyja’s image and name have been found throughout the Scandinavian countries especially in Southern Swden.

In the Poetic Edda written in the 13th Century by Snorri Sturluson, Iðunn is the Goddess associated with apples, youth and Spring. She is the keeper of the Golden Apple that keep the Asgard Gods and Goddess young. This also gives her the unique power to grant eternal youth. Like Freyja and Frigga, Iðunn is also linked with fertility. According to scholars, Iðunn is also linked with Germanic mythology. Apples have been found in early Germanic graves possibly representing youth and fertility. The Germanic goddess Nhalennia is also connected with apples.

Unlike Freyja, Iðunn, and Frigg,who are all mentioned extensively in the Prose Eddas, Sagas and name sakes, there is only one written sourced that mentioned Eostre. Eostre is Germanic, possibly Teutonic or Anglo-Saxon but not Norse. Her name is found in the Anglo-Saxon month of Eostur-monath which had given the name to the festival of Easter. The 8th Century monk, the Venerable Bede, wrote in his De temporum ratione that Eostur-monath was equal to April. This is the *only* documented mentioned of Eostre. No where else is she mentioned. It is theorized that the festival of “Paschal month” replaced a local goddess named Austron. Jacob Grimm in the 19th Century only found oral traditions to this goddess Austron but no other concrete evidence. There is a great deal of debate still amongst scholars whether or not Eostre was a mistranslation by Bebe or a fabrication.

So, simply put. No,the Pagan Vikings didn’t celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter. But, they did honor the Goddess Freyja and Iðunn. There is no evidence, yet, of them honoring Eostre. The Viking Age is considered to be between 793-1066 A.D. By, the mid 900 A.D. Christian missionaries were entering the Scandinavian countries to convert the “Pagans.” The Vikings often wore duel “crosses.” Sometimes they would accept a provisional baptism also known as “Prime-signing” but still call upon Thor, Odin and other Pagan gods if they felt Christ was quick enough to respond. Thus the crosses these Vikings wore were a cross between a Pagan symbol and the Christian cross. Followers of Christ were called White Christ" or Hvítakristr possibly due to the fact that newly converted Christians only wore white. It is possible that these early Christians celebrated a simplified version of Easter.

Bless Bless

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