Did you know, the Christian festival that we call Easter in English originally takes its name from a Saxon goddess called Ostara? But, who was Ostara and what did she have to do with Easter?

 

Well, like many pagan traditions, the celebrations linked to Ostara were connected to the seasons: in this case the spring. Everyone loves the spring; there’s something about trees filled with pink and white blossom, pretty flowers like tulips and daffodils dancing in the breeze, and birds singing in the morning that makes everybody smile. Our ancestors loved spring just as much as we do: it was a time when winter ended and nature seemed to come alive again. They thought that during the spring, the goddess woke up and returned to the earth after her long winter sleep. Ostara represented re-birth, fertility and new life. Her symbols were eggs and rabbits or hares.

 

Is it starting to sound more familiar now? When people began to convert to Christianity, they combined the pagan holiday and the Christian celebration, as they both took place around the same time. We can still find Oastra’s symbols of new life, but today her egg is now made of chocolate and her rabbit is known as the Easter bunny!

 

Now, let’s practise!

Answer keys

 

Illustration by Giovanni Manna, taken from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll, Reading and Training Step 2 (B1.1)