This is not a joke post, this is another piece in my holiday’s series where I take a little bit deeper of a dive into what these holidays actually are and where they came from. Believe it or not this holiday does not have its origins (in the current iteration) in some ancient pagan ritual. Yes, there is an argument to be made that April 1st can be correlated to some ancient spring festivals and I wouldn’t disagree. April fool’s day though isn’t a spring ritual, it is mainly a bi product of a calendar switch.
It’s a brief that snapshots many time lines but the actual term “April fools” came about in the 1580’s when France moved to the Georgian calendar. Prior the “New year” was celebrated on April 1st, basically when spring began. The Georgian calendar pulls the “New Year” back to January 1st.
From the link: “People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.” These pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poison d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.”
Back in the 1580’s news moved a little slower than it did today. So this is where we get the term “April Fool’s”. Obviously this has evolved over time and is now simply a jest. Playing jokes on people is an ancient custom, we can go back to ancient times and fine plenty of “humor” related festivals/celebrations. April Fools became a day of pranks centuries after the switch to the Georgian calendar, which most of us in the west are using. Like many customs it began as a joke for the rich to prank each other and the lower classes wanting to emulate adopted the practice.
It’s evolved to where we are today, a light hearted holiday that really has no universal celebration, parades etc. Many people have their own traditions and playing small jokes on people is common place. So today if someone tells you “April fools” and plays a joke on you take it in stride, get them back next year. Be thankful you weren’t around in 1580 and the calendar got changed and no one let you know about it…
I suppose back then it didn’t really matter what month or day it was did it? You were just trying to get through another day. Thanks for coming by and supporting my blog I really appreciate it. Want to see another post like this one? Click here.
This is another post in my “Pagan/Holiday” series and this one might be more controversial because to be blunt, the only way to explain Ostara is to accurately articulate how Christianity absorbed this pagan holiday. This isn’t an anti-Christian piece. We are just going to make some observations here please take it in the spirit in which it is offered, an examination of Ostara.
Ostara is celebrated on the spring equinox around March 21. The feast marks the beginning of the summer half of the year and is a celebration of fertility and was known as a fire festival. It is named after the goddess Ostara who was an integral part of pre Christian Germanic culture that the Christians stole and absorbed it as their own spring feast which was adapted for the Paschal holiday, and was converted to the Christian Easter. Her name is related to the Germanic words for “east” and “glory”; she was the embodiment of the springtime and the renewal of life.
We have to keep in mind that the evolution of holidays/celebrations are fluid there is no fixed “time” for any of it. Easter (check the origin of this name…) is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ but this wasn’t always the case. In the very early years of Christianity Christ’s resurrection was celebrated weekly. It can’t be emphasized enough here how important his resurrection is to the Christian narrative. It wasn’t for another 200 years or so that Christians decided to celebrate it once a year, on or around the largest holiday of their closest rival’s pagans.
You have to keep in mind that the word in 200 AD was filled with “pagan” religions. Christianity was just another one of many it was not large. However, Christians had one thing many pagans did not. Their drive to further the word of Christ convinced them that others needed to be “converted” part of that conversion, in the early years was copying, and eventually absorbing holidays. Many Christian celebrations happen around the equinoxes, Easter is no exception and so we have this melding.
The Easter bunny? Pagans were decorating eggs at Ostara hundreds of years before Christ. The Hare was a sacred beast for the goddess. Pagan’s of the time decorated eggs and hid them for a hunt to signal to Ostara the hastening of the lands rebirth at spring. It is a major pagan holiday; the spring solstice marks the beginning of the summer period. This meant you survived the winter which was no small task at the time of its inception. Christianity was very smart in their approach to bringing their religion to the tribes of Europe.
They created their own holidays and celebrations close to those of the pagans and wove in parts of the tradition to help make the transition more palatable for the common person. Conversion at the time was far different then what you see in movies. Most of the narrative around Christianity is born from the medieval period. These events were taking place 1000 years before that. Conversion was a process that was not forced. Christians at the time did not have armies and countries to enforce their will they had the word of god and their will to share it with others, and their wit.
So this year if you paint an Easter egg, or hear of the Easter bunny maybe Ostara will smile down at you and make your spring time fruitful and full of joy and rebirth.
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