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Pagans called it Oestra and Christians Easter. To Kevin Fisher-Paulson the spring holiday is still all about life and renewal.
By Kevin Fisher-Paulson
The first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox is coming. For Catholics this is known as Easter, that second-class citizen in the world of holidays. Christmas and Halloween get the big publicity but except for a few Sisters, no one wears an Easter Bonnet anymore.
All three holidays got started with the pagans. When Constantine was marketing Christianity to the Romans, he told them they could still have Saturnalia in December, if they signed on for the name change. Halloween was called Samhain in the Celtic culture as the festival at the beginning of the dark season, where the spirits were free to visit.
The balance to Samhain was the celebration of light, of Ostara, the goddess of the dawn. The pagans decorated eggs as a symbol of fertility and let that equally fertile rabbit deliver them. Each pagan wrote the one desired change for the coming year on a leaf, then wrapped that leaf around a seed and planted it.
When the Christians re-branded Oestra into Easter they did get the part right about the victory of spring, that joy wins. Birth and death and whatever comes next are all celebrated.
Our sons' grandmother is terminal with brain cancer, so death and life are hard topics for us this spring.
We're holding onto a piece of Ostara, to remember that life is a circle. Oh, the bunny will still deliver candy and I will still sing an Allelujah, but we will also weed our little yard. I'll take my sons into that garden and we'll plant sunflower seeds and I'll say, "Life gets renewed. There is no death. There is only change. A part of Nana and a part of me will always be in you, in every spring, when you clear the soil and remember that each of us brings life back to the earth."
Happy Oestra. Go get yourself a bonnet!
With a Perspective, this is Kevin Fisher-Paulson.
Kevin Fisher-Paulson is a captain with the San Francisco Sheriff's Department.