Saturday, April 23, 2011

Earth Day and Easter

There's a reason Earth Day is in Spring - we are giving thanks for newly green sprouts, tulips and crocuses poking their greenery above earth, snow melted, and wetness falling to provide more green leaves.

Easter, as my sister put it in her blog Aurum, is about rebirth and fertile earth. Tammuz and Adonis were  middle eastern gods celebrated during spring rituals celebrating the dying and resurrecting of the seasons - they were both beloved of goddesses who represented Mother Earth - Inanna and Astarte or Ishtar, much like the Greek story of Demeter and Persephone, who lived in the underworld for 6 months of the year, creating winter. See this website for the mythological stories behnd Easter. //

The very name "Easter" is derived from Eastre, or Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of spring and dawn. So there are many ancient pre-Christian references to this spring festival.

I also remember loving the newness of a Spring Coat and Hat (worn with little white gloves and patent leather shoes) for Easter Mass every year. Later this turned into a lace veil, when hats were no longer required at church. Easter was a magical time of chocolate bunnies, jelly beans and candy appearing on the dining room table behind closed doors, no entry until after attendance at Mass. And of course, Good Friday was a solemn walk around the stations of the cross contemplating a dying god.

Earth Day is a relatively new phenomenon, founded by US Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970 to put the plight of the environment on the political front burner through a grass-roots movement (much like the anti-Vietnam protests which blossomed on university and college campuses).  Read his story for the background on how the environmental movement got started with a concern for what humans are doing to the earth we live on.

I am grateful to both mythology, Christianity, Earth Day and grass-roots environmental protesters in the 70's for bringing attention to how we treat the abundant gifts of the earth, for the cyclical beauty of recurring seasons, for the potential for regeneration and new life out of death. For we have reason to celebrate life after a long cold winter, and to wonder at the circle of life and death and our place in the mystery.

I will spend this Easter in the company of family, celebrating two new births (great-grandchildren for my father-in-law), remembering recently deceased family members (my mother-in-law and an uncle), and eating from the bounty of Mother Earth in a Spring Feast.

How will you remember and give thanks?

Happy Easter, Joyeuses Paques

1 comment:

sue said...

it's lovely to see the common threads that run through myths and traditions. interesting post, off to check out the links.

have a wonderful weekend x