Ostara

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Old English Ēostre (also Ēastre) and Old High German Ôstarâ are the names of a putative Germanic goddess whose Anglo-Saxon month, Ēostur-monath, has given its name to the festival of Easter. Eostre is attested only by Bede, in his 8th century work De temporum ratione, where he states that Ēostur-monath was the equivalent to the month of April, and that feasts held in her honour during Ēostur-monath had died out by the time of his writing, replaced by the "Paschal month". The possibility of a Common Germanic goddess called *Austrōn- was examined in detail in 19th century Germanic philology, by Jacob Grimm and others, without coming to a definite conclusion.

Linguists have identified the goddess as a Germanic form of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn, *Hausos, some scholars have debated whether or not Eostra is an invention of Bede's, and theories connecting Eostre with records of Germanic Easter customs (including hares and eggs) have been proposed.

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Etymology

Ēostre derives from Proto-Germanic *austrō, ultimately from a PIE root *au̯es-, "to shine" and closely related to a conjectural name of Hausos, the dawn goddess, *h2ausōs, which would account for Greek Eos, Roman Aurora and Indian Ushas.[1]

The modern English term Easter is the direct continuation of Old English Ēastre, which is attested solely by Bede in the 8th century.[2] Ēostre is the Northumbrian form while Ēastre is West Saxon.[3]

Bede states that the name refers to a goddess named Ēostre who was celebrated at Eosturmonath, one of the months of the Anglo-Saxon calendar. In the 19th century Hans Grimm cited Bede when he proposed the existence of an Old High German equivalent named ōstarūn, plural, "Easter" (modern German language Ostern). There is no certain parallel to Ēostre in North Germanic languages though Grimm speculates that the east wind, "a spirit of light" named Austri found in the 13th century Icelandic Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, might be related.

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