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Eostre

Eostre is another name for the Spring Equinox, when day and night are of equal length. It falls on or around March 21st. Other names include Ostara and Eostar.

In Old England, the Anglo-Saxon name for April was "Eostremonath". Eostre was possibly a Goddess of the Dawn as the word "Eostre" is related to "East". As the Sun risies is the East each day and this is a time of growing light, this is very fitting. The Anglo-Saxon year consisted of two seasons - Summer and Winter. Winter began at Samhain and Summer began at Eostre.

The Easter bunny

The Easter bunny of today has his origins in Old England. As a highly fertile animal, the Hare was an obvious choice for symbolizing Eostre with its theme of re-birth and ancient folklore associates the Hare with laying eggs.

Hot cross buns

Hot cross buns were originally eaten by the Anglo-Saxons in honour of their Goddess, Eostre. It is thought that the bun represented the Moon and the cross represented the Moon's quarters. To Christians the cross came to symbolise the crucifixion cross.

Spring crocuses
Spring primroses

Easter eggs

The egg is an ancient symbol of Eostre and represents re-birth. The tradition of decorating and giving eggs at Eostre is very old and in some areas people still take part in egg hunts and rolling eggs down a hill to celebrate.

Dying eggs
There many different plants which can be used to naturally dye eggs all sorts of colours.

1 cup lavender buds - light green
4 cups chopped red cabbage - blue
1 1/2 cups calendula petals and heads - yellow
12 medium sized onions (skins only) - orange
1 cup fresh spinach leaves - green

Making the dye
Select your chosen dying agent and place the recommended amount in a saucepan. Add 32 fl oz water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar. For large quantities of eggs, you can increase the amount: add an extra tablespoon of vinegar to every extra 16 fl oz of water used. Bring everything to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the dye into a bowl and allow to cool.

Hot dye method
Place the raw eggs in a saucepan of strained dye. Bring the eggs to the boil and allow them to cook in the dye until you achieve the shade of colour you want - usually this takes from 20 minutes to 2 hours. Remove the eggs and pat dry with a paper towel, then leave to thoroughly air dry on a rack.

Cold dye method
Hard boil ordinary eggs and leave to cool. Carefully lower the eggs into a bowl of dye and leave until the desired shade of colour is reached - this can take from 20 minutes up to overnight. Remove the eggs and pat dry with a paper towel, then leave to thoroughly air dry on a rack.

Wild flowers
Primroses

 

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Page last updated: 22 September, 2011

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