Easter in Ireland is clearly these days viewed as a religious time in the sense of modern Christianity, however Easter or Ēostre, as a festival has been celebrated for many thousands of years before our current state accepted beliefs….
During last weekend we visited the hill of Tara one of Europe’s and Ireland’s oldest pagan monuments, It was a great time of the year to visit as the air was full of springtime with a feeling that summer was only just around the corner,warm days and long evenings. This is the exact feeling that surrounds the beliefs of the people who made this place so Sacred to their Pagan beliefs in the elements of nature and the seasons. I am never sure if these belief’s can fully be called a religion in modern terms, feeling that they were more a philosophy towards the world that they lived in and cared for very much!
here is a little about the long history of the hill of Tara:
Teamhair is the ancient name given the Hill of Tara. One of the most religious and revered sites in all of Ireland, it was from this hill that the Ard Rí, the High Kings of Ireland, ruled the land. The place was sometimes called Druim Caín (the beautiful ridge) or Druim na Descan (the ridge of the outlook). When walking the path that leads to the top of the hill today, one can easily appreciate why. The long gradual slope eventually flattens at the top for an amazing view of the broad plains in the Boyne and Blackwater valleys below. All that remains of the complex is a series of grass-covered mounds and earthworks that say little about the 5,000 years of habitation this hill has seen.
Most historians, including Biblical scholars, agree that Easter was originally a pagan festival. According to the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary says: “The word Easter is of Saxon origin, Eastra, the goddess of spring, in whose honour sacrifices were offered about Passover time each year. By the eighth century Anglo–Saxons had adopted the name to designate the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.” However, even among those who maintain that Easter has pagan roots, there is some disagreement over which pagan tradition the festival emerged from. Here we will explore some of those perspectives.
Resurrection as a symbol of rebirth
One theory that has been put forward is that the Easter story of crucifixion and resurrection is symbolic of rebirth and renewal and retells the cycle of the seasons, the death and return of the sun.
Hill of Tara Gallery
It’s Easter Saturday and the weather is still wonderful here in Kilkenny, It is a great feeling to be able to walk down the country lanes and get some great views of our local landscapes.
The Cattle are all out of the sheds for the summer and colour has returned to the fields.
The below Gallery are some images taken this morning on a walk around our local area.
Kilkenny Landscape Gallery
Easter(Ostara) time and Hawthorn flowers
In my last post I hinted that I was going to take a little time off over the Easter holidays, sometime away from my phone or laptop and get outside as much as possible, its spring time here and after all our winter storms the landscape is returning to life with colour and wildlife in full flow.
Yesterday I took some time to do some long walks, just myself and Molly our Golden retriever, around many of county Kilkenny’s paths and country lanes.
Each Easter here one of the first signs of Spring and Summer is the Hawthorn flowers, Hawthorn is a very popular form of hedging in the county and all the road side and field hedges turn to white as the flowers bloom.
The images here I hope show just how white and full these flowers are, its a wonderful sight each year and really lets you know that summer is only just around the corner..
Hawthorn Flowers : Gallery
Easter to many Christians marks a religious holiday and the two weeks around Easter weekend is traditionally a Holiday time.
Before the Christian tradition however it was still marked as Ostara by the Pagan world, marking a time of rebirth and new life, Life has returned to the landscape with new growth and natural foods available. Wild life is on the move again starting to make plans for a new breeding season, finding foods themselves and getting to put some much needed body weight back on.
Over the next two weeks I want to get out and capture these changes, as the march towards the summer months feels ever closer and closer.