The Church of England, more specifically, one of its bishops complained earlier this week about how Cadbury (manufacturer of Easter eggs etc) and the UK’s National Trust (planning to run egg hunts on its properties) had dropped the word Easter and that was tantamount to spitting in the face of the founder of Cadbury and a slur against Christianity. Our Prime Minister took time out from her busy schedule in the Middle East to back the bishop on this. Neither of them had checked whether this dropping of Easter was anything but fake news. Moreover, a similar story circulated in 2016 and was debunked then too.
Of course, it was all great free publicity for Cadbury and the National Trust, but it’s worth pointing out that the bishop was in the wrong. Neither Cadbury nor the NT had dropped the word Easter from their marketing of the events, it was there plain as day from the first poster to the first tweet.
Of course, Cadbury was a Quaker and didn’t celebrate Easter at all and for those who say he’d be spinning in his grave, they’re wrong too…he was cremated.
Meanwhile, the notion of fake Easter news isn’t at all new, it goes back centuries. Theories abound that Easter was originally a pagan spring festival named for an Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre and that it was simply misappropriated by the Christian patriarchy. Well, that’s fake news.
According to Richard Sermon, the Archaeological Ofﬁcer for Bath and North East Somerset, who has a long-standing interest in both historical linguistics and English folklore, writing some time ago in the The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture (2008, 1(3), 331-334; DOI: 10.2752/175169708X329372) the connection may have been speculation on the part of the 7th-8th century monk we know as “The Venerable Bede”.
In Bede’s time, Ēosturmōnaþ (Old English for ‘Month of Ēostre’) translated as “Paschal month” and corresponded to April, and Bede claimed that it was a month of feasting and celebration to honour the goddess. There is no evidence of this, Sermon suggests.