Updated: Mar 11
Today I saw that some are teaching that the origins of Ash Wednesday are from Norse Paganism. The origins are Frankish. We live in a mis-information age, and the world wide web has a lot of mis-information on it. Before I discuss the Frankish Heathen calendar and its moon of "Lentzimanod" (where the word "lent" comes from, a word that means "lengthening (of days)"), I must discuss the difference between the Franks and Anglo-Frisians, vs. the Saxons and Scandinavians. While ALL these groups did venerate the Aesir, only the Franks and Anglo-Frisians (who went to England) had knowledge of the Goddess Eostre and the Roman Matronae cult. Only these tribes were aware of a "Mothers Night" and an "Eostre" which is a product of the Matronae Cult of the Roman Rhineland. I would strongly suggest two books here, which discuss archaeological evidence, linguistic evidence, and the historical literary evidence. There are around 150 or so Austriahenae stones to Eostre (Austri) found in the Roman Rhineland and in southern England. There are Matronae stones as well. The literary evidence for Ostar/Eostre and "Lent" can be found in only two literary historical sources: Bede's De Temporum Ratione (Chapter 15) dated to 725 AD) and Einhard's Vita Karoli Magni Chapter 29) dated to around 830 AD. Bede's De Temporum Ratione of 725 AD, which is a telling of the Old English calendar used in Kent. In it, there is an Old English moon (the fourth moon of the year) called "Eostre Moon". Eostre the Goddess is attested ONLY in this historical source. To be more clear, Eostre the Goddess is attested once and only once in historical literary sources. Bede states the moon of Eostre was named after the Goddess Eostre, and gives us no other evidence of who this Goddess was/is. Einhard's Vita Karoli Magni, chapter 29, written around 830 AD, lists the twelve Frankish moon names. Ostar is the fourth moon of the year, and Lentzimanod (or Lengthening Moon) is the third moon of the year. Ostar is not called a Goddess in this text. I do personally believe she was known in Frankia and Frisia, as the Austriahenae stones of the Matronae cult prove that she was venerated there. While I myself am a Saxon Heathen, I have tremendous respect for Old English Heathenry, or Anglo-Frisian Heathenry. here are two books that discuss the Roman Matronae Cult, and the archaeological evidence that this Matronae Cult was brought to Britain with the Roman invastion of Britannia:
Here is the historical Frankish Heathen Calendar, recorded by Einhard in Vita Karolini Magni, chapter 29, translation mine: "He (Charlemagne) began a grammar of his native language. He gave the moons (months) names in his own tongue, in place of the Latin and barbarous names by which they were formerly known among the Franks. He likewise designated the winds by twelve appropriate names; there were hardly more than four distinctive ones in use before. He called January, Wintarmanoth; February, Hornung; March, Lentzinmanoth; April, Ostarmanoth; May, Winnemanoth; June, Brachmanoth; July, Heuvimanoth; August, Aranmanoth; September, Witumanoth; October, Windumemanoth; November, Herbistmanoth; December, Heilagmanoth." Lentzinmanoth is the moon before Ostarmanoth, a moon on the Frankish calendar. The full moon of Lentzimanoth would not be at the same time that the Swedes did Disting and the Saxons did their annual Al-Thing. And I assure you, Saxons and Scandinavians (and Frisians, Franks, and Angles) did not put ashes on their heads on a Wednesday. The Full Moon of Distingstungl (on the third full moon of the year after the solstice) is not ever in February. This would not be around the same time of an ASH Wednesday on a solar calendar that ignores the moon completely, like our modern calendar. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which is about the same time as the new moon of the third moon of the year. Disting was done on the Full Moon of the third moon of the year.
The world's foremost scholar on the dating of Scandinavian Holidays is Dr. Andreas Nordberg, who says: "The pre-Christian Yule feast occurs at the first full moon after the first new moon following the winter solstice, while the disting took place at the third full moon according to thesame method of calculation." (Nordberg, Andreas. 2006. Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning: Kalendrar och kalendariska riter i det förkristna Norden. Kungl. Gustav Adolfs Akademien för svensk folkkultur: Uppsal). Yule most years occurs in January, but occasionally it can be in early February. Which means Disting can be very late in March/early April. The Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg Chapter 17 (circa 1000 AD): "As I have heard odd stories concerning their ancient mid-winter sacrifices (blots), I will not allow this custom to be ignored. The middle of that kingdom is called Lederun (Lejre), in the region of Sjælland, all the people gathered every nine years in January, that is after we have celebrated the birth of the Lord, and there they offered to their gods sacrifices…” Therefore, Thietmar of Merseburg makes clear, the Danes in Lejre did their mid-winter (also called "Yule" in January.) If Yule was on the first full moon after the first fool moon after the solstice, then Disting was in the middle of March, and not on Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday has nothing to do with Disting or even Sigrblot (and the Scandinavians did not venerate Eostre or Ostar), so one cannot connect Scandinavian Heathenry to "Ostara." Language today proves this as well. While the English and German speaking world calls the christian Passover "Easter", the Scandinavian world calls "easter" the Greek word for "Passover". That is correct, in Scandianvia today, "easter" is called "Pask" (or "Paska", various spellings.) Scandinavian Calendar Rods, Scandinavian Runic Calendars make clear that Sigrblot was the fourth full moon after the first new moon after the solstice. This is the Saxon and Scandinavian start of Summer. Bede's calendar of the Anglish show that the Old English Eostre was on a Full Moon, of the fourth moon of the year. Bede comes out and states in De Temporum Ratione that the Old English start their season of Winter via the Full Moon of a moon called Winterfylleth (which means "Winter Full Moon.") Even the church dates Easter using the full moon (Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.) The church is more Heathen than those using the equinox to date "Ostara;" as the church, like the Frankish and Anglish Heathens dated their Eostre to a Full Moon... The first day of Lentzinmanoth (a new moon) is about six weeks before the full moon of "Ostar" (and also about six weeks before Easter Sunday) Hence this six week period sorta matches the church's six weeks of Lent.
Only the name "lent" (meaning "length") is Frankish Heathen, as the other Germanic tribes called the third moon of the Year "Distingstungl". This gets the Anglo-Frisians/Old English and Franks up in arms a bit, but the Tribes that stayed in Frisia and Northern Frankia and the Tribes who went to England had Hreda Manod and/or Lentzimanod as their third moon of the year, while the Saxons in Saxony and the Scandinavians had "distingstungl" also called "Goa" or "Goje". Remember, the tribes that moved to England (and those that remained in Frisia) used the Anglo-Frisian Futhorc, and not the Eldar Futhark. While all these tribes venerated the Aesir, only the Franks, Frisians, and Old English were influenced by the Matronae cult. This led to holidays known as "Mothers' Night" and "Eostre" which are not mentioned in Saxony and Scandinavia, nor is "Ostara" a Goddess in the Eddas or ANY Scandinavian literature. The Austriahenae stones (there are between 150-200 of them) are only found in Northern Frankia and Frisia (the Roman Rhineland) and in southern England, as well documented by Dr. Philip Shaw in his book on Eostre and the Matronae. The linguistic and archaeological evidence lines up with this, and is so ridiculously proven by Dr. Shaw, other University professors around the world accept it as FACT (and they should).
In short, most people around the world (accept for in English and German speaking countries) call Easter "Passover" or "Pascha." See the map below of where Christian "passover" is called "easter" in the world. Old Saxon and even early Christian Scandinavian writings contain the words "paska" (or a similar spelling variant) for "Easter." Modern Scandinavia calls christian easter "Pask." The word "Easter" is only attested twice in historical writings before the Christians in England and Germany, long long after Heathenry was crushed, started to call "Pascha" or "Passover" Easter, i.e. in the early middle ages. Winter Nights is the most attested Scandinavian holiday in historical sources and the sagas, and yet, every October, there are almost zero "Winter Nights" posts. Why? I can only surmise that most "pagans" do not read the Sagas, and most are so used to Christian Easter and Xmas that they keep a "paganized" Xmas and Easter. Xmas and Easter have nothing to do with Saxon and Scandinavian Sigrblot and Yule. This is why I follow Aldsidu, as we want the world-view of our pre-christian Ancestors. It is not difficult to go to work via a secular calendar in our modern word, and have a spiritual one that is also observed for religious purposes. Many religions, like Judaism do this today. The Old Ways will always be a smaller crowd, because it requires time in research, and a change of a world view. Other Pagan paths are short, and really just a continuation of a Westernized Christian world view. Please check out the Facebook Group "Aldsidu: Saxon Heathenry" and the page "Germanic Heathenry." Also, check out the Aldsidu videos by Robert Sass on YouTube.