Gary Greenberg's blog on biblical studies and related matters

So, where did the holiday name Easter come from?

The name “Easter” is widely used for the holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, but the word doesn’t appear to have any biblical origins. The linguistic evidence suggests that the name is a variation on the name of several “dawn” goddesses in the Indo-European language families. More specifically, Eostre was a Germanic goddess whose name was assigned to the month in which the celebratory event usually occurred. Eventually, the coincidence of the holiday falling in the month named after the goddess led to the holiday being called Easter. At least that’s one widely held theory. Here’s a link to a Wikipedia article that discusses some of these issues.


Reader Comments

  1. I make a little hobby of locating good resources on the origin of Christmas and Easter, especially because many of the modern myths about it have become so entrenched. These are in some cases scholars whose expert revisions on Wikipedia get reverted because the facts don’t support the more popular accounts.

    One example, in most languages, the word for Easter is directly related to Hebrew Pascha (Passover), completely bypassing any pagan claims on the tradition. “The English name for Easter is the only thing about the festival where there’s direct evidence to support a pagan origin — and only in two languages, English and German (Easter and Ostern respectively). Sure, those are important languages. But the festival didn’t originate in England or Germany.”

    Here are a few better resources I recommend:
    http://talesoftimesforgotten.com/2020/04/06/no-easter-is-not-named-after-ishtar/
    http://kiwihellenist.blogspot.com/2018/03/easter-and-paganism-1.html
    https://historyforatheists.com/2017/04/easter-ishtar-eostre-and-eggs/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *