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MYTH: Easter has pagan origins

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MYTH: Easter is derived from false pagan goddess

A couple years ago a Letter to The Editor in our local paper claimed that Easter was derived or was based upon Astarte - a goddess of ancient Ninevah. This would of course be a Lady of poor morals. Obviously this is an effort to discredit a Christian holiday set aside to worship the Ressurection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Following is a response Letter to The Editor and it was published.

The News Observer
Appalachian Highway
Blue Ridge, Georgia
April 5, 2015

Reference:  Easter’s roots found in religion of man (April 1, 2015 Issue)

Dear Editor:

The following is submitted for Letters to the Editor.

Easter is not derived from pagans

Mr. Towe’s recent letter titled, “Easter’s roots found in religion of man” was interesting, but contained a few inaccuracies.

Mr. Towe stated that Easter is derived from a pagan goddess. Somewhat humorously he also states that it is nothing but Astarte […] as pronounced by the people of Nineveh. If he means the pagan religions of ancient Nineveh, it is doubtful that they spoke English!

Beginning with the Council of Nicea Easter has been celebrated on the first Sunday, after first full moon, after the spring equinox. Passover begins on the 14th day of Nissan, which is the first lunar month after the spring equinox. Thus the date of Easter is associated with Passover, NOT the dates  of the pagan rites of Ishtar and other ladies of loose morals worshiped by pagans.

Latin adopted the Greek term for Passover, and in most European languages, Easter is called Pascha or words derived from it. In Old English Pascan, and Pasches in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for 1122. The terms the Pasch or Pascha are sometimes used in Modern English. Pace, a dialect form of Pasch, is found in Scottish English and in the English of northeastern England  and used in combination with the word "egg", as in "Pace Egg.”

In Romance languages, the name of Easter is derived from the Latin Pascha. In Spanish, Easter is Pascua, in Italian and Catalan Pasqua, in Portuguese Páscoa and in Romanian Paşt, in French, Pâques. In Romanian, the only Romance language of an Eastern church, the word Înviere (resurrection) is also used.

Albanian, although not a Romance language, borrows the Latin Pascha as Pashka. The holiday is frequently referred to in the plural, Pashkët.

In all modern Celtic languages the term for Easter is derived from Latin. In the Brittonic languages this has yielded Welsh Pasg, Cornish and Breton Pask. In Goidelic languages the word was borrowed before these languages had re-developed the /p/ sound and as a result the initial /p/ was replaced with /k/. This yielded Irish Cáisc, Gaelic Càisg and Manx Caisht.

In Dutch, Easter is known as Pasen and in the North Germanic languages Easter is known as påske (Danish and Norwegian), påsk (Swedish), páskar (Icelandic) and páskir (Faeroese). In Russia, Pascha (Paskha/Пасха), is a borrowing of the Greek form via Old Church Slavonic.

Let’s look at English. Turns out that Easter isn’t associated with a lady from Nineveh either.

The English word Easter is derived from Saxon and Germanic roots -  ostern.  The German word Ostern, is a cognate of Ost (east, or rising of the sun), and  erster (resurrection - older form). Thus, ester in English, which later morphed into easter, became the equivalent of oster which morphed into ostern in German.

Eggs were used in the Passover meal: symbolizing the korban chagigah (festival sacrifice) that was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem and was then eaten as part of the meal on Seder night. As Jesus was the sacrifice of the New Covenant eggs symbolize the Resurrection of Jesus. Has nothing to do with pagan rites.

So claims that Easter has pagan origins are false, Easter has always been a day to celebrate and remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ which offers all of us the glorious hope of salvation. If you do not have this hope today, every Sunday service is a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. Come visit one of His churches.

Respectfully submitted,

Mike Crane


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