Of the major lanuages, only English and German call the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection anything like “Easter.” In German it’s Ostern, but in most other languages it’s something like the Dutch Pasen or Italian Pasqua, “Passover.” Even in Welsh (Pasg) and Irish (Cáisc) it’s derived from the Hebrew (by way of Latin). In a few sensible places the holiday is called “Resurrection Day.” I’ve noticed this increasingly happening in America, too, and I’m glad.
Yes, it has more syllables. I still prefer it.
Because “Easter” comes from Eostre, a pagan fertility goddess. Drag in all the revisionist symbolic explanations you can conjure, but that’s why the rabbits and the eggs. Seriously. There are no rabbits or eggs in the resurrection story. I checked.
If like me you’re interested in this kind of comparison, here’s a long list of what Resurrection Day is called around the world, and an even longer one of how to say “Happy Easter” in a bunch of languages. Find the Anglo-Germanic influences!
Next year, I am going to make more of an effort to use “Resurrection Day” instead of “Easter.” Because words are important. Christians have certainly done a more thorough job of co-opting the pagan holiday Ostara than the heathen have of co-opting Christmas. But in that sense, Easter has become an abstract, whereas Resurrection represents a concrete tenet of our faith.
And no, I don’t consider it too late to discuss this. Eastertide, or Paschaltide, or Resurrectiontide, continues until Pentecost.
What do you think? How do you feel about the pagan origin of the word “Easter?”