Is this the correct etymology of the word Easter?
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There is actually strong evidence for pagan festivals marking the coming of the Spring and taking place at the time of year of present day Easter. This is the root of the etymology of Easter.
For Christians Easter marks the commemoration of the crucifixion and death of Jesus. However, one should note that the Gospels tell us that Jesus came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover. In other words Easter was already one of the most important Jewish festivals long before Jesus was crucified.
In theory the Jewish Passover itself celebrates the return of the Jews from Egypt, but it always takes place in Spring (in the Northern Hemisphere) in the Month of Nisan which is the first month of the Jewish religious calendar. Similarly you may know that March used to be the first month of the Latin calendar (which BTW explains why September is the 9th Month of the year, not the 7th).
The truth is that many pagan cultures have considered for centuries the Spring equinox as the start of the year and marked the event with important celebrations.
The word Easter itself is a good indication of this: whereas many other Christian cultures use a name cognate of the Hebrew Pasḥa (Pâques in French, Pasqua in Italian, Pascua in Spanish), German uses Ostern, and English uses Easter. This indicates that the Anglo Saxon already had such a feast at this time of the year.
Also note that the Welsh use Pasg and Irish use Cáisc. Why not Easter ? Simply because Wales and Ireland were Christianised during the Roman domination, a few centuries before the Anglo Saxons pagan migrations.
Now about the link with the East then ?
All indications point at the fact that the arrival of Spring was celebrated at the equinox and that the precise date of this event was determined by the position of the sun on the horizon at dawn. What I mean is that during Winter the course of the sun in the sky is a smaller arc and conversely a larger one in Summer. So let's consider the position of the sun on the horizon at sun rise. In Summer it will be further on the left and in Winter further on the right for an observer in the Northern Hemisphere. The medium position will determine the Equinox.
Since the sun rises in the East, to know the date for Easter you would have to look East. That might seem like a far fetched explanation but the German for Easter is Ostern and the German for East is Osten.
Also look at the etymology of the Ostrogoths: "Ostrogothi" means "Goths of (or glorified by) the rising sun". This has been interpreted as "gleaming Goths" or "east Goths".
Links with Ishtar and Astarte. Well these are the Godesses of fertility that were celebrated at these feasts in Assyria/Babylon and in Archaic Greece respectively. But there are many other variations: Rhea, Demeter, Hathor and in Ancient Germanic mythology: Ostara.
As for the star, I can't help noticing that Ishtar and Astarte/Aphrodite are also the goddesses of the planet Venus. Hence the name of the planet even today. Remarkably the astronomers have recognised the fact by naming some of its continents after the Goddesses.
1/ About Venus
2/ About the computation of the date of Easter the Germanic/Pagan way vs the Roman Catholic way.
That was before the Synod of Whitby in which the computation of the date of Easter passed from the German/pagan way to the Roman Christian way (see Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Book III/Ch. iii):
The only widely-quoted etymology is from the Venerable Bede's The Reckoning of Time, in a section where he lists the Anglo-Saxon months, calling April Eostur-monath, and suggesting that this was derived from the name of a goddess who was no longer worshipped. No other convincing evidence for this has been found, and if he wrote it today then it would be regarded as a folk etymology.
Linguistics has suggested that this may be related to other Indo-European words for dawn or shine, suggesting that perhaps Eostur-monath was simply something like Spring-month, and so Easter is named as the festival in Spring. But this is speculation too.
This is what I found on the OED, it seems it is related to "a goddess whose festival was celebrated at the vernal (=spring) equinox":
It's easy to see the composition: Eostur + monath (month) = Month of Eostre.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary:
The NOAD reports the following note, about the etymology of the word.
protected by Rathony Feb 29 at 16:53
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