Some years ago, when I was researching about Pandora for my short story collection Accursed Women, I learnt there was an error in translation of a word. The significance of that mistranslation changed the way in which the myth was told and, subsequent interpretations through art and spin off stories. You can read about my blog post here: Idle curiosity of malicious intent. While researching about the origins of Easter, I learnt (many of you may already know this) that the Greek word ‘Pascha’ meaning Passover was mistranslated as Easter.
The term Easter dates long before the Christian faith took hold of it and embedded it into a tradition that Christians follow today. According to some experts, the word Easter is another form of Astarte or Ishtar, the Hebrews called her Ashtoreth. Easter was a celebration of spring, a day of renewal and resurrection, in particular to honour the Mother Goddess Ishtar. Worshippers would present to her with eggs and rabbits, her fertility symbols, which also ties in with new birth or budding life at the seasonal period of Spring.
The other and more popular conversion of the term Easter
goes to the celebration of the goddess of Spring, called Eostre also known as Ostara, Austra and Eastre. She was a Saxon goddess, or German depending on the source, who on the Spring Equinox—21st March—marks the time when daylight and night-time is equal. She was also associated with the hare.
To move away from the paganistic rituals, the Christians absorbed this tradition and the Jewish festival of Passover with the symbols such as resurrection, the egg, and the onset of Spring into the story of Jesus’ death. In any case, this was how the term Easter was refashioned by the Christians.
I will discuss the origins of the egg and rabbit in my next blog post. Thank you for your continued support and as always, I look forward to your comments and will respond.
Disclaimer: I am not a religious expert or purport to be one and the information presented is my interpretation of the research.
Historical fiction novelist and a secondary teacher, Luciana Cavallaro, burnt out but not done… yet.
Aust, Jerold (2006). What Are the Real Origins of Easter? Beyond Today. https://www.ucg.org/the-good-news/what-are-the-real-origins-of-easter
Goubej, Wendy (2009). Paganism and Easter. Amazing Discoveries. http://amazingdiscoveries.org/S-deception_pagan_Catholic_Easter_Ishtar
Travers, Penny (2017). Origin of Easter: From pagan festivals and Christianity to bunnies and chocolate eggs. ABC News. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-15/the-origins-of-easter-from-pagan-roots-to-chocolate-eggs/8440134