Easter Was Not A Pagan Holiday

For years, opponents of the faith like spread conspiracy theories about our most beloved Christian Holy Days. More commonly we find these ideas spread about Christmas. But social media has recently been circulating that Easter is actually a pagan holiday.

The argument goes that the word “Easter” is taken from the goddess Ishtar who used eggs and bunnies in her worship services. The idea is that Christians simply appropriated all of the pagan imagery for their own.

Like any good conspiracy theory, the most important thing is that it sounds true rather than actually being true.

There are a number of problems with this theory right off the bat. The biggest one is that “Easter” is what the Holy Day is called in English. Modern English as we know it really didn’t take shape until 16 centuries after the Resurrection. And even if it is derrived from a Middle-English word, this wouldn’t happen until the Dark Ages at the earliest. Even the secular Britannica online admits that the idea that the word “Easter” is of pagan origin is “a rather dubious presumption.”

In most of the world, the word used for “Easter” is taken from the Hebrew word “Pesach,” which means “Passover.” Holy Week changes from year to year because it follows the Jewish Passover each year. It is one of the reason why we call the death and resurrection of Christ the Paschal (I.e. Passover) Mystery.

The point is that the conspiracy only works if you ignore all the other languages of the world. In other words, you could only fall for this if you believe that Easter is called “Easter” all over the world, which it is not.

In all likelihood, the word “Easter” comes from the High German word “Eostarum” which comes from a Latin phrase about the dawn. The association of the dawn with Easter is as ancient as the 1st century.

Regarding the bunnies and eggs, there is no evidence that these were associated with Ishtar. The animals that she is most associated with are the lion and the dove. Her other symbols include the 8-pointed star. The first time we see something like the Easter Bunny who is in 17th Century Germany. And there is almost no chance that this comes from Ishtar as she was never worshipped in Germany.

There are many more sources that are easily available to debunk this anti-Christian conspiracy. Because Christianity is a religion based on historical facts, the enemies of the faith will constantly try to separate historical truth from the spiritual reality.

But Easter reminds us that in the end, Christ always overcomes those who try to overcome Him.

Copyright 2023, WL Grayson

W.L. Grayson

W.L. Grayson

I am a devoutly Catholic theology teacher who loves a popular culture that often, quite frankly, hates me. I grew up absorbing every movie, TV show, comic book, science fiction novel, etc. I could find. As of today I’ve watched over 2100 movies and tv shows. They take up a huge part of my life. I don’t know that this is a good thing, but it has given me a common vocabulary to draw from in order to illustrate whatever theological point I make in class. I’ve used American Pie the song to explain the Book of Revelation (I’ll post on this some time later) and American Pie the movie to help explain Eucharist (don’t ask). The point is that the popular culture is popular for a reason. It is woven into the fabric of our lives and imaginations, for good or ill. In this blog I will attempt to bring together the things of heaven with the things of earth. Of course this goal may be too lofty for someone like me.

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