Gosh dammit I love when ppl know what they are talking about.
Easter in a nutshell.
This is interesting, but problematic:
- My Akkadian and Sumerian are a little rusty, but most sources I’ve come across pronounce Ishtar as “eesh-tar”… which I guess is how some people might pronounce “Easter”, depending on their accent.
- The ancient Christians didn’t refer to this holiday as “Easter”. It was called “pascha” (πάσχα), which is a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic form of the Hebrew term “pesach” (פֶּסַח), the Passover feast. Saint Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5:7 that “Christ, our Passover (or, Passover lamb, depending on the translation) has been sacrificed for us”.
The term “Easter” is something almost exclusively English (with the similar German name, “Ostern”). On that note, the fest was historically referred to in English as “the Pasch” or “Pace” at times. Across the world, the feast is known either by the name “Pascha” or names derived from it, such as:
Arabic: Id al-Fish (which is a cognate with the Hebrew P-S-H sound)
And there’s a ton more. A bunch of the names for Easter in Slavic languages tend to mean “resurrection”, like the Serbin “Vaskrs”. There’s some more listed here:http://www.religioustolerance.org/easter7.htm
- Now, where did the name “Easter” come from? I’ll give you a hint: it’s of a pre-Christian (or pagan, if you like) origin. The person who made this poster, however, got the wrong form of paganism.
The word we’re looking for here is Ēostre (or Ēastre), which is the name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn (the former being a Northumbrian variant, and the latter being a West Saxon variant). The theory is that her name is derived from the Proto-Germanic “austro”, which derives from the Proto-Indo-European root of “-*awes”, which would account for other dawn goddesses with similar names, such as the Greek Eos, the Roman Aurora, and the Indian Ushas.
But there’s even some dispute about the “pagan” connotations of Easter with the goddess Eostre. Saint Bede, an English monk from the 7th century, writes that the Old-English month corresponding with April was called Eostur-monath, which was a month in which festivals of the goddess Eostre were celebrated.
The German philologist and mytholigist Jacob Grimm (of the Brothers Grimm) reconstructed the word Ostara, a proposed cognate of Eostre amoung the continental Germanic peoples. Since then, linguists have identified this *Hausos, the personification of the dawn in the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion.
Some scholars, however, hold that Eosturmonath meant nothing more than “the month of opening” and that Bede was mistaken in connecting it with a goddess. In fact, some have speculated that “Easter” rose from the old Latin designation of the Easter Week as “in albis” (with albis being the plural of alba- “dawn”), which translated into Old High German is “eostarun”.
- Now for the Easter eggs (one of my favourites)!
Eggs have been traditionally used as fertility symbols, going back to decorated ostrich eggs from Africa 60,000 years ago, up to Sumerian and Egyptian egg decorations placed in graves 5,00 years ago, and plenty more. Eggs represent more than just fertility though: they represent rebirth.
Early Christians in Mesopotamia began a custom of staining eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed during the crucifixion. This tradition became accepted in the West, as the Catholic Church came to view Easter eggs as a symbol of the resurrection. In 1610, Pope Paul V proclaimed in a prayer:
”Bless, O Lord! we beseech thee, this thy creature of eggs, that it may become a wholesome sustenance to thy faithful servants, eating it in thankfulness to thee on account of the resurrection of the Lord.”
As well, in the Orthodox Churches (which is the part of Christianity I belong to), eating eggs is forbidden during Lent (the period leading up to the Easter feast) because we prepare for these feasts by fasting- which in our case, means holding to a vegan diet. The eating of eggs resumes on Easter (and there is an abundance of them, since they are not consumed during Lent).
- And now the Easter Bunny! Rabbits, as with eggs, have been considered a fertility symbol. They are also a symbol of playful sexuality (think of the phrase “breed like bunnies”). And fertility symbols, as with eggs, can also be tied into symbols of rebirth. Rabbits, given their species role as a prey animal, they are also associated with innocence, which ties them into Easter.
Here’s another fun fact: in antiquity, the hare was thought to be a hermaphrodite (and this theory was written about by Pliny, Plutarch, Claudius Aelianus, and others). This idea, that it could reproduce without losing its virginity, fascinated early Christians, who began to associate the hare with the Virgin Mary. This is why you see hares in illuminated manuscripts and paintings of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child in Northern Europe. Hares are also present in the “three hares” motif found in churches in northwestern Europe, which represent the Holy Trinity (“the three in one, the one in three”).
- Yes, there are some visual similarities in the symbols used by Christians and ancient polytheists. As G.K. Chesterton points out: “We are all revenants; all living Christians are dead pagans walking about”.
- You chose a strange picture do put your message on. The picture is of the Burney Relief, also known as the Queen of the Night relief, which could be either Ereshkigal, Inanna/Ishtar, or Lilitu. There is still a debate going on about it.
- Please try to do more research before you soil a perfectly good picture of a Babylonian artwork.
- The only websites I found where Easter was equated with Ishtar were Yahoo Answers, and some random Christian website called Last Trumpet Ministries.
- So, what was that stuff at the end about hating the truth? If you loved the truth, I would think you would have been a little more thoughtful about the subject.
Can I just add that these sorts of posters (whether they be aimed at Pascha or Nativity) are typically based in Reformation propaganda against the Vatican?
Also, I am so glad that it has been pointed out that there are different types of paganism. Anglo-Saxon paganism was different to Babylonian paganism which was different from Roman paganism which differed from Celtic paganism etc.
Basically these posters are just awful and not factual at all. If non-Christians who spend most of their time slating Christians and Christianity but then celebrate Christian festivals want to believe 16th century propaganda based on falsehoods so they don’t feel like hypocrites then fine. But just don’t sell it to everyone else as though it’s any where near a concrete argument (because as Adam has shown, it isn’t).
While we are trouncing on the laughable ignorance of the bigot who put together this meme, let’s also mention that Constantine did not “Christianize” the Roman Empire. Christianity had spread across the Western and Eastern parts of the Empire before Constantine was even born.
And Constantine published an “Edict of Toleration” which is hardly the same thing as “Christianize.” Even during Constantine’s reign, paganism was alive and well in the Roman Empire and pagan temples and pagan worship continued to operate, with pagan priests still holding on to many privileges accorded to them by the Roman state.
Where did this person study history? Oh, I forgot, the same place where they studied all about Ishtar, pronounced “Easter” LOLOL.