Easter - Pagan?

So, I have a question about Easter. We’ve all heard people say that Easter is of Pagan origins. But, I was listening to Catholic apologist Steve Ray on Catholic Answers Live today say that Easter is of Pagan origins from the Germans. Steve Ray said the name Easter comes from a Pagan godess named Ēostre (or Ostara)?

However, this conflicts with what I already know from an article on catholic.com. To me this article makes more sense than what Steve Ray said. Here is a quote of the relevant part from an article by James Akin.

"All this is nonsense. Easter is not based on a pagan holiday but on a Jewish one, Passover. Easter originated as the first Sunday following Passover, when Jesus was crucified.

Neither, as some anti-Catholics claim, is the name Easter derived from the pagan goddess Ishtar. As checking the dictionary will reveal, Easter is derived from the Old English word east, which means precisely what it does today. Only a speaker of English or German (where the holiday is called Ostern) could fall for such a claim.

In virtually every other language, the name of Easter is derived from the Jewish word Pesach or “Passover.” Thus in Greek the term for Easter is Pascha; in Latin the term is also Pascha. From there it passed into the Romance languages, and so in Spanish it is Pascua, in Italian Pasqua, in French Paques, and in Portugese Pascoa. It also passed into the non-Romance languages, such as the Germanic languages Dutch, where it is Pasen, and Danish, where it is Paaske."
source: archive.catholic.com/thisrock/1999/9903chap.asp

Like I said what James Akin said makes more sense to me, but I was looking to see if anyone else knew anything about this. Steve Ray kind of threw me for a loop by saying it was of Pagan origin. It sounds like Steve Ray is wrong here but I just wanted to check. Thanks.

I didn’t hear the broadcast, but could it be that he was talking about a lot of the customs associated with it? Eggs, chicks, bunnies, etc.?

In the little town where I lived in Italy (Montereale-Valcellina (PN)), we didn’t practice any of those things. It was my impression that those were more Germanic in origin. Saw lots of flowers…lot’s of candy (because Lent was done with)…but I sure don’t remember any chicks, eggs, or bunnies (well, unless you want to include Kinder-eggs, but that’s a horse of a different color)

Early Christians originally called Easter “Pascha” which was the latinized version of the term "passover, which was a Jewish holiday commemorating the escape from the bondage of Egypt. The term Easter( named after the pagan godess Ishtar), if i’m not mistaken, was never used until around the 18th century, when the english language came about, and with this new term, came obvious pagan customs and traditions, such as colorful eggs, and magic jellybean pooping rabbits. I could be wrong though. Either way, Easter (pascha) has lost its meaning.

Steve Ray, who ever that is, is either an ignorant pseudo-intellectualan idiot who does not know what he is talking about; or from what you relate, is an anti-Catholic bigot who preys on those who know only English.
This is intellectual dishonesty of a high order!

The English language has been around a lot longer than than just the 18th century. Old English dates to about the 5th century and Britain was converted to Christianity by then. The venerable Bede was a British monk that lived in the 7th century for example.

My bad, thanks for correcting me.:DEither way, however, i think the term didn’t come about until the english language came (whenever that is):shrug:

You might need to distinguish people living on the British Isles and the language(s) used there. Modern English (that we would understand) probably dates back to about 1500. Check out Old English at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_English

This is one of the reason you don’t find ancient English Bibles. There was no English as it is a combination of the Danes, Germans, Normans, Latins, Celts, and anybody else that came an went in the English countryside. Each left a mark on the language.

Here is a sample from Beowolf (written between 8-11th century)

What! We of Gare-Danes in yore-days, of thede-kings, did thrum frayne, how those athelings did ellen freme.

which means

Lo! We have heard of majesty of the Spear-Danes, of those nation-kings in the days of yore, and how those noblemen promoted zeal.

I don’t know where the word came from but, even if it came from a pagan source, it doesn’t matter because the church, adapting to different cultures, changed pagan feast days, etc, supplanting them with Christian holy days. If you have been to Rome, you’ll see that many of the churches were built on top of pagan temples to supplant them. The names of the temples are incorporated into the name of the church. For example, Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church. We know Christmas on december 25th supplanted a major pagan feast day and All Saints Day on November 1st was to supplant the pagan feast day of Halloween.

Neither, as some anti-Catholics claim, is the name Easter derived from the pagan goddess Ishtar. As checking the dictionary will reveal, Easter is derived from the Old English word east, which means precisely what it does today. Only a speaker of English or German (where the holiday is called Ostern) could fall for such a claim.http://www.interbankforex.info/g.gif

Well, what you Christians **celebrate **on Easter is defenitely not pagan but your own with some Jewish roots.
But pagans celebrate(d) the spring equinox which occurs roughly at the same time in a solar calendar rather than the lunar one where Easter is located. As a lot of Christian and pagan rites mixed there are some similarities but I cannot see that the content of Christian Easter originated in the pagan Eostrae/Ostara rites at all.

Oh, Ostara! (some pagan German shout when the fires are lit at the equinox :wink: )

I think Jimmy Akin in this case is right… Some of these self proclaimed “apologists” have a lot to be desired and often make big mistakes. I remember a show on the Coming Home Network and the "apologist " said something that Marcus Grodie knew was very inaccurate, if not just plain wrong, Marcus tried to coax him to correct himself because he has probably gotten letter before on the subject, but the “apologist” was completely oblivious. Finally Marcus just looked in the camera and made the correction saying “I know many of you out there will not like the answer so and so just said, so… let me clarify…” LOL

@james224: Not so sure on the Christmas issue. There is evidence the replacing went the other way, i.e., Sol Invictus was instituted to compete with Christmas. I know I’ve seen it online but I am drawing a blank at the moment - - the author was a professor at my undergrad college, but I can’t remember his name!

found it touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=16-10-012-v

There were some fairly early manuscripts of Bible books translated into Old English, especially since many of the bishops (and especially Alfred the Great) were very gung ho on literacy in both Latin and the vernacular. (Alfred had gone to school at one of the Irish schools for monks and other folks needing learning, and had seen Ireland’s success with vernacular literacy.) But of course a great many of these books, which we know used to exist, have fallen victim to time, Henry VIII, and so forth.

wordhord.org/nasb/ has a rather eccentric project going, with both links to most of the historical translations of the Bible into Old English, and with attempts at newly translating into Old English those books which didn’t survive. But honestly, there’s so much historical stuff available that you could keep quite busy with that.

The annual celebration of Jesus’ resurrection is a completely Christian holiday, regardless of the origins of the English word. In fact, one of the earliest controversies in the Church occurred in the second century over the proper day to celebrate Easter. The churches in Asia Minor followed the Jewish calender regardless of whether the day fell on a Sunday or not. They claimed to be following the tradition of the apostle John. Other churches always celebrated it on Sunday. The bishop of Rome felt strongly enough about it to actually excommunicate those Asian churches that didn’t celebrate Easter on Sunday. He was criticized by Irenaeus and other bishops for acting too harshly and not promoting the peace of the Church. Of course, eventually all the catholic churches did adopt our way of celebrating Easter exclusively on Sunday.

Note that this controversy happened a couple of centuries before Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire. Its definitely not a pagan holiday.

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