The Christian feast of 'easter' is based on the ancient Yewish religious feast (their main one), is widely spread and was linked to remember the 'Passion of Christ'. Recall that 'Christianity' started as a Yewish cult that claimed Jesus Christ was the so-called 'Messiah' from Yewish theology/myth.

In many countries, this feast is etymologically close to 'Passion' (From Pas-ch-o, the Greek word for 'suffering' ), i.e. Pasen in Dutch (also German? Is probably close)

However, the etymological source of 'easter' seems unrelated! Is this because it refered to another (likely pagan) religious custom? If so, what is that custom?

Otherwise, what is the etymological origin of 'easter'? What is the 'original' easter myth?

  • Greek Pascha is borrowed from Hebrew Pesach. Neither has anything to do with "passion" (which is borrowed from Latin).
    – fdb
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 17:53

2 Answers 2


"Ostern" the german word for Easter actually has the same etymology as the english term (citing the German wiki page):

"Das neuhochdeutsche Ostern und das englische Easter haben die gleiche sprachliche Wurzel, zu deren Etymologie es verschiedene Lösungsansätze gibt. Das Herkunftswörterbuch des Duden leitet das Wort vom altgermanischen Austrō > Ausro „Morgenröte“ ab, das eventuell ein germanisches Frühlingsfest bezeichnete und sich im Altenglischen zu Ēostre, Ēastre, im Althochdeutschen zu ōst(a)ra, Plural ōstarun fortbildete. Der Wortstamm ist mit dem altgriechischen Namen der vergöttlichten Morgenröte Ēōs und dem lateinischen aurora „Morgenröte“ verwandt, die ihrerseits weitere Sprachen beeinflusst haben. Die zugrunde liegende indogermanische Wurzel ist das Substantiv *h₂au̯s-os „Morgenröte“, abgeleitet von einer indogermanischen Verbalwurzel *h₂u̯es- „(morgens) hell werden“[6] oder *h₂au̯s- „(aus dem Wasser) schöpfen, Feuer holen“."

One possible origin is the germanic word "Austrō", related to and meaning aurora. Another possible origin is an acient germanic feast in spring, named "Ēostre" or "Ēastre" in old English, which is said to be named after the Greek goddess of aurora Eos.

The New 'High German' Easter and the English Easter have the same linguistic root, but with etymology there are different approaches. The dictionary from Duden derives the word from the Old Germanic Austrō > Ausro "dawn", which eventually designated a Germanic spring festival and Ēostre in Old English, Ēastre, in the Old High German ōst (a) ra, Plural ōstarun. The root word is related to the ancient Greek name of the divinized dawn: Ēōs and the Latin aurora "dawn", which in turn have influenced other languages. The underlying Indo-European root is the noun * h₂au̯s-os "dawn", derived from an Indo-European verbal root * h₂u̯es- "be bright in the morning" or * h₂au̯s- "(from the water) draw, get a fire.
SOURCE: Google Translate (mildly edited)

  • Might want to add an English translation for the German. Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 15:37
  • 1
    Nice answer. You might also be interested in Is Ostara related to Astraea?
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 21:25
  • Ah, so it was originally the feast of 'radiant dawn', of the coming Spring. That sounds plausible, nature worship is common and often occuring in paganism. Most 'egg searching' and 'easter bunnies' are heavily related to Spring (although the eggs are also give Christian meaning: mythology.stackexchange.com/questions/4593/…) Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 23:10
  • I have accepted this answer, as it is most likely the true origin of the name. The connection with Ishtar is curious, but very likely to be apocryphal at best. Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 7:19
  • Thank you for adding the translation. I had only picked the relevant parts.
    – Alex2006
    Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 15:54

Many have said that it comes from the goddess Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. I had actually thought that Easter came directly from worship from her, because etymologically speaking, it doesn't seem too far off.

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But it seems that the goddess Ēostre (or Ostara), the Germanic goddess, is the one that is directly linked to the Easter festival.

enter image description here

In regards to the myth/custom question, here's a quote from Jacob Grimm:

Ostara, Eástre seems therefore to have been the divinity of the radiant dawn, of upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing, whose meaning could be easily adapted by the resurrection-day of the Christian's God. Bonfires were lighted at Easter and according to popular belief of long standing, the moment the sun rises on Easter Sunday morning, he gives three joyful leaps, he dances for joy ... Water drawn on the Easter morning is, like that at Christmas, holy and healing ... here also heathen notions seems to have grafted themselves on great Christian festivals. Maidens clothed in white, who at Easter, at the season of returning spring, show themselves in clefts of the rock and on mountains, are suggestive of the ancient goddess.

I think it's safe to say that Easter has pagan origins.

  • 1
    Nice answer. You will definitely find this article interesting: Astraea: Star Goddess of the Golden Age, who is sometimes accounted as the daughter of Eos. (I'm personally wondering if the names have a common Indo-European root because of the similar phonology.)
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 21:18
  • 1
    Are there any myths or tales linking the goddess Ishtar to Easter? (i.e. 'curious similarities' or such). While interesting, this sounds rather apocryphal to me, so it is unlikely that I should accept this. Still nice answer, though Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 23:05
  • 1
    @Discretelizard there's a quote at the end of this article that explains the link between Ishtar and Easter. However, I have to be honest, I question the veracity of the article itself, which also makes it seem apocryphal to me as well. lovetruthsite.wordpress.com/2017/04/16/happy-ishtar/…
    – K Johnson
    Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 2:23
  • 1
    Ishatar has nothing to do with Easter.
    – fdb
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 17:54
  • @fdb A simple google search will show otherwise. At least it has been speculated. Besides, we didn't live in those times. Who are we to say that Ishtar didn't influence Ostara, which then led to Easter? Cultures are known to borrow from others. So we cannot know for sure.
    – K Johnson
    Commented Apr 6, 2018 at 0:21

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