Easter Day

Want to have some fun? Do the following Google search: <easter pagan?>. I dare you! You’ll find some weird stuff out there. I think the same guys writing about this also wrote the stuff about 9/11 being an inside job and that President Obama and presidential hopeful Mitt Romney are not really citizens. When it comes to Easter, though, they are writing about you, about us, because we are pausing to remember in a very pointed way the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, a celebration that they regard as having pagan roots. But is that the case?

Our word “Easter” is old English and may come to us from the Germans who named the month of April Eosturmonath. Obviously it is something that relates closely to the month of April. A lot depends upon what Eosturmonath actually means. The Venerable Bebe (673-735) suggested that it was a month named after the goddess Eostre. Hence the implication that this is actually a pagan holiday. The problem is that this goddess is nowhere else attested. Further, none of the other months are named after gods or goddesses. In fact, they are far more earth bound. Solmonath (roughly February), for example, meant “Mud-Month” because that’s when there was a lot of rain and Blotmonath (roughly November) meant “Blood Month” because that is when the animals were slaughtered. In that vein, it has been suggested that Eosturmonath (roughly April) simply meant “the month of opening” or “the month of beginnings” because of its relationship to spring. If you have ever been in the country or on a farm or ranch during the spring everything you see is teeming with life. You see the men working late nights. You see the animals giving birth. You see rabbits everywhere! You see plants and flowers bursting forth from the ground. You see new life.

Another suggestion is that “Easter” found its way into our vocabulary from the Old High German eostrarum meaning “dawn.” Some have suggested this came from the Latin phrase in albis meaning “in white.”

Whatever the case, we celebrate Easter because of Christ’s victory. To suggest that the celebration is tainted because of a “pagan name” is like suggesting that you are a pagan worshiper because you call the fourth day of the week, “Wednesday” which is from the Anglo Saxon, “Woden’s day.”

A better way forward is to smile at the devil and say, “Happy Easter” because Jesus has won the victory over him and death and sin.

(Please note: the bulk of the information presented here came from a very good Christianity Today article by Anthony McRoy, “Was Easter Borrowed from a Pagan Holiday?”)

Any thoughts?