Why is Easter called Easter?


Why is Easter called “Easter”?

Here is what I learned:

“In almost every language except English, the name for this annual memorial of the resurrection is some form of the word “Passover” (for example, Pasch, from the Hebrew Peasch, “Passover”).  When Christianity arrived in the North countries, it’s springtime celebration of the resurrection received a new name from the Teutonic people, a name used today by English-speaking people: Easter.” (Greg Dues, Catholic Customs & Traditions, p. 116).

White Vestments

The debate is if Easter comes from the name of an Anglo-Saxon spring goddess, Eostre vs. the misunderstanding of a Latin phrase for Easter Week, “week ‘in white vestments’ (in albis [see image of Pope in White Vestments]), thinking it was the plural of alba in the Latin idiom for ‘dawn.’  This was translated in Old High German as eostarun.” (p. 116). Regardless of the reason for the title Easter, “…the symbolism remains: Christ is the sun that rises at dawn–in the east.” (p. 116)

It is doubtful Easter was named after the “goddess” Eostre because some scholars believe she was not a real goddess in Anglo-Saxon folklore, and little is known about how or if this name would have influenced the naming of a Christian Holiday.

It is more likely the Latin and German roots had influence.

Does this even matter? Not really.  If someone were to ask the question of why we call this holiday Easter, this is a great opportunity to talk about The Passion Week (Palm Sunday, The Last Supper, Good Friday, Jesus trial, death, burial, and Resurrection Sunday).  In other words, what an opportunity to talk about the gospel of Jesus.




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