Easter ... why not Pesah / Pesach [פסח]?

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,374
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Today is Easter and I'm wondering about an oddity: Jesus was celebrating the Pesach, the Jewish Easter and in that days he left to Christians the duty to commemorate his sacrifice by means of bread and wine.

Starting from this context in several main languages the word for Easter comes from the word indicating the Jewish Pesach.

For example:

Italian: Pasqua
French: Pâques
Spanish: Pascua
Portuguese: Páscoa
Rumeno: Paşti


but Anglo-Saxon languages ...

German: Ostern
English: Easter


Is there a cultural / historical explanation?
 

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
I've read that 'Easter' is derived from Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess.
 

veka

Ad Honorem
Dec 2008
2,559
Finland
Oxford English Dictionary says this about the etymology of easter:

OE. éastre wk. fem. = OHG. ôstara; more freq. in plural éastron, corresponding to OHG. ôstoron (MHG., mod.G. ostern pl.); the strong forms occas. appearing seem to have been derived from the combining form éastor-. Bæda Temp. Rat. xv. derives the word from Eostre (Northumb. spelling of Éastre), the name of a goddess whose festival was celebrated at the vernal equinox; her name :)—OTeut. *austrôn- cogn. w. Skr. usrā dawn; see east) shows that she was originally the dawn-goddess.
 

AlpinLuke

Forum Staff
Oct 2011
27,374
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Interesting.

So we've got a kind of cultural pollution in religious context. The choice remains anyway particular: to use a term with a quite clear pagan origin or linkage to define a main Christian celebration with a direct connection with the Jewish Pesach.

It would be something similar if in Italy we would call Christmas not Christmas, but Saturnmas.

Of course I'm not criticizing, I'm pointing out something which is catching my curiosity.
 

Sankari

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
3,340
6th Century Constantinople
I've read that 'Easter' is derived from Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess.
There is no evidence for this. Bede is the only source for the claim that the name 'Easter' has pagan origins, but historians have been unable to locate any independent proof of his claim.

The simplest explanation is that British Christians started referring to Pascha as 'Easter' because this corresponded to the local name of the month in which it was celebrated.

In other parts of the world, Pascha kept its original name. This disproves the alleged link between a pagan 'Easter' and the origins of the festival.
 
Apr 2011
782
In other parts of the world, Pascha kept its original name. This disproves the alleged link between a pagan 'Easter' and the origins of the festival.
Among Greeks it is called Pascha and I found it very interesting to read in the OP that the word is similar in the Romance languages. The celebration is directly derived from the Hebrew Pesach and it was initially celebrated by the early Christians based on the Jewish calendar. This was natural since at the time Christianity was or had recently been a branch of Judaism.
 

Sankari

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
3,340
6th Century Constantinople
Among Greeks it is called Pascha and I found it very interesting to read in the OP that the word is similar in the Romance languages. The celebration is directly derived from the Hebrew Pesach and it was initially celebrated by the early Christians based on the Jewish calendar. This was natural since at the time Christianity was or had recently been a branch of Judaism.
Very true.

:)