Sybil asked about the
word Easter, wondering if the liturgical feast received that name because the
events narrated in the New Testament took place in the Mideast rather than in
the West. In answer, I’m going to reprint something that appeared here in 2007.
- Ancient Babylonians and Syrians worshipped
the goddess Ishtar.
- Among Semitic worshippers, the same goddess
was called Astarte.
- When her cult spread to Europe, her name
evolved into Ostara.
- The name came into Anglo-Saxon as Eastre.
Her feast occurred during the vernal equinox, and since she was a fertility
goddess, prolific symbols such as rabbits and eggs were part of the trappings.
missionaries incorporated some of the features into their celebration of the
Resurrection. Their formula for the date of Easter has been passed along for
centuries: the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.
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