In Germany, we enjoy a long weekend on Easter, because both Good Friday and Easter Monday are holidays here – which means no work! And I for one have been in need of some off time, let me tell you…
But anyway, even if it is all play this weekend, here’s a little language lesson for you: Do you know where the word “Easter” comes from? In case you don’t, here’s the answer, courtesy of The English Language:
Perhaps surprisingly the origin of Easter is not biblical.
The word is not in the New Testament. Nor does it feature in most translations of the Bible into vernacular languages.
- Romance languages directly link Easter to the Jewish feast of Passover. Pâques in French covers both Easter and Passover.
- There is often more linguistic emphasis on the idea of Holy Week as in Semana Santa in Spanish)
So where did the word Easter come from?
Scholars agree that the word Easter has pre-Christian roots. Beyond that there is little consensus.
The most popular theory is reflected in the entry for Easter in the Canadian Oxford Dictionary:
Old English ēastre, after a Germanic goddess Eostre; related to Old High German ōstarūn Easter, Old Norse austr to the , Old Slavonic ustru like summer.
According to this explanation, the Old English word eastre came Eostre, “a goddess associated with spring.”
elaboration is found in a work written in AD 725 by Saint Bede, an
English monk and historian. According to Bede, April was called Eosturmonath (“Easter-month”) because in pagan times the month was dedicated to Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring.
Ostara (1884) by Johannes Gehrts
When Christian beliefs spread throughout England, says Bede, Easter-month lent its name to the new April festival.
Another theory is that Eostre was
simply the Anglo-Saxon word for spring festivals. Linguists trace this
word to roots thousands of years old meaning “shine” and “dawn.” Spring
is a season of lengthening days and increased light. It would make sense
for early peoples to give their spring festivals a name that celebrated
the rising sun. Source
Regardless of where the word comes from though, or how many days you get to have off, the reason we celebrate it is because Christ is risen – He is indeed risen!
So have a Happy Easter!