or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sunday Morning

This is the third Easter I've been writing this blog, and I still haven't actually done Easter? I'm surprised at myself.

The name comes from an Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility, who naturally enough was celebrated in the springtime; her name has a dozen or so spellings, but it's generally rendered as Eostre or something like it (variants include Ostare, Austron, and Ostern, which, as it turns out, is the modern German name for the holiday). It would appear that the Babylonian goddess Ishtar is unrelated to Eostre: the similarity of spelling and pronunciation is just an accidental convergence.

Other languages take a different tack for naming Easter: most of them use some variant of "Passover", which in Hebrew is "Pesach". The French word is "Pâques", which is strongly reminiscent of the English word "paschal" ("of or referring to Easter"): the name Pascal is descended from this French word. (Remember that the circumflex over the vowel in French often means that an ess was once present but has vanished, making "pasques" the progenitor of "Paqûes".) Likewise in Italian the word is "Pasqua", which leads to the name Pasquale, and in Spanish it's "Pascua" and Pascual.

Since Eostre is the goddess of not only fertility but of the dawn, it makes perfect sense that she gave her name to the East, the direction in which the sun rises, so, yes, Easter and Eastern are related. They didn't have to be, etymology being what it is, but they are.


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