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English and other Germanic languages are the only ones that call the Festival of the Resurrection “Easter”. Everyone else calls it some version of “Pascha,” which comes from the Hebrew word for “Passover.” The holiday was celebrated extremely early in the church’s history, probably around the 2nd century.

The Easter holiday was held in conjunction with the Jewish holiday of Passover. When Christian missionaries entered Saxon lands, they celebrated Easter at about the same time that a pagan celebration occurred for the goddess Eostre, which occurred with enough regularity that people adopted the goddess’s celebration as a term for the season in general. They brought that term into common terminology even though the pagan association diminished over time. Some of these same Saxons then associated the word Easter with the Passover/Resurrection celebration. So, perhaps the common name did originate with a pagan goddess, but that would be the only connection – it would not be an appropriation of the pagan holiday by Christians.


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