Origins of ordinary things: Easter

Easter is an important holiday to people who subscribe to Christianity. It is a time when they celebrate the gift of life after death that was granted to them by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, their saviour.

Different sources and accounts provide divergent views on the origin of Easter. Some suggest that Easter was obtained from the Greek and Latin word Pascha which means Passover. According to History, a platform that provides knowledge on past events, the relationship between Easter and Passover is that Jesus was crucified when he went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

Passover is an eight-day Jewish festival that is held in commemoration of the exodus of ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

Heather McDougall, a writer for The Guardian a media house has a different view on the origin of Easter. In her article “The pagan roots of Easter,” McDougall says that that the secular culture brought about the existence of Easter. She asserts that there are many ancient myths about death and resurrection and that Jesus Christ is not the only one who is said to have died and resurrected.

For example, a myth is told of the Sumerian goddess Inanna, or Ishtar who was hung naked on a stake, and then resurrected and descended to the underworld. Another myth is that of Dionysus, a child considered divine who died and was resurrected by his grandmother and later on, Dionysus brought his mother, Semele back to life.

In his point of view expressed in the article “What Are the Real Origins of Easter?”, Jerod Aust, a writer and church minister agrees with McDougall. He says that the celebration of Easter is not Biblical. Moreover, some sources that it used to be a pagan festival that originated from the worship of other gods.

Aust says that some there are pegan beliefs which claim that Easter existed even before the birth of Christ. The argument is that the word Easter is related to Eostre, an ancient European name for a goddess worshipped by the Babylonians as Astarte or Ishtar, goddess of fertility.

But how did a pagan celebration such as Easter come to be an important celebration in Christianity? British historian Sir James Frazer deduced that it was through the compromise the Christian church made to accommodate competing pagan religions.

Frazer says that the compromise was made because at the time when Christianity was new, it had inflexible and had rigid principles. Those principles were bent to make the religion appealing. This was done with the backing of Roman religious authorities.

Such compromises were part of the reasons why Christians were persecuted in the early days of the church. Some of them refused to compromise. To this day, because of the pagan origin of Easter, some Christian leaders and followers condemn its celebration.

Other Christians say that the origin of Easter does not matter. For instance, in answering a question about the origins of Easter, Got Questions? a platform that provides answers to Christian-related questions says that what is important is the reason for our celebration. The reason, the answer says, is that Christ is alive, making it possible for believers to have eternal life.