Monday, March 26, 2018

Word of the Week - Easter

I've done this Word of the Week before, but it was six years ago, so I figured a revisit wouldn't be begrudged by anyone. ;-)

When Anglo-Saxon Christians first started celebrating the Mass of Christ's Resurrection, they gave it the name Easter, after Eastre, the goddess of fertility and spring, whose holiday was likely the vernal equinox. Have you ever looked up Eastre? She was a magician-goddess, and one of her tricks was to turn a chicken into a rabbit...but it still laid eggs. This, friends, is where we get the Easter Bunny bringing eggs for our baskets. Not exactly something that has to do with why we're celebrating the day as Christians...

Now, all neighboring languages use a word derived from Latin pasche, or passover, for the holiday. (Which makes a whole lot more sense. I really wish English did this too!)

Easter eggs are attested from 1824 (though let it be noted that eggs are part of the Passover feast too, so there's legitimate reason to include them in Resurrection celebrations). The Easter Bunny is from 1909. And as a matter of fact, Easter Island is so named because the discoverer did so on Easter Monday.

The voice of the empty tomb - Rev. Alan Rudnick
The Empty Tomb - Pinterest
Although Christianity has a long history of "taking over" pagan holidays and traditions and using them to get new converts to observe Christianity instead, I have to say I don't like the English word. I'd never paused to consider it until my piano teacher back in the day refused to use the word "Easter" and instead called it "Resurrection Day." (Of which I fully approve!) She would even re-title songs for our recitals when necessary. One year I was playing "Easter Song" on the organ, and it became "Resurrection Song."

This is something I try to do in my speech, though I do frequently slip and old habits take over. But I've at least trained my kids to correct me. 😉 So around here, we'll be celebrating Resurrection Day this Sunday--with a sunrise service, a breakfast at church, and then visiting a local nursing home before the family gathers for a scavenger hunt and dinner.

How do you celebrate the resurrection of our Lord?


  1. I try to always use Resurrection Day, too! I don't always succeed.

  2. I am sure when I read this post six years ago (and I am fairly confident I did), I was amazed at the information on Eastre. I still am. I use both terms, and have little to no traditions associated with the holiday, other than a morning service. Kinda wish I did, but don't know what to start. Interesting post, as usual :) Thanks! 🌸

  3. After researching the word Easter many years ago, we started saying Resurrection Day. We never gave our children baskets full of candy and toys. I mean, really. They just got those things at Christmas. Well, minus the basket. ;-)

  4. We might do an Easter egg hunt on Saturday, but it is in no way related to our Resurrection Day traditions. We used to have a sunrise service, but won’t be doing that this year since we have moved to the Dominican Republic and they don’t do early! Last year, our children’s choir sang Up From the Grave He Arose!! LOVE that song!!