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How Easter Got its Name


Traditional:

O.E. Eastre (Northumbrian Eostre), from P.Gmc. *Austron, a goddess of fertility and sunrise whose feast was celebrated at the spring equinox, from *austra-, from PIE *aus- “to shine” (especially of the dawn). Bede says Anglo-Saxon Christians adopted her name and many of the celebratory practices for their Mass of Christ’s resurrection. Ultimately related to east. Almost all neighboring languages use a variant of L. Pasche to name this holiday. Easter Island so called because it was discovered by Europeans on Easter Sunday, 1722.

Alternative:

Well, the heck with Bede! What kind of a name is that for a guy anyway?

With the advent of Christianity to the British Isles, an enterprising Pagan baker (or maybe Jewish? His name is lost to history) decided to capitalize on the observation of the resurrection by creating something special for his Christian customers. He named his creation “Yeaster’s Bread,” an allusion to the traditional observation: “He is Risen.” The rest is Yeastory.

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