English "Easter" is Astarte?

  • fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    "Easter" has no connection with Ishtar / Astarte / Athtar. It does have something to do with "East".

    I take the liberty of pasting this longish quotation from the OED:

    Etymology: Cognate with Old Dutch ōster- (in ōstermānōth April, lit. ‘Easter-month’), Old Saxon ōstar- (in ōstarfrisking paschal lamb; Middle Low German ōsteren , ōstern , plural), Old High German ōstara (usually in plural ōstarūn ; Middle High German ōster (usually in plural ōstern ), German Ostern , singular and (now chiefly regional) plural), probably < the same Germanic base as east adv. (and hence ultimately cognate with Sanskrit uṣas , Avestan ušah- , ancient Greek (Ionic and Epic) ἠώς , (Attic) ἕως , classical Latin aurōra , all in sense ‘dawn’). For alternative (and less likely) etymologies see the references cited below. It is noteworthy that among the Germanic languages the word (as the name for Easter) is restricted to English and German; in other Germanic languages, as indeed in most European languages, the usual word for Easter is derived from the corresponding word for the Jewish Passover; compare pasch n.

    Bede ( De Temporum Ratione 15. 9: see quot. below) derives the word < Eostre (a Northumbrian spelling; also Eastre in a variant reading), according to him, the name of a goddess whose festival was celebrated by the pagan Anglo-Saxons around the time of the vernal equinox (presumably in origin a goddess of the dawn, as the name is to be derived from the same Germanic base as east adv.: see above). This explanation is not confirmed by any other source, and the goddess has been suspected by some scholars to be an invention of Bede's. However, it seems unlikely that Bede would have invented a fictitious pagan festival in order to account for a Christian one. For further discussion and alternative derivations see D. H. Green Lang. & Hist. Early Germanic World (1998) 351–3, J. Udolph & K. Schäferdieck in J. Hoops's Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde (ed. 2, 2003) XXII. 331–8, and for a parallel development compare yule n. Bede's etymology comes in a passage explaining the origin of the Old English names of the months:

    a
    735 Bede De Temporum Ratione xv, Eostur-monath, qui nunc paschalis mensis interpretatur, quondam a dea illorum quae Eostre vocabatur, et cui in illo festa celebrabant, nomen habuit, a cujus nomine nunc paschale tempus cognominant, consueto antiquae observationis vocabulo gaudia novae solemnitatis vocantes.

    Compare Old English Ēastermōnað April, cognate with or formed similarly to Old Dutch ōstermānōth (in a translation from German), Old High German ōstarmānōd (Middle High German ōstermānōt , German Ostermonat , now archaic) < the Germanic base of Easter n.1 + the Germanic base of month n.1
     

    CyrusSH

    Banned
    Persian - Iran
    It is easy to say that Easter is similar to "east", so it relates to this word, let's compare it to Avestan Aša: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asha

    1. Nowruz (Persian New Year: March 21/22), the holiest of all Zoroastrian festivals is dedicated to Aša.
    2. The second month of the year (April) is dedicated to Aša, named Aša Višta.
    3. Seed of Aša (World egg), the whole good creation of Mazda, more info: http://www.avesta.org/other/atash2.pdf

    It is also interesting to read about Easter egg/Nowruz egg: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_egg#Parallels_in_other_faiths
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    I could write a long treatise about why ušah- and aṣ̌a- have no connection with each other, but would anyone be interested?
     

    CyrusSH

    Banned
    Persian - Iran
    I could write a long treatise about why ušah- and aṣ̌a- have no connection with each other, but would anyone be interested?
    What do you mean? Do you want to say Persian Nowruz which actually means "new day" relates to Avestan ušah (dawn), not aṣ̌a?
     

    CyrusSH

    Banned
    Persian - Iran
    This thread is about "Easter". If you want to discuss Nawruz you need to open a new thread.
    Easter can be both a Germanic word with the meaning of "dawn" and a Jewish festival with a relation to a non-Germanic word but if you believe it also relates to an Indo-European festival then you should compare it another similar Indo-European festival.
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Greetings
    Easter can be both a Germanic word...
    It is.
    ...and a Jewish festival with a relation to a non-Germanic word
    It is not a Jewish festival, nor ever has been.
    if you believe it also relates to an Indo-European festival then you should compare it another similar Indo-European festival
    This is literally meaningless. fdb has been at pains to explain (#3) the etymology of Easter, which has nothing to do with any Jewish or other middle-eastern divinites or festivals.
    Historically and theologically, of course, the Christian Easter is intimately associated with the Jewish Passover. And both, as it happens, nearly coincide in the northern hemisphere with the spring equinox.
    But that has absolutely nothing to do with etymology.
    Σ
     
    Last edited:

    rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    But that has absolutely nothing to do with etymology.
    If not "etymology", maybe "mythology"?
    I mean, there is ancient feast Spring-Equinox, Jews started to follow lunar calendar and their equinox moved to full-moon day and became as Pascal to declare that their God is stronger than Egyptian Hathor(Babylonian Ishtar, Canaanian Astarte). Later, Christians adopted Jewish holiday but moved it to Sunday-Pascal always to declare that Christian god is stronger than Jewish. Later, in Middle Ages, when Christianity was divided into two: Catholics and Orthodox, Orthodox has their own calendar to differ from Catholics. Now we have three Easter holidays: Jewish, Catholic and Orthodox.

    But it doesn't solve the etymology problem, is English Easter = Ishtar?
     

    CyrusSH

    Banned
    Persian - Iran
    Germanic is not a single isolated culture with absolutely no relation to other cultures, Easter is not just a word but the name of a festival, if you believe it is a pure Germanic festival then you shouldn't use Indo-European etymology to prove it, fdb compared it to the Indo-European Goddess of the Dawn (Greek Eos: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eos , Indian Ushas: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ushas , ...), is it her festival? Or was it originally her festival?
     

    CyrusSH

    Banned
    Persian - Iran
    As you read here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hausos The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European new year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).
     

    jaeger1946

    New Member
    English-US
    I came very late to this discussion so my apologies. I think we all understand now that Easter comes from a word that, at its root, means East, perhaps related to the PIE root *aus- which means to shine. I think fdb has provided valuable info on that. I wonder if anyone knows the etymology of Ishtar or any of its alternates. I understand that these words are of Semitic origin. I understand that there is no known connection between Semitic languages and IE languages (though I do find some curious similarities as in abba and the Hebrew numbers six and seven). Is it not possible that the cult was so widespread in that part of the world that there was some cross-contamination?
     

    jaeger1946

    New Member
    English-US
    I would put it a bit differently;

    *ster or *ister (PIE for star) gives us

    Greek aster (der. astron) Latin stella Hittite shittar Sanskrit taras (pl.) even modern Hindi has the word sitaara for star (sound familiar?) and Venus is the morning star

    The usual question seems to be did PIE "borrow" that root word for star from the Akkadian word for Venus istar.

    The famous Carl Darling Buck (now deceased) thinks that understanding is no longer valid to link star and easter with Ishtar given the advances in modern linguistics. When Buck speaks, who am I to argue? But, since fertility statues seem to have been around since very ancient times, let me speculate.

    Fact, the Sumerian empire existed before the rise of Akkad. Fact, they spoke their own language. Fact, so far, no one knows if Sumerian is related to any other known language. Fact, Akkad finally displaced Sumer yet the Akkadians seemed to speak both their own Semitic language and Sumerian as well for a number of years. Speculation, is it possible that the IE root and the Semitic Akkadian root stemmed from a common source? Again, Buck does not think so. He believed that the PIE root is related to a root word that means to burn. *ister or *ster seems to have the basic meaning of ember. Naturally, all of this is speculative, Buck's ideas included. I do understand that two languages can have words with both similar meanings and similar sounds just by coincidence. Yet.........
     

    desi4life

    Senior Member
    English
    It's been mentioned in other threads that star is not related to Ishtar, and of course Easter is not related to either word as indicated in this thread already.

    Middle Persian star, stārag, New Persian sitāra are Indo-European cognates of Eng. star, Greek aster, Latin stella etc. These have nothing to do with Ishtar or Astarte.
    The old surmise that star could an Akkadian loan doesn't have much credibility any more. It is generally accepted that it is a genuine IE word.
     

    jaeger1946

    New Member
    English-US
    Thanks to fdb regarding the modern Hindi word. I had noted tara as the Sanskrit word though I gave its plural form. I did not know that the Hindi word was loan word but Persian too is an IE language. I mentioned that *ster being a loan word from Akkadian was not accepted by Carl Buck and others. I even offered the basis of thei reasoning. That was not the point of my speculation. My speculation was that perhaps both Akkadian or PIE took it from Sumerian or perhaps Sumerian from an even older language. I did state that it was merely speculation. If the derivation of the word star ultimately is related to a PIE word that is related to a word that means to burn, then that pretty much rules out my speculation. I just want to point out one thing, however. Everything involving PIE is speculation, hence the asterisk. But I do admit that speculation is based on far more evidence than mine.
     

    rushalaim

    Senior Member
    русский
    The usual question seems to be did PIE "borrow" that root word for star from the Akkadian word for Venus istar.
    May Pentateuch's (Deuteronomy 7:13) "flock" [ashtarat] tie with Egyptian cow head Hathor-goddess? Cattle gives newborns in spring. The word "carnival" before spring beginning means "no meat". Babylonian name "Esther" means "star"
     

    aruniyan

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Easter i think can be related with the words for month, Chaitra(Sanskrit), Chithirai(Tamil) comes around April.
    also which can be related with root for "scattered, spread out" *sterə.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Is it not possible that the cult was so widespread in that part of the world that there was some cross-contamination?
    That is the main reason why fanciful speculation that reach half accross the globe are not really plausible. Bear in mind that Easter/Ostern is a word that exists only in English and German and nowhere else. It must have originated in a geographically compact area in early West Germanic, i.e. before the Anglo-Saxon migration to Britain but after the break up of the Common Germanic dialect continuum, i.e. in Imperial Roman times.

    This speaks for a rather mundane local etymology in what is now the Western part of Germany. If it had travelled so far to up to the North Sea shore it should have left some traces anywhere but there is nothing. The elephant in the room remains the relation to East/Osten and some difficulties in deriving the exact relation (Bede's Germanic godess or some loan translation or what ever) should not open the flood gates to more and more extravagant fantasies, as we can see in the further development of this thread.
     

    Malki92

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    "Easter" has no connection with Ishtar / Astarte / Athtar. It does have something to do with "East".

    I take the liberty of pasting this longish quotation from the OED:

    Etymology: Cognate with Old Dutch ōster- (in ōstermānōth April, lit. ‘Easter-month’), Old Saxon ōstar- (in ōstarfrisking paschal lamb; Middle Low German ōsteren , ōstern , plural), Old High German ōstara (usually in plural ōstarūn ; Middle High German ōster (usually in plural ōstern ), German Ostern , singular and (now chiefly regional) plural), probably < the same Germanic base as east adv. (and hence ultimately cognate with Sanskrit uṣas , Avestan ušah- , ancient Greek (Ionic and Epic) ἠώς , (Attic) ἕως , classical Latin aurōra , all in sense ‘dawn’). For alternative (and less likely) etymologies see the references cited below. It is noteworthy that among the Germanic languages the word (as the name for Easter) is restricted to English and German; in other Germanic languages, as indeed in most European languages, the usual word for Easter is derived from the corresponding word for the Jewish Passover; compare pasch n.

    Bede ( De Temporum Ratione 15. 9: see quot. below) derives the word < Eostre (a Northumbrian spelling; also Eastre in a variant reading), according to him, the name of a goddess whose festival was celebrated by the pagan Anglo-Saxons around the time of the vernal equinox (presumably in origin a goddess of the dawn, as the name is to be derived from the same Germanic base as east adv.: see above). This explanation is not confirmed by any other source, and the goddess has been suspected by some scholars to be an invention of Bede's. However, it seems unlikely that Bede would have invented a fictitious pagan festival in order to account for a Christian one. For further discussion and alternative derivations see D. H. Green Lang. & Hist. Early Germanic World (1998) 351–3, J. Udolph & K. Schäferdieck in J. Hoops's Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde (ed. 2, 2003) XXII. 331–8, and for a parallel development compare yule n. Bede's etymology comes in a passage explaining the origin of the Old English names of the months:

    a
    735 Bede De Temporum Ratione xv, Eostur-monath, qui nunc paschalis mensis interpretatur, quondam a dea illorum quae Eostre vocabatur, et cui in illo festa celebrabant, nomen habuit, a cujus nomine nunc paschale tempus cognominant, consueto antiquae observationis vocabulo gaudia novae solemnitatis vocantes.

    Compare Old English Ēastermōnað April, cognate with or formed similarly to Old Dutch ōstermānōth (in a translation from German), Old High German ōstarmānōd (Middle High German ōstermānōt , German Ostermonat , now archaic) < the Germanic base of Easter n.1 + the Germanic base of month n.1
    Just to be clear, is this in essence stating that because the holiday occurred during the month of Eosturmonath that it adopted this name and was eventually shortened to German Ostern which resulted in English Easter?
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Just to be clear, is this in essence stating that because the holiday occurred during the month of Eosturmonath that it adopted this name and was eventually shortened to German Ostern which resulted in English Easter?
    Not exactly. But the etymology of the German and English words are related to the fact that Easter is in spring; one way or another. See my post an this related thread:
    Easter is a Germanic word meaning dawn and is related to the name of the cardinal direction East. So far there is general scholarly consensus.

    But why it this word is used to translate Latin Pascha is another story. The old theory is that it was the name of an unknown Germanic spring feast, where an otherwise unknown goddess of the dawn (with spring being the "dawn" of the year). This theory is still found in some dictionaries, e.g. in Wiktionary, but is generally rejected now.

    The alternative theory is that it is a translation of early Frankish Church Latin albae paschales for the Easter week, which refers the white (=alba) dresses in which the newborns where baptized at Easter, mistaking alba as meaning dawn, a Vulgar Latin meaning from which French aube=dawn is derived.
    and see also my #24 above.
     
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