The Supposed Misappropriation of Easter

The entombment of Jesus. Pre-Christian religions are replete with resurrection stories.

When it comes to art, beauty, commerce, music, or money, there is but one principle. Everyone steals:
Perhaps most misinformed theory that rolls around the Internet this time of year is that Easter was originally a celebration of the ancient Near Eastern fertility goddess Ishtar.
This idea is grounded in the shared concept of new life and similar-sounding words Easter/Ishtar. There’s no linguistic connection, however. Ishtar is Akkadian and Easter is likely to be Anglo-Saxon.
Just because words in different languages sound the same doesn’t mean they are related. In Swedish, the word “kiss” means urine.
But the biggest issue for Christians is the claim that Jesus’ resurrection - the faith’s central tenet - might have pagan roots.
Even apart from whether or not Jesus actually rose from the dead, many Christians claim that the very idea is unique.
There are other biblical examples of people being raised from the dead – think of Jesus raising Lazarus. But those people went on to die again. Only Jesus was raised from the dead to live forever.
But there’s a problem: Pre-Christian religions are replete with dying and rising gods.
Dionysius, most commonly thought of as the Greek god of wine, is one such example. He was lured to his death by the Titans, who then boiled and ate him. He was revived by his grandmother, and from his ashes humanity was formed, the Greeks believed.
The problem with this story is that Easter is likely linked to the Celts, and the Celts were the pagans that the Christians stole quite a bit from--not the least of which was their Christmas holiday and the land on which they built their holy sites.

Underwater Easter Bunny


A diver dressed as the Easter Bunny swims among sharks, rays and other species of fish on Thursday in the shipwreck habitat at the South East Asia Aquarium of Resorts World Sentosa. Image via Wong Maye-E/AP.