Now this is epic!
One meme catching the attention of many social media users addresses common pagan myths about Easter.
The meme below corrects a myth saying Easter originated from the the pagan goddess Ishtar.
Before explaining it in-depth, here’s the meme debunking the myth:
The meme’s original words said this:
“This is Ishtar, pronounced, ‘Easter.’ Easter was the original celebration of Ishtar, the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex.
“Her symbols, (like the egg and the bunny), were and still are fertility and sex symbols (or did you think eggs and bunnies had to do with the resurrection?)
“After Constantine decided to Christianize the empire, Easter was changed to represent Easter. But at its roots, Easter (which is how you pronounce Ishtar) is all about celebrating fertility and sex.”
Here’s the meme’s correction (as the picture above shows):
“This is Ishtar. Pronounced ‘ish-tar.’ Easter has nothing to do with Ishtar, the Assyrian Babylonian goddess of warfare and sex.
“Her symbols, like the lion and the star, were probably not fertility and sex symbols. After Constantine decided to Christianize the Empire, Ishtar remained unrelated to Easter.
“But at its roots, Easter, (which is not how you pronounce Ishtar) is still not Mesopotamian.”
Why this corrected meme destroys the myth
As we know, Christians celebrate Easter by remembering Jesus’ resurrection from the dead after his crucifixion. He sacrificed his body through a horrible and excruciating death, saving us from our sins.
According to the Britannica Encyclopedia, Ishtar is a pagan figure of the “Mesopotamian religion.” She is the “goddess of war and sexual love, and “was often pictured with the lion, whose roar resembled thunder.”
While Ishtar was known as a fertility figure, Britannica explains that “she evolved into a more complex character, surrounded in myth by death and disaster.” Along with several other gods, her “symbol is a star,” and she was the “protectress of prostitutes and the patroness of the alehouse.”
Where does the word ‘Easter’ actually come from?
Ryan Scheel of The Catholic Talk show says that social media forums claim “Easter is based on pagan traditions, and the word Easter comes from the god Ishtar. That’s junk. That’s not real.
“[The author] of Grimm’s fairy tales started that in the 1830s. He said, ‘I think that the word Easter and those traditions come from Ishtar and from the Germanic goddess Ēostre.'”
Scheel continues, “This doesn’t take linguistics into account. In almost every other language, it’s Pascha…only in English and German is it ‘Easter.’ That’s because the month that Easter happened in was called Ēostre, after this goddess.
“That’s like saying, ‘Anything that happens on Thursday is actually a pagan tradition for Thor.’ It’s just a name. So that’s where the word ‘Easter’ comes from. But it’s only in English. Every other language is ‘Pascha.'”
Easter eggs and bunnies actually have Catholic origins.
“If you look at early medieval art, there are bunnies and rabbits everywhere,” Scheel explains. “People ask why there are so many bunnies and rabbits in medieval art, especially surrounding Our Lady.
“So many times, you’ll see an image of Our Lady with rabbits around her.
“Everyone knows the phrase, ‘breeding like rabbits.’ They explode in population every spring. Medieval people thought that rabbits, because of how quickly they reproduce, must have been able to reproduce asexually.
“They thought that rabbits, as virgins, could give birth to other rabbits. So this became a sign and a symbol of the virgin birth and of Our Lady.
“Rabbits became very tied up with the Virgin Mary. Rabbits give birth in the spring, and it was the Virgin Mary giving life, and it became a symbol of the virgin birth, but also the rebirth of spring and of fertility. So that’s how rabbits became tied up with Easter.”
“Why Easter eggs?”
Scheel explains, “Easter eggs come from the fact that there were very poor farmers, and most of them had chickens. Eggs were a very important source of nutrition for them.
“Lent used to be much more strict. You couldn’t eat eggs after a certain point during Lent. So the farmers couldn’t eat the eggs, and they’re going bad. But they knew that once Easter approached, they boiled the eggs and they lasted long enough to make it to Easter.
So it was a way of not having to throw away food that they couldn’t eat. They were able to preserve it and save it for Easter. Hardboiled eggs became very common”
“People started decorating them because they had eggs sitting around…They dyed them red to signify the blood of the Lord, and then when you crack them open on Easter, it’s white. It’s cracking open the blood of the tomb into the Resurrection.”