Easter (n.) - Sunrise, Direction, or Goddess.
A Christian holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
History & Etymology
For years and years I’ve always heard that easter was named after a fertility goddess. That particular goddess was Ēostre. Turns out her name is identical to the old words for dawn or sunrise, and the word for east.
The PIE word aus- meant “to shine” or “Dawn” and came in to Latin as Aurora which meant sunrise. It also made its way into Germanic Languages as Ost meaning East, where the sunrises. This is possibly the origin of the name of the month of April in early english Eastermonað.
The other possible origin comes to us from a Christian monk in the 700s AD named Bede. His work on calculating the dates of when the Easter holiday should fall is the earliest written reference to the saxon goddess Ostara. His writing is the best evidence that the month and the holiday are named after a pagan goddess. Curiously enough one of the most famous philologists of all time came to his defence. Jacob Grimm, yes from Grimms Fairy Tales, he extrapolated what the name of a fertility goddess might be based on early Germanic names. The name he came up with was Ostara, this backed up Bedes claims that the holiday may have been named after a fertility goddess.
I still find it strange that English chose a different name for this holiday than pretty much any other language spoken in Christian communities. Most non-English speakers call the holiday Pascha which comes from a transliterated Hebrew word for the Passover Feast, Pesach.