Easter, Ishtar, Ashtoreth, Oestara, Astarte, Semiramus, ...

The name Easter, like the names of the days of the week, is a survival from the old Teutonic mythology. According to Bede [an eighth century monk] it is derived from Oestre, or Ostdra, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, to whom the month answering to our April, and called Eoster-monath, was dedicated.
-- "Easter", Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed.

What means the term Easter itself? It is not a Christian name. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven, whose name, as pronounced by the people of Nineveh, was evidently identical with that now in common use in this country. That name, as found by Layard on the Assyrian monuments is Ishtar."
-- The Two Babylons, Hislop, p. 103

Many ancient cultures share this legend of Semiramus and Nimrod: called by such names as Ishtar and Tammuz in Babylon; Isis and Osiris in Egypt; Astarte and Bel in Syria; Aphrodite, Cybele, or Venus, and Attis or Adonis in Greece and Rome; and Oestre (the dawn goddess) in Britain.

They considered her "the Mother of Gods", and often depicted her either as a fertility symbol, or as a madonna figure.

Many pre-christian Europeans thought that their sun gods and fertility goddesses died at the winter solstice and regained life again at the spring equinox.

The concept of death and rebirth plays a large role in these legends. e.g. Cybele mourned two days for Attis, then celebrated his return on the third day, while Venus mourned two days for Adonis until he ascended to heaven on the third day.


The word lent simply means spring, but commonly refers to a long period of abstinence.

In the Babylonian myth, Tammuz was killed by a wild boar, and his wife Ishtar dedicated 40 days to weeping and fasting.

Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD's house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
-- Ezekiel 8:14

Sunrise Services

Even in ancient times, astrologers knew when the Vernal equinox occurred, and their followers would celebrate the arrival of spring at the first sunrise of the season.

And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD's house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
-- Ezekiel 8:16

Hot Cross Buns

The cross symbol comes from the letter T, for Tammuz, husband of Ishtar, the queen of heaven.

The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, ...
-- Jeremiah 7:18

It is quite probable that it has a far older and more interesting origin, as is suggested by an inquiry into the origin of hot cross buns. These cakes, which are now solely associated with the Christian Good Friday, are traceable to the remotest period of pagan history. Cakes were offered by ancient Egyptians to their moon goddess; and these had imprinted on them a pair of horns, symbolic of the ox at the sacrifice of which they were offered on the altar, or of the horned moon goddess, the equivalent of Ishtar of the Assyro-Babylonians. The Greeks offered such sacred cakes to Astarte and other divinities. This cake they called bous (ox), in allusion to the ox-symbol marked on it, and from the accusative boun it is suggested that the word 'bun' is derived. Like the Greeks, the Romans eat cross-bread at public sacrifices, such bread being usually purchased at the doors of the temple and taken in with them, a custom alluded to by St. Paul in I Cor. x.28. At Herculaneum two small loaves about 5 in. in diameter, and plainly marked with a cross, were found. In the Old Testament are references made in Jer. vii.18-xliv.19, to such sacred bread being offered to the moon goddess. The cross-bread was eaten by the pagan Saxons in honor of Eoster, their goddess of light. The Mexicans and Peruvians are shown to have had a similar custom. The custom, in fact, was practically universal, ...
-- "Bun", Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed.

Easter Eggs

Ancient Babylonians believed that Ishtar hatched from an egg that fell from heaven.

... the egg as a symbol of fertility and of renewed life goes back to the ancient Egyptians and Persians, who had also the custom of colouring and eating eggs during their spring festival.
-- "Easter", Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed.


Because of its short reproductive cycle and large litters, people have long regarded the rabbit (or hare) as a symbol of fertility.

Hares were the sacrificial victims of the goddess Eostre, and in Teutonic myth, were believed to lay easter eggs.


In the Babylonian myth, Tammuz was killed by a wild boar. Pre-christian Europeans considered eating ham a symbol of luck. Eating pork also expresses a blatant rejection of God's laws regarding clean and unclean meats.


Other than taking place at around the same time of year, Easter and all its symbols and customs have nothing to do with Passover and Christ's Crucifixion and Resurrection. Adding Christian sounding trappings to the Pagan festivities has very effectively diverted the attention of most of those that might want to follow God's word.

The quotations from Ezekiel and Jeremiah in the above sections on Lent, Sunrise Services, and Hot Cross Buns were not written in order to suggest that one follow them, but as an observation of practices to be avoided.

Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
-- Deuteronomy 12:30-32

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
-- Matthew 15:8-9

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
-- Matthew 7:20-23

But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign [that Jesus was the Christ]; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
-- Matthew 12:39-40