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Found 2 results

  1. Easter is a holiday throughout the Christian world to celebrate that Jesus died for the sins of human kind and rose again on the third day. That's basically the answer that most people will give, and it's perfectly correct. In most languages, the name for Easter tends to be some derivation of the verb 'to pass', taken from the Hebrew Pesach, a Jewish holiday that in English is known as Passover, and which was being celebrated in Jerusalem at the time of the Crucifixion. That name has simply been appropriated by Christians for their new holiday which, for obvious reasons, falls around the same time (at some point after the first full moon after the vernal equinox). Since most Indo-European languages have named the holiday for passover (with names such as pascha, paskha, pashka, pasqua, pâques, pasch, pace, påske, påsk, pask, páskar, etc.), it does perhaps seem strange and unnatural that the English word should be so very different. Some have tried to connect the word Easter with the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess Ishtar, goddess of love, fertility, war and sex. It is a particularly popular hypothesis among Atheists who wish to discredit the Christian holiday by saying, 'hey, look, the name of your holiday comes from a sex goddess whose followers engaged in ritual prostitution!' Ironic and funny as that would no doubt be, there is little to support it. Instead, it seems that the word Easter comes from another, somewhat less innocuous fertility goddess. The goddess Eostre, or Ostara as she is also known, was a Germanic divinity whose festival fell around the vernal equinox. Again, we must look to linguistics to find the truth. Eostre derives from the proto-germanic austron, meaning 'dawn'. Aus means 'light' and is the root for the English word 'east' as well. Eostre would appear to be a germanic incarnation of a proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn whose name may have been haéusos, and who has no relation to Ishtar whatsoever. In old High German, the month that fell around April was called Ôstaramânoth, for Ostara. In West Saxon it was called Eastermonath, and from here it looks very much like clear sailing for the Eostre theory; much like the word 'yule' has been adopted as a name for Christmas (in Scandinavian, Christmas is called jul to this day), so here has a Pagan holiday given name to a Christian one, most likely because early Christian leaders were pragmatic. 'There's already a holiday here? Well then let's let them celebrate it, we'll just sneak in some extra stuff.' Of what little we know about the mythology surrounding Eostre, which admittedly isn't all that much, both eggs and hares seem to have held important symbolism in connection with her worship as a goddess of spring, dawn and fertility. I don't know how common bunnies were in ancient Mesopotamia, but I'm ready to bet that they were somewhat more prevalent in Northern Europe. If anyone's wondering why I decided to go on this rant, it's because I had a discussion with a friend (not on GA) this morning about whether Ishtar or Eostre was the root of the word Easter. I was pretty sure about my position, but did some research anyway, and not only did it prove me probably right, but it taught me a lot of neat stuff about Indo-European linguistics, so I figured, might as well share. Happy Easter!
  2. Attention! This post does contain some actual swearing. Posted this to Tumblr earlier, where it was well-received. Thought I'd share with the community as well. There are a lot of comparatively mild curse words that we just accept as being family friendly without much thought as to where they come from. Some are just milder versions of a word we consider unacceptable, such as saying 'crap' instead of 'shit' or 'darn' instead of 'damn'. Others have so completely lost their original meanings that no one even considers them anymore. Here are some fairly common British ones, with pop-culture examples for your enjoyment: tosser n. One who masturbates; same as wanker. 'Who's Harry Potter?' 'Oh, no one. Bit of a tosser, really.' —Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (seen by millions of children) bugger, sod v. To sodomise someone n. One who sodomises 'Bludgers. Nasty little buggers.' —Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Again, seen by millions of children) 'Sod this, you stay here if you want. On your own.' —Sherlock, S02E03: The Reichenbach Fall (prime time TV) berk n. Short for ‘Berkley Hunt’ or ‘Berkshire Hunt’, which is Cockney rhyming slang for ‘cunt’. 'Then what the hell did you tackle me for, you berk?' —Rupert Giles, Buffy the Vampire Slayer And there are so many more. Like, how many people who use the word 'douchebag' actually think about what that originally entailed?
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