The English word Easter has a mythical etymology. It originates from the Germanic goddess of fertility – Eostre. Prior to the 300’s, pagan festivities were held in her honour in the month of April. These festivities were slowly replaced by Christian traditions from the 400’s to celebrate the resurrection of Christ – and given the ‘recognisable’ name Easter.
But what about the Swedish word for Easter – Påsk? Where does that originate?
During the same period as Easter, the world’s Jews celebrate a holiday of Passover to mark their liberation by God from slavery in ancient Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses. Passover commemorates the story of the Exodus as described in the ‘Book of Exodus’, in which the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. The name of this celebration is ‘Pesach‘.
Originating in this word ‘pesach’ is the Aramaic word ‘paska‘. And from ‘paska’ comes the Swedish word ‘Påsk‘.
So, interestingly, the more secular country of Sweden actually has the most religious origin of the word Easter.