Q. I am looking for answers to a question posed to me on the origins of Easter – does it originate in Babylon and is known as Ishtar and also the yule log used in yuletide festivities that originates from Semiramis in the plains of Shinar (Babylon)?
A. The word Easter most likely originated with Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of fertility. The Feast of Ishtar was held each spring at the time of the equinox and was re-purposed as a celebration of the resurrection by the early Gentile Church. This is probably why we find eggs and rabbits, normally symbolizing fertility, associated with Easter. Parts of the Eastern Church, which was from mostly Jewish roots, rejected this idea and continues to celebrate the resurrection on its original date, the Sunday morning following Passover
According to Bishop Alexander Hisslop, author of “The Two Babylons” yule is the Chaldean word for child. As it burned out, the yule log commemorated the death of the sun god at the time of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The evergreen tree that replaced it symbolized his re-birth.
Some associate this tradition with Semiramis as a memorial to her son Tammuz, who according to legend, was killed in a hunting accident and returned to life 40 days later and who she claimed to have been fathered by the sun god.