→Origins of Easter
Both in Near Eastern and ancient European traditions, the spring equinox was a time of religious festivals that focused on sexuality and fertility. The ancient Babylonians had a "sacred marriage" ceremony where the king would ritualistically have sex with a female representative of the goddess Ishtar. These rituals were seen as critical in continuing life as they allowed its rejuvenation after winter. Eostre seems to be associated with many Indo-European goddesses and as Indo-Europeans migrated from India and through Anatolia, it is possible the traditions of Eostre mixed or were influenced by or along with traditions of Ishtar.<ref>For more on the symbols of fertility and sex in relation to the spring equinox, see: Armstrong, K. (1998) <i>A History of God: the 4000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam</i>. New York, Ballantine. </ref>
Interestingly, for other European cultures, the term for Easter derives from Passover. In essence, it was the Northern European Germanic traditions that may have retained their older holiday names, while southern European or Latin and Greek influenced cultures utilized a new name after their conversions. It is also likely that the southern European cultures, which converted earlier than in Northern Europe, had more time to assimilate their older traditions with Christianity.
[[File:Ostara by Johannes Gehrts.jpg|thumbnail|Figure 1. The goddess Eostre, whose name may have led to the term Easter developing in Germanic languages. ]]