UPDATED April 14, 2022: After the publication of this article, Easton Mayor Sal Panto responded to a request for comment from ChurchLeaders with the following statement:
After discussion with City Council on Wednesday evening the Administration followed up with our attorneys and the word “Easter” will remain in our announcements about the Easter Egg Hunt.
ChurchLeaders original article written on April 14, 2022:
The city of Easton in Pennsylvania has dropped the word “Easter” from the promotions of its city-sponsored Easter egg hunts after receiving a complaint related to the separation of church and state.
‘Easter Egg Hunts’ Now Just ‘Egg Hunts’
At a city council meeting the night of Wednesday, April 13, Mayor Salvatore J. Panto, Jr. said that a resident had complained about the use of the word “Easter” in city-sponsored Easter egg hunts because of the word’s religious connotations, reports Lehigh Valley Live. It appears that the city council does not currently have guidelines for how to handle a situation such as this one.
City Solicitor Joel Scheer offered to draft guidelines for the city moving forward, but said the they would not be ready by this weekend. Easton is holding two egg hunts Saturday, April 16, one at 10 a.m. at Nevin Park and one at 11 a.m. at Cottingham Stadium. City Administrator Luis Campos told the council that he had dropped the word “Easter” for the time being from promotions of the egg hunts on the city’s social media.
“As long [as] we don’t contribute money to the advancement of a particular religion or endorse one over the other, that’s what we have to watch out for,” said Scheer, who did not feel strongly one way or another about using the word “Easter.” Councilman David O’Connell said, “I think the guy’s got too much time on his hands.”
ChurchLeaders has reached out to Easton’s Parks and Recreation Department and Mayor Panto for comment and will update this article in the event of a reply.
What Is the Origin of ‘Easter’?
Ironically, while there is no doubt that Easter is the most important day of the year for Christians, it is possible that the word “Easter” has pagan origins. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the origin of the word is unclear.
One view, held by 19th-century Scottish Protestant clergyman Alexander Hislop was that the word “Easter” comes from the name of the Babylonian goddess “Ishtar” or “Astarte.” However, the Venerable Bede, an English monk born in the late 600s, said that the word comes from the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility and spring. Answers in Genesis’ Roger Patterson addresses these two views in an article and discounts Hislop’s. While acknowledging Bede’s view could be correct, Patterson offers an argument for why “Easter” could also be related to “auferstehung,” the German word for “resurrection.”