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Dr Nugent is quick to point out that drawing parallels between the story of Jesus and the epic of Inanna “doesn't necessarily mean that there wasn't a real person, Jesus, who was crucified, but rather that, if there was, the story about it is structured and embellished in accordance with a pattern that was very ancient and widespread.” The Sumerian goddess Inanna is known outside of Mesopotamia by her Babylonian name, "Ishtar".In ancient Canaan Ishtar is known as Astarte, and her counterparts in the Greek and Roman pantheons are known as Aphrodite and Venus.Among these stories are prevailing themes of fertility, conception, renewal, descent into darkness, and the triumph of light over darkness or good over evil.Easter as a celebration of the Goddess of Spring A related perspective is that, rather than being a representation of the story of Ishtar, Easter was originally a celebration of Eostre, goddess of Spring, otherwise known as Ostara, Austra, and Eastre.One of the most revered aspects of Ostara for both ancient and modern observers is a spirit of renewal.

Regardless of the very ancient origins of the symbol of the egg, most people agree that nothing symbolises renewal more perfectly than the egg – round, endless, and full of the promise of life.

While many of the pagan customs associated with the celebration of Spring were at one stage practised alongside Christian Easter traditions, they eventually came to be absorbed within Christianity, as symbols of the resurrection of Jesus.

The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March equinox.

Dr Nugent points out that the story of Inanna and Damuzi is just one of a number of accounts of dying and rising gods that represent the cycle of the seasons and the stars.

For example, the resurrection of Egyptian Horus; the story of Mithras, who was worshipped at Springtime; and the tale of Dionysus, resurrected by his grandmother.

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