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Iceni Magazine | December 2, 2021

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How Did Easter Island Get Its Name?

How Did Easter Island Get Its Name?

Easter Island is known across the world. Most people will recognise it for its iconic, mysterious statues.

Whereas others think of the beautiful landscapes and the culture of its people. It carries so much fascination, which is furthered by the fact that it’s the most remote place in the world. So how did this island in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean come to be associated with Easter?

Easter Island

When you hear the word Easter, you might think of giant Easter eggs, bunnies, or springtime. You’d be forgiven if you think Easter Island has a large rabbit population, but really there’s not much that connects the seasonal holiday with this land. In 1722, Dutch explorers christened the Paaseiland to mark the day of their arrival. This translates as Easter Island. Those explorers are the reason it still goes by the name today.

Rapa Nui

However, Easter Island is not the original name of the land. Its native name is Rapa Nui and those who live on the island still call it that. The people of Rapa Nui are Polynesians. Scholars debate over when they exactly arrived, but it is thought to be between 400 and 1250 AD. The reasons behind the migration are also unclear, as Rapa Nui is so far away from land. Legends say Hotu Matu’a was the first person to arrive on the island.


Do they celebrate Easter on Easter Island? There are no official holidays for the island. However, the nation does have its own festivals. This includes the Tapati Rapa Nui Festival. It brings carnival, sports, and theatre to celebrate the island’s culture. It’s a chance for people to celebrate their heritage.


The most famous part of the land is the Easter Island heads. These Moai statues have baffled scientists for centuries. There are over 1,000 of them scattered around the island’s landscape. These mysterious figures have drawn in tourists for years, with so many people wanting to see these memorizing marvels with their own eyes. A team of researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) claim to have solved the mystery. The study claims the Moai were placed in certain positions to help boost the fertility of the land.

Even though it’s the most remote place in the world, Easter Island / Rapa Nui draws in thousands of visitors a year. Each compelled to see the culture and landscapes up close. Would you like to visit?

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