Grace and peace, Saints.
Last week my son and I were waiting for the subway, when an advertisement for chocolate Easter eggs and bunnies appeared on the television monitor on the wall of the subway station. As we watched the advertisement, it dawned on me that I had never explained to my son the difference between Easter and Resurrection Day and why Easter eggs and bunnies have nothing at all to do with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
The modern-day Christian Church is extremely ignorant about the pagan origins of many of our holidays, traditions, and customs. Consequently, many Christians believe that Easter is the same as Resurrection Day. Not a few churches, for example, will host Easter egg hunts on the church grounds (weather permitting), and children will receive Easter baskets full of chocolate bunnies, eggs, and candy. Many Christians believe that because Easter is mentioned in the Bible, it must be Christian. But this is not true. Easter is not the day our Lord Jesus rose from the dead, but is instead a pagan celebration in honor of the ancient Phoenician fertility goddess Ashtoreth, also called Ishtar and Easter.
In reality, Easter has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. In fact, Easter is mentioned only once in the Bible, in Chapter 12 of the book of the Acts, and it is not in connection with Jesus or the Christian Church:
“Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
“And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
“And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
“And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people” (Acts 12:1-4).
To understand the Bible’s mention of Easter, it is important to first understand that it Easter is connected with King Herod and not the Christian church. It is also important to understand that Herod was not a Christian. He even mocked Jesus when Pontius Pilate sent Jesus to him. Herod wasn’t even a believing Jew. He was a pagan: Jewish by birth, but Roman at heart. The Herods were always loyal to Rome. The Romans worshipped the goddess Diana (and many other gods and goddesses), and there is every reason to believe that Herod did also. Herod wanted to wait until Easter passed to kill Peter, because he worshipped the goddess Ishtar or Easter.
Easter has also been confused with the Passover, because the Roman Catholic church used to base the date of the Easter celebration on the Jewish Passover. Christians make the mistake of believing that because the Bible says Herod had Peter arrested during the days of unleavened bread, which are the six days that precede the Passover, then Easter must be the same as the Passover. As a matter of fact, one of my Bibles, the 1990 Regency Bible from Thomas Nelson Publishers, in the “read along translation,” says that Easter is the Passover. Additionally, the New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (also from Thomas Nelson) says that Easter is the Passover.
How can this be? The Passover is celebrated on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. Jesus rose on Sunday, the first day of the week. They are not the same. Nowhere in the Bible is the word Easter substituted for Passover. That is because Easter is a pagan fertility festival.
Secular sources agree. The New Oxford American Dictionary defines Easter as “the most important and oldest festival of the Christian Church, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” yet it goes on to say that the word Easter is “derived from Eastre, the name of a goddess associated with spring.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (Unabridged), says the word Easter comes from the “West Germanic name of a pagan spring festival.” Collier’s Encyclopedia says that the word Easter comes from Eostra a “goddess of dawn or spring” (p. 492). And the New Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language, International Edition (1970), defines Easter as “a goddess of light or spring, in honor of whom a festival was celebrated in April.”
For its part, the New Strong’s Concordance says that the word Easter is Chaldean, not Hebrew. Chaldean means Babylonian, and the Babylonians worshipped the goddess Beltis. Many historians agree that the paganism of Rome was handed down directly from Babylon. Easter is a pagan Roman holiday named for the goddess of sex. This goddess goes by many names; Easter is just one of them.
The Bible gives absolutely no evidence that the early Church celebrated the resurrection of Jesus with a holiday. In fact, according to the Bible, the only way the first century Church celebrated Jesus’ resurrection was by eating the Lord’s Supper.
At the Last Supper, the night before our Lord Jesus was to be crucified, He told His disciples that the bread symbolized His body, which was broken (crucified) for us, while the wine symbolized His blood, which was shed for us (Mark 13:22-24, 1 Corinthians 11:24-25). By eating the Lord’s Supper, then, we celebrate Jesus’ death. Jesus rose on Sunday, the first day of the week (Mark 16:9). When we eat the Lord’s Supper on Sunday, therefore, we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. The Sunday observance of the Lord’s Supper is therefore, the celebration of Jesus’ death AND resurrection. The early Church ate the Lord’s Supper every Sunday (Acts 2:42), and, therefore, celebrated Jesus’ death and resurrection every Sunday. Incredibly, the Encyclopedia Britannica, a secular publication, says that Sunday “came to be regarded as the weekly celebration of the Resurrection” (Vol. 4, Macropedia, p. 333 “EASTER”).
How, then, did the Christian Church come to identify the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with a pagan fertility festival? Well, the Roman Catholic church had everything to do with that. It was the Roman Catholic Council of Nicaea in 325 that established the Easter celebration as a church holiday. And what is even more revealing of the true nature of the Easter celebration is that the Nicene Council did not base the date for the Easter celebration on the day Jesus rose or even three days after He was crucified, but set it to fall “always the first Sunday after the full moon on or next after the vernal equinox, March 21” (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, p. 716). The current date of the Easter celebration is based on the moon!
This is especially significant when one considers that the Roman Catholic church was not established by Jesus Christ, but by the Roman Emperor Constantine. History records that Emperor Constantine worshipped the Sun God “Sol Invictus,” and the Romans in general worshipped Diana, the goddess of the moon. That the Roman Catholic church did not base the date of the Easter celebration on Jesus’ resurrection is the greatest evidence that Easter is not the day Jesus rose from the dead.
But there is more. Not only was Diana the Roman goddess of the moon, but she was also the goddess of fertility and sexual love (Oxford Dictionary of English). This is where Easter eggs, the Easter rabbit, and chocolate enter the picture. They all have a pagan sexual connotation. The Encyclopedia Britannica, says this:
“Easter eggs…have been very prominent as a symbol of new life and resurrection. The hare, the symbol of fertility in ancient Egypt, a symbol that was kept later in Europe, is not found in North America. Its place is taken by the Easter rabbit, the symbol of fertility and periodicity both human and lunar, accredited with laying eggs in nests prepared for it at Easter or with hiding them away for children to find” (Encyclopedia Britannica, Fifteenth Edition, Vol. 4 Macropedia, p. 333).
Chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac (a substance that heightens sexual urges). The word aphrodisiac is actually derived from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of fertility and sexual love. As one can plainly see, Easter is not about Jesus. Easter is about sex.
There is something else to consider. Because the Apostle Luke, the writer of the Book of the Acts, uses the word Easter so matter-of-factly and with no explanation whatsoever, it stands to reason that he, and perhaps all Christians at the time, were familiar with this pagan holiday. This is especially true, when one considers that many of the early church were former pagans.
In conclusion, one difference between Christians and the world should be that Christians don’t do anything without knowing why they do it. The basis for everything we do as a Church should be the Bible. If it’s not in the Bible, we shouldn’t be doing it. Easter, while on the surface, a day to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, is really a pagan fertility festival, and has nothing to do with Jesus. According to the Bible, the Church ought to be celebrating the Lord’s resurrection by eating the Lord’s Supper, and we should be doing that every single Sunday.
Now, I’m not saying that Christians shouldn’t celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. All I’m saying is that the first century Church and Christians for long after celebrated Jesus’ resurrection every Sunday with the Lord’s Supper. The 21st century Church should do the same. My Bible says that Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Shouldn’t that be true of His Church also?
Be encouraged and look up, for your redemption draweth nigh.