WHERE DOES EASTER COME FROM?
Why do Christians celebrate this day called Easter Sunday? It isn’t mentioned in the Bible. Jesus didn’t do it. His disciples and the early church didn’t celebrate a day called Easter so why do we when God has personally ordained us so many wonderful celebrations, many of which most so called “Christians” don’t recognize or honor and celebrate at all? Why do Christians celebrate Easter? Should we?
Most all of our so called “Christian” holidays that are celebrated by most Christian denominations today are rooted in ancient pagan holidays that God told us we as followers of Jesus the Christ, believers in the one true living God, Jehovah should have no part of yet most of these holidays, Easter and Christmas in particular are very much a part of so called “Christian” denominations around the world today.
These holiays: Easter, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day and other days honoring various saints, Halloween have not been ordained or sanctioned in any way by our Lord God. They were incorporated into the Christian faith hundreds of years later by the Church of Rome that then dominated the world and then when the Separatist and Protestantism came into being the Protestant denominations carried many of these holidays over into their own doctrines. These holidays were never part of the early, original Christian church, the church Jesus established and we as followers of Christ were told we should avoid such things if for no other reason than to avoid the appearance of evil and should not in any way practice pagan beliefs. So how did these holidays become part of our Christian traditions and celebrations? How did Easter become the most holy and revered of all Christian holidays? It would appear that what we have done is to take pagan beliefs and celebrations and white wash them to fit our own doctrines, traditions and create our own celebrations.
The most highly revered of these holidays are Easter and Christmas and Easter is the holiest of all these religious holidays. Easter is always celebrated everywhere around the world in all cultures that celebrate Easter or Resurrection Day on the first Sunday after the first full moon that follows the spring equinox. Though tradition tells us that Jesus died on a Friday (Good Friday) and rose from the grave fully alive, having conquered and overcome death on the following Sunday, the day we call Easter, this does not equate with what Jesus said would happen and cannot be what actually happened.
Jesus said He would be in the grave for three days; that is three complete and full days; twenty-four hours. According to the Bible one day goes from sunset to sunset; “and the evening (darkness) and the morning (light) were the first day” (the Bible) and the second day and third and the fourth and so on. We know that Jesus was crucified during the daylight hours and died somewhere around the ninth hour of the day. That would be about three o’clock in the afternoon figuring time according to our clocks and the Bible says and so do other historical documents that it was the ninth hour and that He was buried before sunset on this same day. From sunset Friday to sunset Saturday is only one day and we know that when Mary and others went to the grave while it was still dark (before sunrise) and following the Sabbath which most Christian denominations assume to have been on a Saturday, Jesus had already risen. He was not there. From Friday just before sunset to Sunday just before sunrise is not three days by any stretch of the imagination. Jesus could not have died on Friday and risen on Sunday early morning. So where did Easter come from and why do Christians celebrate it?
Why do we have and celebrate an Easter sunrise service to honor Jesus and the resurrection from the dead of our Lord God and Savior, Jesus the Christ? How have we become so confounded that we have ended up doing exactly what God said we should not do and calling these celebrations holy?
I’m not trying to point fingers or accuse anyone. We are doing what we have been trained up to do by the leaders of our churches but maybe we are following the wrong leader, not so different from politics, and in actuality that is what all this misconception really boils down to, so much politics. I used to celebrate Easter and Christmas and even Halloween just like everyone else and I didn’t see anything wrong with it. It was festive and fun and what harm could it possibly be? Everyone does it, don’t they? I now believe it was very wrong. I raised my children with the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs and Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. We told ghost stories, carved pumpkins and lighted them with candles and pretended to be witches and goblins and ghouls and went trick o treating on Halloween. I’m sorry. I really didn’t know better. I was wrong. I now sincerely believe I was wrong, very wrong.
In later years I went back to college and some of my studies included the philosophies and religions, ancient cultures around the world. These studies caused me to get into a more in depth study of Christianity, really studying the Bible and other ancient text regarding the Hebrew nation, the life of Jesus, the Christ and the origins of the Christian church.
For awhile I continued with these same traditions even though I was beginning to question them and their validity when it comes to truly being a Christian, following Jesus, living my life as He said we should live. So what about Easter?
The Jews at this time were celebrating Passover, a weeklong Sabbath that celebrates God’s love, mercy and grace towards them while they were captives in Egypt. Passover represent the passing over of the angel of death when God sent the angel of death to claim the first born son of each household in Egypt as a plague, a punishment. To protect His own people, those who loved, honored and followed Him God instructed them to slaughter, sacrifice a lamb and place the lamb’s blood on their door frame. When the angel of death passed over and saw the blood of the lamb the first born in their household would be spared, saved, they would not die. True to His word, the angel of death did pass over all Egypt that night and death came to every household not covered by the blood of the lamb. Pharaoh let God’s people go, set them free from Egyptian bondage. He got the message but not until his own son and heir to the Egyptian empire, which was most of the known world at that time, had been taken from him. His son had died an untimely and unexpected death during the night. Pharaoh set the Hebrews free, demanded they leave. Of course Pharaoh changed his mind later and sent his armies to recapture the Hebrews and caught up with them at the Red Sea, but that is another story.
This whole Passover story is a reflection of things that were to come when another lamb, the Lamb of God, God’s only begotten Son, Jesus, the heir to the Kingdom of God would also be sacrificed that those who believed in Him might not die but would live, be saved, spared. For God so loved the world (that is you and me) that He gave (sacrificed) His only begotten Son (Jesus) that whosoever (you and me and everyone else) shall not perish (die) but might have life everlasting (eternal). The Bible says that in John 3:16. This whole story is backed up by other non religious historical documents. Jesus died and lives that we may live also.
So the Hebrews were celebrating a weeklong Sabbath to honor Jehovah God for their salvation, for having spared them during this horrid and dreadful plague that had fallen on Egypt. Jesus and His disciples had come to Jerusalem to participate in this most holy celebration as was their tradition. The dates and times of this celebration were determined by the Lunar calendar, not the Roman calendar that we follow today.
All the dates for all the Jewish celebrations and festival were guided by this calendar and their days went from sunset to sunset not dawn to dawn as ours do, or from midnight to midnight as we schedule the hours of our days. That didn’t exist back then. We have it a little twisted and nobody celebrated Easter back then except those of pagan beliefs who worshipped a goddess of fertility and rebirth. These were sun worshippers, cultures who worshipped many gods and did not honor and worship the one true God. They did not know Him, our Lord God Jehovah.
They did not recognize Jesus as the son of God. They had very different beliefs than the beliefs of the Hebrew nations. They celebrated this goddess with feasting and dancing and with sacrifice, sacrificing a virgin daughter to the goddess. It was an abomination to Jehovah God, the one true God and the God of even their creation and these pagan rituals and beliefs all began way before Jesus ever came to Earth to be born, the Son of God, son of man, live among us, die for us and conquer death and the grave to rise again fully alive so we may live also. He redeemed us, became our savior by paying the price, being the lamb sacrificed to cover sin and shame and open the gates so we may be set free from the bondage of our sinful beings. We all sin and come short of the glory of God.
The Hebrew peoples used the lunar calendar to define and identify the time of their high Sabbath, the Passover. Now there is nothing wrong with celebrating the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s only begotten Son and we should, always and in all ways. At the Passover meal Jesus had with His disciples just before He was arrested and crucified after they had supped Jesus broke bread and used it as a symbol of His body which was about to be broken for us and then took the cup (wine or grape juice) and used that as a symbol of His blood that was about to be shed for the remission of sin and told His disciples that whenever they (His followers) gathered they were to do this in remembrance of Him. (Today this act is called Holy Communion or Partaking in The Lord’s Supper.) The breaking and eating of bread and the drinking of wine or grape juice (fruit of the vine) becomes the symbol of our rebirth, death and resurrection to new life in Christ, Jesus through His sacrifice that covered all other sacrifices. It is because of Him and through Him that we may have life. All honor, glory and praise should be to Him but are we really doing that when it comes to Easter. Why do we call it Easter? Are we unknowingly making a mockery of the greatest story ever told; the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, the Christ, the very Son of our Lord God Jehovah, our Heavenly Father?
For years after Jesus rose and then returned to Heaven to be with His Father and serve as our High Priest, our mediator, the Judeo-Christian community continued to celebrate Passover and the followers of Jesus, the Christ saw the likeness just as Jesus had explained to them and honored the Lord for His sacrifice, His gift of life to us. This was (is) the good news.
So where did Easter come from anyhow and how did we end up incorporating it into our Christian beliefs? It probably begins with a story, a myth, a legend that comes out of ancient Babylon, maybe even farther back but this is what stands out to me from my own studies.
According to ancient Babylonian legend a giant egg (This is why we now have Easter eggs) fell from the sky (heaven) and landed in the sea where it was pushed and rolled ashore by small fishes. It seems the egg fell from the heavens about the time of the vernal equinox, the arrival of spring and light, longer days and warmer weather and was seen as a sign of blessing, good fortune, from the heavens. (This is why we have the Easter Bunny, the rabbit being an ancient symbol of fertility and reproduction) This egg was then hatched by doves and out of the egg came the goddess Ishtar or Ashtoreth. As the legend spread so did the worship of this goddess of fertility and reproduction until over time it was believed and celebrated even in Europe. It was celebrated with all manner of feasting, chanting, dancing and sacrifice including all kinds of debauchery and the rape of young virgins.
The name Ashtoreth translated to Gaelic is Eastre and was later changed to Easter by the English speaking people. So now we have Easter, a pagan celebration that has been granted Christian respectability having been whitewashed to coincide with our own beliefs and not infringe on those of the pagans and their rites and rituals of the time that included animal and human sacrifice of children into which we incorporated the story of the cross to represent our own living sacrifice. His blood becomes the symbolic blood that in the true celebration of Easter is that of a child or an animal, a lamb, a goat or a dove, some other animal. (I personally do not think this is what God had in mind when He said we were to honor Him.)
The word Easter does not appear in any of the original Hebrew or Greek transcripts that deal with Judeo-Christianity anywhere, not even once until the 17th century when the first King James Bibles were printed and then it appears one time in Acts 12:4 where Easter is substituted for the Hebrew word “pesach” which means “Passover” the same word that in Greek is “paschal” and also means Passover. It was corrected in later printings and the word pesach, paschal or Passover was put back where it belonged and Easter does not appear in any of the translations I have read today including my favored King James translation. Easter is not there and it shouldn’t be because Easter has nothing to do with Jesus or worshipping and honoring God.
At one time the Church of Rome pretty much ruled the world and the Roman Emperor was the head of the church and like all good politicians what do you do, you give your public teasers, a little bit of what they desire but not enough to give them any real control. You hand pick your council or czars that oversee all your institutions and governmental agencies and make sure they are running according to your plans and that the people are reasonably appeased so they do not rebel. If you are really good you know how to sugar-coat, whitewash and lie with a straight face.
Remember the story of the serpent in the Garden of Eden and how easily he deceived Eve? The incorporation of Easter and most of our other so called “Christian” holidays is exactly the same thing.
At the time when we first began celebrating Easter within the Christian community Rome pretty much ruled the entire world and what it didn’t exactly rule it had influence over. Constantine was Emperor at the time and proclaimed his own faith in Christianity. Having done this he set out to appease his subjects to keep everyone happy or as happy as he could. He was a very good politician.
The majority of his subjects still held with their pagan beliefs and worshipped many gods including the physical Roman population and all their Roman gods but Constantine declared his own declared “Christian” beliefs to be the religion of State and then set out to implement certain laws that would appease and unite his pagan subjects. He changed Sabbath from the 7th day (Saturday) by the Roman calendar to Sunday and while pagans worshiped the sun (that fiery ball up in the heavens that gives us heat and light) Constantine gave it a political twist and claimed Sunday as the day to worship the Son of God. Whitewash it, sugar coat it, make it a law and the people will bow down and do your bidding. It worked. Sabbath became Sunday and the people were deceived and accepted it because the Emperor said so.
The same thing happened with Passover and what was the Passover celebration became Holy Week culminating in Easter Sunday. It was in 325 AD when Constantine decided he needed to do something to bring more pagans into his fold.
He convened the Council of Nicaea using his own handpicked czars to consider and determine the new law he would enact. During the same time the Judeo-Christian community was celebrating Passover, the pagan community was celebrating the vernal equinox and the arrival of spring and paying homage and honor to the goddess Ishtar (aka Eastre) or Ashtoreth the goddess of fertility, reproduction and rebirth.
This was an easy enough fix; you make a new law, a law that will appease all the people. The new law celebrates the resurrection from death to life, rebirth,
Resurrection referring to the resurrection of Jesus from the grave and rebirth being our rebirth into eternal life through Jesus. This can be seen in the resurrection of spring and light after the long season of death and darkness the pagans are celebrating in their worship of Eastre. And so Passover came to be called Easter by law handed down by the Church of Rome under Constantine and it was ruled and made law that the Easter festival would be celebrated throughout the Christian world.
The Jews got to keep their Passover and to appease the pagans the church began introducing such things as Easter bunnies and Easter eggs (symbols of fertility and the goddess Eastre) and claimed them to be symbolic of the resurrection and rebirth to new life in Christ. The Church of Rome could bring an end to all other forms of sacrifice because Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and followers could claim Jesus as their sacrifice and not have to sacrifice their daughter or some other animal to the pagan goddess Eastre or by whatever the culture called their particular goddess of spring.
What a clever deception that has spread into a huge religious and commercial enterprise with Jesus having pretty much been pushed right out of the picture except for maybe a few souls but even most of them give only an hour or two of thought to Jesus and all He did and then go about the remainder of the holiday feasting, celebrating with eggs and bunnies and in some cases with a lot of other debauchery as our thoughts turn to spring and the coming summer season and Easter, pagan as it actually is seems to have become “Christian” in context all because one man dared to change God’s Holy word to appease and satisfy his own ego and get his subjects to bow to his demands. Just like in the Garden of Eden man has been deceived.