What is Easter? I mean, really truly, what is Easter? The answer depends on who you ask, and more than that, their epistemology (worldview). If you ask a pastor of a modern church, you would be told that Easter is the celebration of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, rising three days after He had been crucified, miraculously being resurrected from the grave.
If you were to ask a pastor of a reformed church you might hear that but you would probably have a higher chance of hearing that Easter is a pagan holiday with a pagan idol at the center of all the pagan worship. After all, what do bunnies hiding eggs have to do with Christ’s resurrection from the grave? What does decorating Easter eggs have to do with it? Have you ever asked yourself these questions before?
I would like to ask you to evaluate (or re-evaluate) what Easter truly is. What we are really celebrating? What is really behind decorating eggs, hiding and finding eggs, and the Easter bunny who leaves candy and sweet things behind for children? Let’s be a thinking people; going to the Scripture for our plumb line as the Bereans that Paul exhorted in Acts 17:10 & 11:
“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
The Berean Christians couldn’t take a mere person’s word as truth — they knew they had to go to Scripture to determine what was true and what was false. If you happen to have smaller children who might be reading over your shoulder, and you do endorse the Easter bunny in your home, you might not want them to read this. Or they might ask you a lot of questions that may be hard to answer.
It began after the world wide flood with Noah’s descendants. Because the thought of man is “evil continuously” and the “heart is deceitful above all things”, man’s intentions turned back to evil once again. They began to worship the father of lies, the old adversary, the devil and listening to his promptings in their heart. They invented many false gods and sought to please them even when it was necessary to do so by evil rituals.
Easter is connected to one of these false idols. It was known by different names depending on the region you were in during that day. Mainly, this goddess went by the name of Ishtar (pronounced Easter) although she was also known as Ostera, Eostre, Ashtoroth and Astarte. You can find references to these gods in several different portions of Scripture. And, remember, these reference are all before the resurrection of Christ.
“And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only.” — 1 Samuel 12:3,4
“And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the Lord, and served not him.” — Judges 10:6
“For Solomon went after Ashtaroth the goddess of the Zidonians” — 2 Kings 11:5
Ishtar was the wife of the god Baal. She was known as the Great Mother, the Goddess of Fertility, and the Queen of Heaven. Many historians believe that this goddess is actually based on the wife of the infamous Nimrod found in Genesis 10, Semiramis, the queen of the city who attempted to build the structure commonly called the Tower of Babel. So right about now you may be wondering what this goddess has to do with the price of rice in China. Or at least with the celebration of Easter.
According to Hazeltine, “Easter—the name Easter comes to us from Ostera or Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, for whom a spring festival was held annually, as it is from this pagan festival that some of our Easter customs have come.”
This goddess is the goddess of fertility and the name of this goddess is synonymous with the celebrating that went on in tribal communities during that time. Using symbolism, the people celebrated fertility during the springtime, when the birds and bees and other wild animals are having their little babies. They celebrated by decorating eggs as a symbol of spring and fertility. In Egypt these eggs were then offered to the idols in the temple. They celebrated by honoring the Easter bunny since the hare was a symbol of fertility in ancient Egypt because of the rapid rate which they can reproduce. If you have ever had rabbits you can attest that, if not separated, one generational vision that can go haywire very quickly! So the common tie between Easter eggs and the Easter bunny is of pagan origin. How else can you reconcile a rabbit and eggs in such a close relationship?
So, if what I have written thus far is true, how did pagan symbolism and worship get caught up in a Christian celebration? I would submit that as the Roman Catholic Church began to Christianize the heathens they liked their pagan rituals and thus held on to them. They rather enjoyed the celebrations of their own gods and idols. Ironically, as a result the Catholics didn’t get many converts. So what did the Catholic church do? They began to “Christianize” and “baptize” the pagan rituals and celebrations, thereby making Christianity look appealing to them. Much the way we do in our modern mega churches today: playing music with popular rhythms and beats and refusing to teach any Scriptures that might offend people. Basically they added smoke and disco lights to the worship service. Trying to gain more popularity, they hosted popular activities — such as Easter egg hunts.
Easter was not celebrated in North America until after the War Between the States was ended because even then it was still regarded as a pagan holiday. Slowly, though, people let their convictions slip and desired to join in the fun that other people were having. So it became accepted by a nation and not many people have since questioned the celebration.
What is a Christian to do? Throw up our hands and walk away? In no way! Instead, we are called to be the “salt and light of the earth, and a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid” and we cannot be that if we are joining in with everyone else for the simple reason that “everyone else” does it. If “everyone else” jumped off a bridge to their death onto jagged rocks below would we participate? If “everyone else” accepted the fact that the emperor had clothes on would we be brave enough to stand up by ourselves and declare that, as a matter of fact, the emperor had been deceived?
Our pastor says that every Sunday should be a celebration of our Lord’s resurrection from the dead. Every Sunday. Not just one particular Sunday in a year. After all, we meet in corporate worship on Sunday because Jesus Christ rose from the dead — on a Sunday. Resurrection Sunday is a day when we can remind ourselves to celebrate His being willing to submit to His Father’s will and dying a horrible death to redeem us from our sins. All so that we can live in for His glory in time and eternity. We shouldn’t worship Him with eggs and bunnies and candy, but with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength (Deu. 6:5).