Easter: Strictly a Pagan Celebration
From the book 'A World Deceived'
From where did Easter observance come? Did the early Christians dye Easter eggs? Did Peter or Paul ever conduct an Easter sunrise service? The answers, of course, are obvious.
The word “Easter” appears once in the King James Version: “… intending after Easter to bring Him forth to the people” (Acts 12:4). The word translated as “Easter” here is “pascha”, which is – as all scholars know – the Greek word for passover and has no connection with the English “Easter”.
It is well known that Easter is not a Christian expression – not in its original meaning. The word comes from the name of a pagan goddess – the goddess of the rising light of day and spring. “Easter” is but a modern form of Eostre, Pstera, Astarte, or Ishtar, the latter, according to Hislop, being pronounced as we pronounce “Easter” today. Like the word “Easter”, many of our customs at this season had their beginnings among pagan religions.
Easter eggs, for example, are colored, hid, hunted, and eaten – a custom done innocently today and often linked with a time of fun and frolic for children. But this custom did not originate in so-called Christianity. The egg was a sacred symbol among the Babylonians who believed an old fable about an egg of wondrous size which fell from heaven into the Euphrates River. From this marvellous egg – according to the ancient myth – the goddess Astarte (Easter) was hatched. The egg came to symbolize the goddess Easter.
The ancient Druids bore an egg as the sacred emblem of their idolatrous order. The procession of Ceres in Rome was preceded by an egg. In the mysteries of Bacchus an egg was consecrated. China used dyed or colored eggs in sacred festivals. In Japan, an ancient custom was to make the sacred egg a brazen color. In northern Europe, in pagan times, eggs were colored and used as symbols of the goddess of spring. Among the Egyptians, the egg was associated with the sun – the “golden egg”. Their dyed eggs were used as sacred offerings at the Easter season.
Says Encyclopedia Britannica, “The egg as a symbol of fertility and of renewed life goes back to the ancient Egyptians and Persians, who had also the custom of coloring and eating eggs during their spring festival.”
How then, did this custom come to be associated with so-called Christianity? Apparently some sought to Christianize the egg by suggesting that, as the chick comes out of the egg, so Christ came out of the tomb. Pope Paul V (1605-1621) even appointed a prayer in this connection: “Bless, O Lord, we beseech thee, this thy creature of eggs, that it may become wholesome sustenance unto thy servants, eating it in remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The following quotations from the Catholic Encyclopedia are significant. “Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to the table on Easter Day, colored red to symbolize the Easter joy…The custom may have its origin in Paganism, for a great many customs celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter”!
Such was the case with a custom that was popular in Europe. “The Easter fire is lit on top of mountains from new fire, drawn from wood by friction; this is a custom of pagan origin in vogue all over Europe, signifying the victory of spring over winter. The bishops issued severe edicts against sacrilegious Easter fires, but did not succeed in abolishing them everywhere.”
So what happened? Notice this carefully! “The church adopted the observance into the Easter ceremonies, referring to the fiery column in the desert and the resurrection of Christ!”
Were pagan customs mixed into the Romish church and given the appearance of Christianity? It is not necessary to take my word for it, in numerous places the Catholic Encyclopedia comes right out and says so.
“Like the Easter egg,” says the Encyclopedia Britannica, “the Easter hare came to Christianity from antiquity. The hare is associated with the moon in the legends of ancient Egypt and other peoples… Through the fact that the Egyptian word for hare, um, means also “open” and “period”, the hare came to be associated with the idea of periodicity, both lunar and human, and with the beginning of new life in both the young man and young woman, and so a symbol of fertility and of the renewal of life. As such, the hare became linked with Easter… eggs.” Finally, one more quote concerning the Easter rabbit: “The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility.”
At the Easter season it is not uncommon for so-called Christians to attend sunrise services. It is assumed that these honor Christ because he rose from the dead on Easter Sunday morning, just as the sun was coming up. But the resurrection did not actually occur at sunrise, for it was still dark when Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and it was already empty!
Rites connected with the dawning sun have been known among many ancient nations in one form of another. In Egypt, the Sphinx was located so as to face the east. From Mount Fuji-yama, Japan, prayers are made to the rising sun. “The pilgrims pray to their rising sun while climbing the mountain sides… sometimes one may see several hundreds of Shinto pilgrims in their white robes turning out from their shelters, and joining their chants to the rising sun.” The pagan Mithraists of Rome met together at dawn in honor of the sun-god.
The goddess of spring, from whose name our word “Easter” comes, was associated with the sun rising in the east – even as the very word “East-er” would seem to imply. Thus the dawn of the sun in the east, the name Easter, and the spring season are all connected.
According to the old legends, after Tammuz was slain, he descended into the underworld. But through the weeping of his “mother”, Ishtar (Easter), he was mystically revived in spring. Says Smith in Man and his Gods: “The resurrection of Tammuz through Ishtar’s grief was dramatically represented annually in order to insure the success of the crops and the fertility of the people. Each year, men and women had to grieve with Ishtar over the death of Tammuz and celebrate god’s return in order to win anew her favor and her benefits.” When the new vegetation began to come forth, those ancient people believed their “Savior ” had come from the underworld, had ended winter, and caused spring to begin. Even the Israelites adopted the doctrines and rites of the annual pagan spring festival, for Ezekiel speaks of “women weeping for Tammuz” (Eze 8:14).
As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead in reality – not merely in nature or the new vegetation of spring. Because his resurrection was in the spring of the year, it was not too difficult for the “church” of the fourth century (now having departed from the original faith in a number of ways) to merge the pagan spring festival into so-called Christianity. In speaking of this merger, the Encyclopedia Britannica says, “Christianity… incorporated in its celebration of the great Christian feast day many of the heathen rites and customs of the spring festival.”
Legend has it that Tammuz was killed by a wild boar when he was 40 years old. Hislop points out that 40 days – a day of each year Tammuz had lived on earth – were set aside to “weep for Tammuz”. In olden times, these forty days were observed with weeping, fasting, and self-chastisement, to gain anew his favor so he would come forth from the underworld and cause spring to begin.
This observance was not only known to Babylon, but also among the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Mexicans and, for a time, even among the Israelites. “Among the pagans,” says Hislop, “this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz.”
Having adopted other beliefs about the spring festival into the Roman church, it was a natural step in the development to also adopt the old “fast” that preceded the festival. The Catholic Encyclopedia very honestly points out that “writers in the fourth century were prone to describe many practices (e.g., the Lenten fast of 40 days) as of Apostolic institution which certainly had no claim to be so regarded.” It was not until the sixth century that the Pope officially ordered the observance of Lent, calling it a “sacred feast”, during which people were to abstain from meat and a few other foods.
Catholic scholars know and recognize that there are customs within their church that were borrowed from paganism. But they reason that many things, though originally pagan, can be “Christianized”. If some pagan tribe observed 40 days in honor of a pagan god, why should we not do the same, only in honor of Christ (false Christ)?
Though pagans worshipped the sun towards the east, could we not have sunrise services to honor the resurrection of Christ, even though this was not the time of day He rose? Even though the egg was used by pagans, can’t we continue its use and pretend that it symbolizes the large rock that was in front of the tomb? In other words, why not adopt all kinds of popular customs, only instead of using them to honor pagan gods, as the heathen did, use them to honor Christ?
It all sounds very logical, yet a much safer guideline is found in the Bible itself: “Take heed to thyself that thou not be snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying: How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done into their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto (Deut 12:30-32).”
It is obvious that the Easter celebration incorporated by the Roman church has nothing to do with the truth concerning the Lord Jesus Christ and the true church of the believers (saints).