The Truth About Easter
The Origin of Easter
The name “Easter” is believed to have derived from the Old English word “ēastre” or “ēostre,” which is related to the Old High German “ōstara.” These words are connected to the name of a pagan goddess named Eostre or Ostara, who was associated with springtime, fertility, and the dawn. The festival honoring this goddess was celebrated during the spring equinox.
As Christianity spread throughout Europe, it was common for early Christians to adopt and adapt local pagan customs and celebrations to help make the new religion more familiar and acceptable to converts. The Christian observance of Easter was likely influenced by these pre-existing pagan customs and eventually became the central Christian celebration it is today.
The Origin of Easter Symbols
Easter eggs: The egg has long been a symbol of new life and fertility across various cultures, predating Christianity. In pagan celebrations of spring, eggs were often painted and exchanged as gifts. The egg’s association with new life and rebirth made it an appropriate symbol to incorporate into the Christian celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.
Easter bunny: The hare or rabbit was a symbol of fertility in many pagan traditions due to their high reproductive rate. The Germanic goddess Eostre or Ostara, associated with the spring equinox, was sometimes depicted with hares as her companions. German immigrants brought the tradition of the “Osterhase” or “Easter Hare” to the United States, where it eventually evolved into the Easter Bunny known today.
Acts 12:4 KJV 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.
- The word “Easter” is “pascha.” This Greek word is translated correctly 28 times as “Passover.”
Deuteronomy 12:29-32 NIV When the Lord your God has destroyed before you the nations you are about to enter and dispossess, and when he has driven them out before you, do not get caught up in the way they worship their gods. Do not even inquire about their gods, saying, “How did these nations worship their gods? I’ll also do the same.” (30) You must not worship the Lord your God in their way because they practice for their gods every detestable thing the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods. (31) You must be careful to do everything I command you; do not add anything to it or take anything away from it.
- God commands us that we do not add anything or take anything away from His word!
Leviticus 23:4-8 NRSV These are the appointed festivals of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall celebrate at the time appointed for them. (5) In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, there shall be a Passover offering to the Lord, (6) and on the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. (7) On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not work at your occupations. (8) For seven days you shall present the Lord’s offerings by fire; on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation: you shall not work at your occupations.
- God lays out in His word what holidays He wants His people to celebrate.
Jeremiah 10:2 KJV Thus says the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
Sources That Prove the Pagan Origins of Easter
- Bede, “De temporum ratione,” translated by Faith Wallis as “The Reckoning of Time” (Liverpool University Press, 1999). In this 8th-century work, the Venerable Bede, an English monk and scholar, discusses the connection between the word “Easter” and the goddess Eostre.
- Jakob Grimm, “Deutsche Mythologie” (1835), translated by James Stallybrass as “Teutonic Mythology” (Dover Publications, 1966). This foundational work on Germanic mythology delves into the origins of various customs and beliefs, including those related to Easter and the goddess Ostara.
- Ronald Hutton, “Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain” (Oxford University Press, 1996). This book provides a comprehensive look at the history of British seasonal festivals, including Easter and its pre-Christian antecedents.
- Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick, “A History of Pagan Europe” (Routledge, 1995). This book offers an overview of the religious history of Europe, from the pre-Christian era to the present, with discussions on the origins of various customs and celebrations, including Easter.
- Joanne E. Tripp, “Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions” (Merriam-Webster, 1999). This encyclopedia provides information on the world’s major religions, including Christianity, and discusses the origins and customs of various religious holidays, such as Easter.