Promises and Secrets

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Cute bunnies, eggs, chickens, and baskets; what in the world do these have to do with Resurrection Sunday? Even the name "Easter" has nothing to do with Jesus!


Easter is celebrated every year by recognizing an association between bunnies and eggs.


Well, here it is, January 13, and today we received a little sales booklet in the mail called Oriental Trading. "Oh, great!", I thought. Now the Asian countries are getting in on the "make money off of Easter" act. But, sadly, I was wrong again. This little jewel is from a company based in Omaha, Nebraska. The theme of the booklet is "Holy Week Fun & Faith", and the front is covered with Easter Eggs with crosses, the Icthus symbol of the fish with Jesus' name inside. All these items are inside and surrounding an easter basket next to mats with images of the Resurrection, doves, angels, and crosses.

How could anyone question the sincerity of the children inside holding up their favorite "Holy Week" symbols and valentine hearts? All these warm and fuzzy feelings are generated by the happy people mixing the worship of our Lord with the symbols of paganism - exactly what God said not to do over and over in the Bible (Deuteronomy 12:4,30-31
4 You must not worship the LORD your God in their way. (Deut 12:4)

30 and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, "How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same." 31 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods. (Deut 12:30-31)

and Jeremiah 10:2
2 This is what the LORD says: "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them.

). Just what do we think He meant by the warnings?

Where did the name "Easter" come from?

While many of the articles about the origin of the word "Easter" start out, "Some say that...", if you keep reading, and searching other articles, you will find that they all settle on the fertility-goddess idea. Then they refer to the very fertile rabbits and the result of fertility, the egg. Regardless of the actual origin of the word, if you look on the surface of the celebrations on Easter Sunday, you do not see Christ. Some make a link between the Resurrection and the egg by mentioning that the chick breaks out of the egg (without dying) and rises up. What does this have to do with Christ and his conquering of death? How misleading is it for the children regarding the meaning of Resurrection Day?

What is Easter "supposed" to mean?

Resurrection Day is the first day after the Sabbath following Passover. The time of the resurrection was sometime between sundown on the Sabbath (Saturday evening) and the dawn of the first day of the week following the start of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This "Sunday" is also the first day of the period of weeks leading up to Pentecost. Easter does not always fall on this day, in fact it rarely does, but has a schedule that coincides with the pagan fertility celebration and the Spring Equinox, hence the reference to the rabbits, eggs, and even chickens.

According to Got Questions:

The origins of Easter are rooted in European traditions. The name Easter comes from a pagan figure called Eastre (or Eostre) who was celebrated as the goddess of spring by the Saxons of Northern Europe. A festival called Eastre was held during the spring equinox by these people to honor her.

"Wait, we got that wrong..."

However, about a year later I went back to the site and they had changed their statement to:

The origins of Easter are obscure. It is often assumed that the name Easter comes from a pagan figure called Eastre (or Eostre) who was celebrated as the goddess of spring by the Saxons of Northern Europe. According to the theory, Eastre was the "goddess of the east (from where the sun rises)," her symbol was the hare (a symbol of fertility), and a festival called Eastre was held during the spring equinox by the Saxons to honor her. This theory on the origin of Easter is highly problematic, however.

The major problem with associating the origin of Easter with the pagan goddess Eastre/Eostre is that we have no hard evidence that such a goddess was ever worshiped by anyone, anywhere. The only mention of Eastre comes from a passing reference in the writings of the Venerable Bede, an eighth-century monk and historian. Bede wrote, "Eosturmononath has a name which is now translated as 'Paschal month,' and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honor feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate the Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance" (De Temporum Ratione). And that's it. Eostre is not mentioned in any other ancient writing; we have found no shrines, no altars, nothing to document the worship of Eastre. It is possible that Bede simply extrapolated the name of the goddess from the name of the month.

In the nineteenth century, the German folklorist Jakob Grimm researched the origins of the German name for Easter, Ostern, which in Old High German was Ostara. Both words are related to the German word for "east," ost. Grimm, while admitting that he could find no solid link between Easter and pagan celebrations, made the assumption that Ostara was probably the name of a German goddess. Like Eastre, the goddess Ostara was based entirely on supposition and conjecture; before Grimm's Deustche Mythologie (1835), there was no mention of the goddess in any writings.

So, while the word Easter most likely comes from an old word for "east" or the name of a springtime month, we don't have much evidence that suggests anything more. Assertions that Easter is pagan or that Christians have appropriated a goddess-holiday are untenable. Today, however, it seems that Easter might as well have pagan origins, since it has been almost completely commercialized - the world's focus is on Easter eggs, Easter candy, and the Easter bunny.

Christians celebrate Easter as the resurrection of Christ on the third day after His crucifixion. It is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important day of the church year because of the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the events upon which Christianity is based (1 Corinthians 15:14). In some Christian traditions, Easter Sunday is preceded by the season of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and repentance culminating in Holy Week and followed by a 50-day Easter season that stretches from Easter to Pentecost.

Because of the commercialization and possible pagan origins of Easter, many churches prefer to call it "Resurrection Sunday." The rationale is that, the more we focus on Christ and His work on our behalf, the better. Paul says that without the resurrection of Christ our faith is futile (1 Corinthians 15:17). What more wonderful reason could we have to celebrate! Whether we call it "Easter" or "Resurrection Sunday," what is important is the reason for our celebration, which is that Christ is alive, making it possible for us to have eternal life (Romans 6:4)!

Should we celebrate Easter or allow our children to go on Easter egg hunts? This is a question both parents and church leaders struggle with. Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of conscience (Romans 14:5). There is nothing essentially evil about painting and hiding eggs and having children search for them. What is important is our focus. If our focus is on Christ, our children can be taught to understand that the eggs are just a fun game. Children should know the true meaning of the day, and parents and the church have a responsibility to teach the true meaning. In the end, participation in Easter egg hunts and other secular traditions must be left up to the discretion of parents.

Evidently they either got their research wrong the first time, or got too much pressure from the "parents and church leaders" they mention in their article. A search for another reference using the term "Easter Origins" found over 1 million sites topped by Christian Answers, which proclaimed:

The origins of Easter are rooted in European traditions. The name Easter comes from a pagan figure called Eastre (or Eostre) who was celebrated as the goddess of spring by the Saxons of Northern Europe. A festival called Eastre was held during the spring equinox by these people to honor her.

Compare this to the box listed above under Got Questions above after the second paragraph.

Long, long ago it started

A little more research reveals that this practice of Easter worship started about the time of the tower of Babel, and became a regular practice for followers of Nimrod. At his death, his wife changed things a bit, but the basic pagan worship he started has survived. We see the signs of it today as Easter. Compare this to the second paragraph in the "correction" box (the large one) above. Is this a fact, or are they just trying to link it with the Jewish Passover (Pascha)? And why all the references to bunnies and eggs? That is certainly not Biblical and has nothing to do with the resurrection of Christ.

"We're just trying to fix it..."

Some even go so far as to say that they are "Christianizing" the pagan holidays by using them for leading people to Christ. Well, how in the world does observing Easter in the year 2016 on March 27 do that? What is my point? We say that we only keep Easter to observe the resurrection and have communion services to recognize His sacrifice for us. The original communion service was held during the week prior to resurrection Sunday on the day called Pascha or Passover. This year (2016), that day is April 22.

How is holding a day celebrating the fertility of rabbits and eggs an entire month before the actual season connected in any way to Christ's sacrifice for us? We are not only celebrating a holiday God did not ask us to celebrate, but we are doing it the way the pagans do which God specifically forbids in Deuteronomy 12:4,30-32
4 You must not worship the LORD your God in their way.

30 beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?' 31 "You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.
32 Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it."
and Jeremiah 10:2
2 This is what the LORD says: "Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them."

. Also, we are not even trying to celebrate the holiday God did give us when God said it should happen.

What would...

Now, it seems to me that the final test of this matter would be the question that every Christian thinks reveals the final word on any matter. Usually the question reveals only what the person asking really wants to do, but let's give it a try. Easter is named after a pagan goddess, is held on a day not related to the Passover, celebrates the antithesis of the meaning of the Resurrection and salvation, and is a perfect example of worshiping our God in the manner of the pagans (which He told us never to do). The question? What would Jesus do? (Even the question allows us to state what we think He would do because - who is actually going to answer the question?) Would Jesus celebrate Easter?

"O.K., let's make up one."

If you think this is a silly concept that means nothing because what we celebrate means more than the real meaning of the day, what do you think people would say if someone had made up another day for the celebration of Christmas? Think of an event that repulses you, we'll call it "Satan's Day". Perhaps someone close to you died that day or a horrible crime or massacre was committed that day. What would happen if someone had said "Let's use Satan's Day for Christmas day." Or even, "Let's use celebrate the rising of our Lord on Satan's Day!"

Yeah, yeah, but what would you say? It's not as though the day happened to fall on that day, but the day was specifically chosen so we would remember both events on the same day. Would you then say it makes no difference why the day was chosen? Of course you wouldn't. The point is, God has chosen certain days to celebrate certain things. When we make up our own, we are stating what we think is important is more important than what God thinks.

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