Sunday, April 3, 2011

Yes, Virginia, Easter Really is a Christian Holiday

(I go into a bit of a tirade at times in this post. Sorry about that. Guess I'm feeling feisty.)

Some people enjoy spreading rumors that Easter and Christmas have their origins in Paganism. This is a load of donkey hee-haw. But because, once-upon-a-time, I embraced paganism, I have a hankering to clear up that myth. For now, I'll discuss Easter, because it's Lent. Next Advent we'll tackle Christmas.

Bede Manuscript
If we're going to find any pre-Christian roots for Easter, we must look at its Jewish links. The Last Supper was a Passover meal. (If you want to argue this point- first read this article at Catholicanswers.) Jesus rose on the Sunday following the Passover. (He might have risen Saturday night, but that still counts as Sunday by traditional Jewish reckoning.)

A word about the word Easter  (Here's where I clear up a misconception.)

I did our homework for both of us. You can cheat off me. Please read on! :)

Easter is not the original term for the Feast of the Resurrection of the Lord, which the Church calls Pascha, (a Greek word translated from the Hebrew -- Pesach). It come's from Old English (aka. Ango-Saxon).

Okay, check it out- people will tell you- both neo-pagans (and even some Christians) that Easter is named after a pagan Goddess. They'll even tell you that it used to be the feast of this goddess and that Christians took it over. This is NOT true. That's like saying the 4th of July celebration is named after Julius Caesar. (Because the month of July was named after Julius Caesar.) If that is true, we'd better be sure to always call these two celebrations Pascha and American Independence day, respectively. Wouldn't want anybody thinking all those fireworks, parades, and hotdogs are in honor of Julius Caesar!

hot dog
Anglo Saxon England worshipped a goddess, according to Saint Bede, named Eostre. They named their month of April after her. When they became Christian they started calling Pascha, Eostre (Easter), because that feast typically falls in that month. They were just saying something like "The April Feast." Simple as that. It's funny because Bede, a Christian, is the only source for this reference. (Read Bede's quote on the matter here  )

I'm sure the Old English people kept many of their old traditions (foods, ways of doing artwork and whatnot) when they became Christian, just as gentiles (and indeed Jews) all over the globe kept many of their ways when they converted to Christianity. So what? People who are anti-Christian sometimes read more into that than they should.

How to Calculate Easter

Now we turn to the math portion of our blog post. (Which also points to the fact that it's planned around a Jewish feast -Passover- not a pagan feast.) How does the Church calculate when Easter is to be celebrated? Go to the Spring Equinox (March 21). Now find the Paschal full moon -- the first full moon on or after the Spring Equinox. (This year it's April 17th). Now you must go to the following Sunday, because the Paschal full moon was a Sunday this year. (They never have Easter on the actual Paschal full moon, so you have to fly ahead a week.) Now you have found Easter- April 24th. 

Great job! :)  Next week maybe we'll talk about eggs, rabbits, and chocolate.

from "Wonders of the Night Sky"

((p.s. Don't let anyone give you no pucky about the Equinox being a pagan thing. It's a natural event like moon phases etc. that everyone: Jews, Gentiles, Christians were/are able to observe.))  *sorry for the mini-tirade

*Links to image sources embeded in image captions 


  1. Whoa there You made a leap in logic admitting that passover and three days happened before resurrection day, admitting that resurrection day is a month day, and supporting the continued profaning the sabbath, by jumping to a week day. If God were "changing the sabbath to Sunday", He would have said something about it in His word. Do your history, check out the council of Laodicea, where sabbath rest/worship was outlawed (death penalty), 300 years after Christ "Pascha" and Easter were merged by a emperor of Rome check out the council of Nicaea. These were councils of men not God.

  2. Acts 20:7 "On the first day of the week, when we gathered for the breaking of the bread, Paul preached to them..."
    1Cor16:2 "On the first day of each week everyone should put aside whatever he has been able to save, so that the collecton will not have to be take up after I arrive..."
    Col2:16 "No one is free, therefore to pass judgement on your in terms of what you eat or drink or what you do on yearly or monthly feasts, or on the sabbath. All these were but a shadow of things to come..."

    Anonymous, the meaning of your first sentence isn't clear to me, but I hope these Bible quotes clear up the matter of where the Catholic Church stands on Sunday worship.

  3. The actual wording of the council of Laodicea
    "Christians should not Judaize and should not be idle on the sabbath, but should work on that day; they should, however, particularly reverence the Lord's day and, if possible, not work on it, because they were Christians" (canon 29 [A.D. 355]).

    The councils issue these things to clear up matters when there begins to be an issue, not to proclaim any brand new statements.

    p.s. Doesn't sound to me like there were any death threats involved.

  4. Amanda You forgot the end "But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ." sounds like death to me. Also You quoted Paul in support of Sunday(baals day). Does Paul have more authority that God or His Word(Jesus)? My first sentence was addressing the fact that passover is a month day, not a weekday. Let me give You a example; lets say You were born on the 10th of June on Tuesday do You always celebrate Your birthday on Tuesday? The most documented date in the Bible is passover, when Jesus said "do this in rememberance of me" He was referring to passover, just find passover count three days and resurrection day! Jesus also said "call no man father, you have one Father in heaven".. Paul said " I have begotten You as children" making himself a "father" do You follow Paul or Christ?

  5. Anonymous, I feel pushed into new directions within the comments section where there isn't room for it all. The post was merely about Easter. Now we're discussing Sunday worship and the issue of calling no man father. But I'll go there with you a short ways. The meat of it should be taken care of in separate blog posts.

    "Anathema" means to separate someone from others, not to kill them. But I'm no expert. You might try asking an apologist on for more clarity on that point.

    Though Jesus observed the Sabbath, I'm sure you've noticed there are times that He broke the Sabbath laws. (Jn. 9:16, Jn 7:23, Mk. 3:4). The first Christians saw the Lord's Day Worship (Sunday) as a celebration of the Resurrection. You may go here if you need more before I post again abut it:

    On St. Paul~ I trust him as much as Jesus does. He tossed Paul to the ground, blinded him, gave him back his sight, and sent him to make Christians. Jesus knows what He's doing. So, I wouldn't toss out what Paul says. And he was humble. In 1 Cor 1:12 he chided people for glamorizing him and for dividing saying I am for Paul or for Cephas, etc. He was for Church unity under Christ. Amen to that! :)

    On the "Call no man father" issue: Do you call the man married to your mother, "father?" If you're taking this passage literally, you can't do that. Jesus was using hyperbole to make a point. God in Heaven is the ultimate Father, Master, and Teacher. (He also said, "but you are not to be called rabbi, for your have one teacher...")And yet I'm sure you call some people, "teacher" or "doctor," which is the Latin word for "teacher." And he even sent out his followers to teach all nations. So, they were "teachers."

    I'm not going into detail in comments, but there are many examples in the Old and New Testament to support the case. You may see this article if you wish to read more:

  6. Amanda
    Jesus didn't break the Sabbath, He broke the Oral tradition of the law. We have that today in the Talmud, have You read that? I started on the one about the sabbath, and I couldn't go too far, it made me sick, worse than the tax code. No wonder telling a man to stretch forth his hand they considered work. No wonder Jesus rebuked their traditions. Paul was a Pharisee brought up by Gamaliel in this oral law, when He said let no man judge you on your Sabbaths, I prefer to think he was referring to the things he believed before his conversion. By the way, even though they were doing great in the world, Jesus mentions in His letter(in a book of prophecies,hint), nothing good about Laodicea's church, and according to their council He would have been anathema from everyone He knew, even his own mom, and God, who created every thing in 6 days and rested on the 7th and hallowed it, whoa.. separating God from His Word? Amanda, the Bible explains itself, Jesus said the Hebrew scriptures,and the Law and the prophets they testify of me, not

  7. You have a lot to say and this is just the comment section of a small post. I'd love a link to your blog if you have one. And I'm happy to entertain comments the next time they pertain to future posts. I need to stay somewhat on topic, you understand. :)

  8. Good explanation given as to why Easter does not have origins in paganism. I haven't studied much on this matter. Thanks for posting on this.

  9. Thanks Teresa! And You're welcome. I love doing the research and figured others might be interested. Have a blessed Holy Week and a Happy Easter/Pascha! :)