THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “EASTER” AND THE RESURRECTION.
“Comes down to a man dying on a cross
Saving the world
Rising from the dead
Doing what He said He would do “(Clay Crosse-Saving the World)
“Why can’t you see me
I tried to catch a glimpse of you
but all I found was an empty tomb
I am so near to you
How was I to understand
That you were God and you were man
What more can I do or say…
The stone was rolled away” (Three Crosses-the Stone was Rolled Away)
I’ve been intrigued how the pagan customs and celebrations have been merged with the sacred and holy. Many churches have opened the door and embraced the secular celebrations to the point that the sacred gets lost in the shuffle. I used to join in the ‘fun’ and celebrate with the best of them. It never bothered me much until I began to research the truth. It is not uncommon to find the secular, during the holiday seasons, Santa, Easter Bunny, eggs, etc., adorning the insides of our houses of worship right along with the altar and symbols of the cross.
When did It has become acceptable to give the Easter Bunny the same spotlight as Jesus?
When I began teaching the truth within the student ministries I was a part of, I was surprised by the amount of resistance I met from fellow church members who strongly defended the bunny. I once led a study on Sunday night, using the very same info I am sharing here, to teach adults what the history of Easter is about, only to find a few of them making jokes and getting a good laugh at my expense.
Like anything we practice in church, I want to know the history of these practices and traditions. I want to know what the Scripture says about them. I want to know if they are ‘harmless’ or if there is potential dangers involved. I want to know if it is something I need to be a part of or stay away from.
“And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” Ezekiel 44:23
I want to start out by saying, Easter is not the same thing as the resurrection of Jesus. These are two very different events.
The resurrection of Jesus is the single most important event in human history. The resurrection splits time, BC(Before Christ) and Anno Domini-AD(After Death). The resurrection is what separates Jesus from all the others that said they were the Messiah, a god or prophet. Jesus rose from the dead, defeated the grave and won the victory over sin and Satan. All the others are worm food buried in the graves they were placed in at their death.
I want to take a few paragraphs to give you some background on the rabbit, eggs, the name ‘Easter’ and a few other traditions that are celebrated this time of year. (The following information has been gathered over the past several years from various sources. Internet and books both Christian and secular)
The pagan year is divided into four periods for celebration: Autumnal Equinox [fall], Winter Solstice [midwinter], Vernal Equinox [spring], Summer Solstice [midsummer]. The Vernal Equinox is the day (or period of days) in the spring when the days and nights are again approximately equal in length. ‘Easter’ falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon that appears after Vernal Equinox . According to this timeline, Easter always falls between March 22 & April 25.
Of all the Christian ‘holy days’ that are celebrated as ‘holidays’ the only one with any real validity in Scriptures in terms of origin and time of year, is what we call Easter. FYI…December 25 is not Jesus’ birthday.
For the early pagans the Vernal Equinox is a time of celebrating new life, the resurrection of nature from the dead, and typically featured fertility rites that usually centers on sexual activities. In ancient times there were the sacrificing of virgins, the worship of fertility gods and goddesses and the worship of many sexually suggestive symbols and shrines. And many of these practices continue today.
‘Mardi Gras’ and Rio de Janeiro’s ‘Carnival’ take place in the spring. Both of these celebrations have an emphasis on sexual fertility and blatant sexual aspects when “all the rules are off”. And on a more local scale, the “Easter Dance” or “Spring Prom” found in many high schools today can be traced back to these pagan origins.
So what did Jesus and his disciples celebrate? Jesus celebrated the “Passover”. The Passover celebration lasted 8 days. The Passover is the commemorative feast in memory of the passing over of the angel of death for those homes “under the blood of the lamb”.(Found in Exodus) There was only one Passover and that was the original one that took place with Moses and the Israelites found in the book of Exodus. All other ‘Passover’s’ are celebrated to remember the original. The Passover is the oldest continually observed feast in the history of mankind. The early Christians continued to celebrate the Passover after Jesus’ death, burial & resurrection. It was during the Passover that Jesus instituted the ‘Lord’s Supper’ or ‘Communion’.
So how did we get from the Passover Lamb to Easter Rabbit? Since the Resurrection took place in the spring (the Hebrew month Nissan), and since the pagans had for many centuries been celebrating new life, fertility every spring (vernal equinox) the old pagan practices eased their way into this part of the life of the Church. There was no Easter celebration, as such, in the Church in those early centuries. But the springtime activities of paganism began to attach themselves to the annual time of the Passover, and slowly Easter grew, being finally embraced by the Church as an annual celebration of the Resurrection.
The name “Easter” has pagan origins…
The name is from the festival of Oestre (sometimes spelled “Estre”). German pagans named the Spring equinox after Oestre, their goddess of spring, fertility & rebirth. In England, among the Anglo-Saxon tribes, Oestre was known as ‘Eostre’. According to the myths. Eostre was a playful goddess whose reign over the earth began in the spring when the Sun King journeyed across the sky in his chariot, bringing the end of winter. Eostre came to earth then, appearing as a beautiful maiden with a basket of bright colorful eggs…and her magical companion was a rabbit. Ah yes, the magical bunny and the colored eggs …
Over time & translation ‘Eostre time’ became ‘Easter time’. The Latin name ‘Oestre’ has it’s roots from the word that means ‘frenzy’. Also our word ‘estrus’, which means, ‘a female mammal in heat’ comes from the same root word.
Which came first? The rabbit or the egg?…The rabbit is one of the oldest symbols of spring. The rabbit is the most fertile animal known to man. Since ancient times, pagans have worshipped rabbits as sex and fertility gods, and have looked upon them as symbols of lust & reproduction. The legend of the “Easter bunny” originated in Germany in the 1500’s. Children believed that the Easter bunny would leave them a nest of colored eggs if they were good.
There is a story about a great bird that wants to be a rabbit. The goddess Oestre graciously turns the bird into a rabbit and the rabbit/bird could still lay eggs and would come every spring and lay eggs for Oestre to show his gratitude.
For centuries the egg has been a symbol of fertility & rebirth for many cultures. The pagan gods Re[Egypt], Brama[India] and P’an Ku[China] all were said to have been born from eggs. There is also the Orphic legend that has the Earth being hatched from an enormous egg.
In a broad range of societies, brightly decorated eggs are presented as gifts & charms to bring supernatural fertility and sexual success each spring. Over the centuries the egg has represented mystery, magic, medicine, food and omen. Roman women carried an egg on their person to foretell the sex of their unborn children. French brides stepped upon an egg before crossing the threshold of their new homes. The Druids dyed eggs scarlet to honor the sun. Pagan Anglo-Saxons made offerings to Ostre with colored eggs. They also placed eggs in tombs or on fresh graves, to ensure the rebirth of the deceased. That’s kinda weird! What will they come back as chicken or human?
So eventually it had to happen. Somebody had to mingle the two. Old Polish legends blended folklore with Christian beliefs. One legend tells that Mary (Jesus’ mother) gave eggs to the soldiers at the cross. She begged them to be less cruel to Jesus and as she wept, her tears fell upon the eggs spotting them with dots of brilliant color. Another Polish legend said Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, she just happened to be carrying a basket of eggs. When she arrived at the tomb and uncovered the eggs, the pure white eggs had miraculously taken on a rainbow of colors!!! WOW!
One legend (source unknown) says that a rabbit was the first creature to see Jesus when He left the tomb. One question. Who talked to the rabbit to find this out???
Other tradition tidbits: The Easter basket came from the 1500’s where German children would make ‘nests’ out of their hats & bonnets so the Easter bunny could leave them gifts.
Flowers such as the lily played a major part in decorations during spring festivals.
The Easter parade was a custom where people dressed up in their new spring clothes and paraded up and down the streets saying hello to friends & show off a bit. The Easter parade is not as common as it was years ago. The parades have been replaced with commercialized parades & department store Easter sales.
As children of God, I believe we need to ask ourselves these questions: Does it bring glory to God? What is our motivation for practicing what we do? Do Jesus and or his disciples give examples in the Scripture of practicing these kinds of celebrations and traditions? What does God’s word say about such things? Can these things be used to reach the lost?
Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy & pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Galatians 4:8-11 “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God-or rather are know by God-how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.”
“Easter” is not the same thing as the Resurrection of Jesus. They are two very different events.
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you while he was still with you in Galilee: The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again. Then they remembered his words.” Luke 24:5-8
The resurrection of Jesus has nothing to do with rabbits, eggs new clothes and shoes. The Bible tells us that we all are dead because of our sins. The good news is you don’t have to stay dead! Jesus died for your sins, so you can live with Him forever. Jesus didn’t stay in the grave, He’s alive just like the Bible says. Nobody else did that! His resurrection makes it possible for us to be ‘alive again’.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come quickly and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He is risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. Now I have told you.” Matthew 28:5-7