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Easter Traditions
The internet has an abundant supply of websites to go to find out (1) the origin of Easter, (2) how to date Easter,(3) the traditions associated with Easter, and (4) its association with Passover. Anything appearing here without a direct reference noted comes off the internet when using a search engine, with Sacred Names used in place of pagan ones.
The Name Easter
From an article by Larry Boemler “Asterah and Easter,” Biblical Archaeology Review, Vol. 18, Number 3, 1992 – May/June, the following appeared:
   “The name “Easter” originated with the names of an ancient Goddess and God. The Venerable Bede (672-735 CE.), a Christian scholar, first asserted in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Similarity, The “Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility [was] known variously as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Astron and Ausos.” Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring: “eastre.” Similar Goddesses were known by other names in ancient cultures around the Mediterranean, and were celebrated in the springtime. Some were:
         1. Aphrodite from ancient Cyprus,
         2. Ashtoreth from ancient Israel,
         3. Astarte from ancient Greece,
         4. Demeter from Mycenae,
         5. Hathor from ancient Egypt,
         6. Ishtar from Assyria,
         7. Kali from India, and
         8. Ostara a Norse Goddess of fertility.
   An alternate explanation has been suggested. The name given by the Frankish church to [Yahshua’s] resurrection festival included the Latin word “alba” which means “white.” (This was as reference to the white robes that were worn during the festival.)
Pagan Origins of Easter
Many, perhaps most, pagan religions in the Mediterranean area had a major seasonal day of religious celebration at or following the spring equinox. Cybele, the Phrygian fertility goddess, had a fictional consort who was believed to have been born via a virgin birth. He was Attis, who was believed to have died and been resurrected each year during the period March 22 to March 25. “About 200 B.C. mystery clubs began to appear in Rome just as they had earlier in Greece. Most notable was the Cybele cult centered on Vatican hill …Associated with the Cybele cult was that of her lover, Attis (the older Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus, or Orpheus under a new name). He was a god of every-reviving vegetation. Born of a virgin, he died and was reborn annually. The festival began as a day of blood on black Friday and culminated after three days in a day of rejoicing over the resurrection.” (Gerald L. Berry, “Religions of the World,” Barns & Noble, (1956).)
    Wherever Christian worship of our Savior and pagan worship of Attis were active in the same geographical area in ancient times, Christians “used to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Savior on the same date and pagans and Christians used to quarrel bitterly about which of their gods was the true prototype and which the imitation.”
    Many religious historians believe that the death and resurrection legends were first associated with Attis, many centuries before the birth of [Yahshua]. They were simply grafted onto stories of [Yahshua’s] life in order to make Christian theology more acceptable to pagans. Others suggest that many of the events of [Yahshua’s] life that were recorded in the gospels were lifted from the life of Krishna, the second person of the Hindu trinity. Ancient Christians have an alternative explanation; they claimed that Satan had created counterfeit deities in advance of the coming of [the Messiah] in order to confuse humanity. (J. Farrar & S. Farrar, “Eight Sabbats for Witches,” Phoenix, Custer, WA, (1988).) Modern-day Christians generally regard the Attis legend as being a pagan myth of little value. They regard [Yahshua’s] death and resurrection account as being true, and unrelated to the earlier tradition.
Spring Equinox, Pagan Celebrations and Easter
Since the worship of the before mentioned Cybele, the Phrygian fertility goddess, was brought to Rome in 204 BCE, about 250 years before Christianity, it is obvious that if any copying occurred, it was the Christians that copied the traditions of the pagans.
    Among the Roman Catholic church and Protestant denominations, Easter Sunday falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 20, the nominal date of the Spring Equinox. Its ancient linkages to sun and moon worship are obvious. Many sources incorrectly state that the starting date of the calculation is the actual day of the Equinox rather than the nominal date of March 20. Other sources use an incorrect reference date of March 21. Easter Sunday can fall on any date from March 22 to April 25.
    The year-to-year sequence is so complicated that it takes 5.7 million years to repeat. Eastern Orthodox churches sometimes celebrate Easter on the same day as the Roman Catholic and Protestants. However, if that date does not follow Passover, then the Orthodox churches delay their Easter – sometimes by over a month.
Ancient and Modern Spring Celebrations
Ancient Britain

Both the solstices and equinoxes “were the highly sophisticated preoccupation of the mysterious Megalithyic peoples who pre-dated Celt, Roman and Saxon on Europe’s Atlantic fringe by thousands of years.” The equinoxes were not otherwise celebrated in ancient Britain until recent years.
Ancient Ireland
The spring and fall equinox were celebrated in ancient times. A cluster of megalithic cairns are scattered through the hills at Loughcrew, about 55 miles northwest of Dublin in Ireland. Lougchew Carin T is a passage tomb which is designated so that the light from the rising sun on the spring and summer equinoxes penetrates a long corridor and illuminates a backstone, which is decorated with astronomical symbols.
Ancient Germans
Ostara, the Germanic fertility Goddess, was associated with human and crop fertility. On the spring equinox, she mated with the solar god and conceived a child that would be born 9 months later on Dec 21: Yule, the winter solstice.
Ancient Mayans
The indigenous Mayan people in Central America have celebrated a spring equinox festival for ten centuries. As the sun sets on the day of the equinox on the great ceremonial pyramid, El Castillo, Mexico, its “western face…is bathed in the late afternoon sunlight. The lengthening shadows appear to run from the top of the pyramid’s northern starcase to the bottom, giving the illusion of a diamond backed snake in descent.” This has been called “The return of the Sun Serpent” since ancient times.
Ancient Greeks
The god-man Dionysos was a major deity among the ancient Greeks. “As a god of the spring rites, of the flowering plants and fruitful vines, Dionysos was said to be in terrible pain during winter, when most living things sicken and die, or hibernate.” Persephone, a daughter of Demeter, descended into the Otherworld and returned near the time of the spring equinox. This story has close parallels to various Goddess legends, stories of the life of King Arthur, and of [Yahshua Messiah].
Ancient Persia
ZOROASTRIANISM: Various ancient civilizations (Mesopotamia, Sumeria, Babylonia, Elam) circa 3000 to 2000 BCE celebrated new years at the time of the spring equinox. “No Rus,” the new day or New Year has been celebrated in the area of modernday Iran since the Achaemenian (Hakhamaneshi) period over 2500 years ago. It survived because of Zoroastrianism which was the religion of Ancient Persia before the advent of Islam 1400 years ago. Many religious historians trace the Judeo-Christian concepts of Hell, Heaven, Resurrection, the arrival of the Messiah, and the last judgment to Zoroastrianism. In that faith, the “Lord of Wisdom created all that was good and became God. The Hostile Spirit, Angra Mainyu (Ahriman), residing in the eternal darkness created all that was bad and became the Hostile Spirit.” This dualistic God/Satan concept is surprisingly close to the views of conservative Christianity today.
Ancient Romans
In “about 200 B.C., mystery cults began to appear in Rome just as they had earlier in Greece. Most notable was the Cybele cult centered on Vatican hill…Associated with the Cybele cult was that of her lover, Attis (the older Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus, or Orpheus under a new name)…The festival began as a day of blood on Black Friday and culminated after three days in a day of rejoicing over the resurrection.” Attis was born of a human woman, a virgin named Nana. He “grew up to become a sacrificial victim and Savior, slain to bring salvation to mankind. His body was eaten by his worshipers in the form of bread…[He was] crucified on a pine tree, whence his hold blood poured down to redeem the earth.” (B. G. Walker, “The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets,” Harper & Row, San Francisco DA (1983), pages 77 to 79.) The celebration was held on Mar 25, 9 months before his birth on
Dec 25. In Rome, the rituals took place where St. Peter’s now stands in Vatican City. (Janet & Stewart Farrar, “Eight Sabbats for Witches,” Phoenix Publishing, (1981), page 14; pages 72 to 79.) The similarities between the stories of Attis and [Yahshua] are obvious.
Ancient Saxons
Eostre was the Saxon version of the Germanic lunar goddess Ostara. She gave her name to the Christian Easter and to the female hormone estrogen. Her feast day was held on the full moon following the vernal equinox – almost the identical calculation as for the Christian Easter in the west. One delightful legend associated with Eostre was that she found an injured bird on the ground one winter. To save its life, she transformed it into a hare. But “the transformation was not a complete one. The bird took the appearance of a hare but retained the ability to lay eggs. …the hare would decorate these eggs and leave them as gifts to Eostre.”
Baha’I Faith
Naw-Ruz is an ancient Iranian New years day festival which occurs near the Spring Equinox. It is now a world holiday of the Baha’i faith. If the equinox occurs before sunset, then New Year’s Day is celebrated on that day in the Middle East; otherwise it is delayed until the following day. In the rest of the world, it is always on Mar-21. It is celebrated with many symbols indicating regrowth and renewal – much like the Christian Easter.
The record of the Roman Army’s execution date of [Yahshua] of Nazareth (later known has Jesus Christ) has been lost. Dates linked to the Jewish Passover celebration in the years 29 to 33 CE have been suggested. Easter commemorates [Yahshua’s] execution, vist to Hell, and resurrection. Easter Sunday is a moveable holy day, being celebrated from late March to late April. It is named after the “Teutonic goddess Eostre, whose name is probably yet another variant of Istar, Astare and Aset…” (Janet and Stewart Farrar, “Eight Sabbats for Witches,” Phoenix Publishing, (1981), page 14; pages 72 to 79.)
“In its origin, the Passover dinner itself was a spring fertility festival – the unleavened bread coming from the agricultural past of the people and the paschal lamb from its more distant pastoral years.”
Easter Traditions
Traditions associated with the festival survive in the Easter rabbit, a symbol of fertility, and in colored Easter eggs, originally painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring and used in Easter egg rolling contests or given as gifts.
    The Christian celebration of Easter embodies a number of traditions with emphasis on the relation of Easter tothe Jewish festival of Passover, or Pesach, from which is derived Pasch, another name used by Europeans for Easter. After Passover is an important feast in the Jewish calendar, which is celebrated for 7 days and commemorates the flight and freedom of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
Easter is observed by the churches of the West on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or following the spring equinox (March 2I). So Easter became a ‘movable’ feast, which can occur as early as March 22 or as late as April 25.
    Christian churches in the East, which were closer to the birthplace of the new religion and in which old traditions were strong, observe Easter according to the date of the Passover festival.
    Easter is at the end of the Lenten season, which covers a forty-six-day period that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter. The Lenten season itself comprises forty days, as the six Sundays in Lent are not actually a part of Lent. Sundays are considered a commemoration of Easter Sunday and have always been excluded from the Lenten fast. The Lenten season is a period of penitence in preparation for the highest festival of the church year, Easter Holy Week, the last week of Lent, which begins with the observance of Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday takes its name from Yahshua’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where the crowds laid the branches from palm trees at His feet. Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, which was held the evening before the Crucifixion. Friday, in the Holy Week, is the anniversary of the Crucifixion, the day that the Messiah was crucified and died on the [stake].
    Christian tradition indicate that the Holy week and the Lenten season end with Easter Sunday, the day celebrated as the resurrection of Messiah Yahshua.
    One big question needs to be answered: “Does the Bible instruct us to observe Ash Wednesday, the fortysix days of Lent, Holy Week, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday?” Are these days spoken of in the Bible as days of religious worship by Yahweh’s people? Or, are these days and events borrowed from springtime pagan events that Yahweh actually condemns in the Bible? Read on!!!
Easter Eggs
While the gaily-colored cardboard ones and rich chocolate ones that some enjoy are quite recent in origin, the real egg, decorated with colors or gilt, has been acknowledged as a symbol of continuing life and resurrection since pre-Christian spring celebrations.
    “History records that eggs were given as gifts by the ancient Greeks, Persians, and Chinese at their spring festivals. The egg also appears in pagan mythology, where we read of the SunBird being hatched from the World Egg. In some pagan customs the Heaven and Earth were thought to have been formed from two halves of an egg. As the egg was an obvious symbol to early Christians of [Yahshua’s] resurrection, it was felt to be a most appropriate and holy part of the Eastertide celebration. Even as early as the Middle Ages, eggs were colored to be given as gifts at Easter. In the 17th century, Pope Paul V blessed the humble egg in a prayer to be used in England, Scotland, and Ireland: ‘Bless, O L-rd, we beseech Thee, this Thy creature of eggs, that it may become a wholesome sustenance to Thy faithful servants, eating in thankfulness to Thee, on account of the Resurrection of Our L-rd.’ Forbidden during the solemn fast of Lent, eggs were reintroduced on Easter Sunday, both as part of the feasting and as gifts for family, friends, and servants.” (Anonymous 1913)
    We now hear of many accounts where notable figures have introduced having annual Easteregg hunts, where children scramble to get as many colored eggs as possible to gain some insignificant prize.
Hot Cross Buns
On the first day of Lent, and during the six weeks that follow, many bakeries and homes bake hot cross buns. They are generally only served during the Lenten season, preserving their Christian significance. Yet, they are probably the outgrowth of the ancient pagan sacramental cakes eaten by Anglo-Saxons in honor of their goddess “Eastore.” Supposedly, the early clergy tried to stop the use of the sacramental cakes but as they could not, they gave them Christian meaning by blessing them and decorating them with the cross. The Italian Tortona is a twist of dough baked around a colored egg. Similar breads are found in many other countries.
Easter Bunnies
“As one of the nation’s largest ethnic group, German Americans have deeply influenced the culture of the United States. Many examples of this influence are now considered basic ingredients of American life. The celebration of Christmas in the United States, for example, reflects German Christmas customs. German Americans introduced Christmas trees and gift giving. A German American artist, Thomas Nast, created the traditional image of Santa Claus. German Americans also introduced the Easter Bunny.” (“German Americans”, Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000)
Easter Bonfires
“In ancient Greece the deities of the sun were Helios and Apollo. The worship of Helios was widespread; temples were built in Corinth, Árgos, Troezen (no longer in existence), and many other cities, but the principal seat was on the island of Rhodes, in the Dodecanese, where four white horses were sacrificed annually to the god. A similar sacrifice was offered on the summit of Mount Hagios Elias, in the Taïyetos Mountains, in Laconia. In time virtually all the functions of Helios were transferred to the god Apollo, in his identity as Phoebus. Sun worship persisted in Europe even after the introduction of Christianity, as is evidenced by its disguised survival in such traditional Christian practices as the Easter bonfire and the Yule log on Christmas.” (“Sun Worship”, Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000)
What Say You?
Now that you have read many ideas concerning the false and pagan background of celebrating Easter, are you willing to believe the Scriptures and follow the truths given to us in those Scriptures? Study the Scriptures because what is contained in the Scriptures will set you free.
-Elder Roger G. Meyer

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