Easter, Christmas and Paganism

A few great articles from Answers in Genesis; Miscellaneous Misconceptions About Christmas, Is the Name “Easter” of Pagan Origin? , Is the Date of Easter of Pagan Origin?

Update: I wanted to share a Comment from a friend named Sue R.

It has become an increasingly widespread opinion over the last several years, on the part of some believers, that Christians should not observe Christmas to celebrate Jesus’ birth because 1) We don’t know when he was born 2) Scripture does not command this celebration as an appointed time (Neither is Chanukah, but Yeshua did observe Chanukah in honor of God’s miracle give to His people at that tim…e) 3) It has it origins in the customs of pagan holidays. Elsewhere I have offered a different view, including the information that Jesus may have been conceived in December, thus marking his first appearance on earth, or, according to other systems of reckoning, may possibly even have been born in December, although it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, was born in the flesh to bear our sin and be our Savior. This is most worthy of a time of worship and celebration. What is rightly criticized is the secular holiday, and its emphasis on the acquisition of earthly goods, and the pagan holidays that observe entirely different things. These are surely unnecessary. But here is the most important reason to celebrated the birth of Jesus at Christmas time – God proves, over and over, year after year, that He is in it. At Christmas time, Families are reconciled. Relationships are healed. Forgiveness flows. Love awakens. There is a hiatus of peace in the midst of many a tumultuous situation. I have personally received communication about several instances of these things in just the last several days. Why is that? Why does it happen? Because God’s people are worshiping HIM and celebrating HIS birth, and bringing HIS message of salvation through forgiveness of sins, and everlasting life through faith the Jesus the Messiah, Yeshua Hamashiach. The angels rejoice at His birth, and His spirit within us rejoices at His birth., and that spreads to others.

Update 11/21/11: I have just come across a GREAT article on this very subject, I encourage you to read it.

Update: Another thought provoking article, this one by AIG

Paganism is in the eye of the beholder    and we certainly have many ‘eyes’ on this particular issue. I have read many times in the last several years, how people believe that Easter and Christmas are pagan, and if you celebrate them, then you are practicing paganism and idolatry. I just do not see how dedicating a day to specifically celebrate the birth, and another to celebrate the resurrection of God’s son, our Messiah could be a bad thing. These are two different times that all around the world Jesus Christ, the son and God the Father are being celebrated, worshiped,proclaimed, pondered and glorified. I have read that people believe Easter is pagan because of the actual word ‘Easter’, which supposedly has associations with some god, or that it is pagan because during Easter some people dye eggs, hide them for their children to find, and because people refer to an Easter bunny. Christmas labeled pagan because supposedly the specific day has association with some god, or that caroling, gift giving and Christmas trees supposedly have an association with some pagan rituals.

After much research, seeking truth through the WORD of GOD and prayer, I do not believe that Easter (from the word Pascha=Passover) and Christmas are pagan. Though I do respect the right of every individual to make their own decision about this issue. I am NOT saying you should or shouldn’t celebrate Christmas or Easter. That decision should only be between you and God!! Easter s just a day that has been specifically set aside to celebrate and remember to death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The eggs and the bunny that some people refer to during what is called the Easter season, is just childish fun and games; nothing more nothing less. No one who is truly honoring Jesus at Easter is doing with the eggs and or bunny what pagans may have or have not done at one time in history. The same goes for Christmas; there are a lot of things that are fun to our flesh and then there is what Christmas truly is, a day set aside to celebrate and remember that God sent Jesus into the world!!

I want to share some quotes, links, articles, etc. in reference to this topic.

“As for Easter being pagan… I hear this all the time. There are many faults to this thinking. The first is, Easter as a word didn’t enter the picture until the 1500’s. Second, Constantine for all his other faults aside, gets a bad rap for supposedly setting the timing for Easter… Easter as a word did not exist in his day, nor in his language, the word used at the Council of Nicaea was Pascha. I am sure you all know what word that is.” Peace. Ken –this quote is from a discussion at Hebrews for Christian FB page……

…..”the Greek word translated as Easter in that verse is Pascha, which is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew word Pesach… what we know as Passover. This wasn’t a new holiday, this was Passover they were speaking about. There is a letter on the net, easy to find (google “Constantine letter Easter”) which claims Constantine was attempting to set the timing for “Easter.” However, like the manuscripts our bibles are based on, Constantine’s letter was written in Greek. “Easter” is an English word from the late 15th or early 16th century and it stems from a tribal German word known as ester. From that word we get east, eastern, and of course Easter among others. Anyway, the point is, Constantine simply could not have been concerned with setting the date for Easter… the word didn’t exist for at least another 1000 years. He was concerned about setting the timing for Pascha, Passover. Apparently, the Jews had broken with their tradition of making sure the 14th of Nisan (Passover) happened after the equinox, so the early church set the timing of the observance of Passover to after the equinox and also… made sure it would fall on the 1st day of the week, the day Yehoshua resurrected. While I do not agree with their timing, and instead observe Pesach on the 14th of Abib/Nisan, they were not creating some pagan feast in their decision.” Peace. Ken –this quote is from a discussion at Hebrews for Christian FB page……

….”We need to study more folks, not “parrot” what others say. Easter is an Old English word derived from a Tuetonic word which means east. It was indeed wrongly translated from Pascha, but that doesn’t change the fact that in GREEK (which Constantine would have read) it says Pascha. I am amazed at this discussion… not THIS one per say, just the whole Easter is pagan discussion. It is silly, I am not sure that most people alive even knows what true paganism is anymore, and I am more amazed at the attempts to tie things linguistically when there are no ties. Easter does not equate backwards to anything Akkadian, that is just a plain simple truth!”–Peace. Ken –this quote is from a discussion at Hebrews for Christians FB page…..

Here is the link to the discussion that all these quotes came from:

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000481767099#!/topic.php?uid=56347292809&topic=13580

The man who wrote all the statements above also host a website  for discussing and seeking……… http://www.discoverhebrewroots.com/

Here is a great article that also speaks on this topic.

http://www.gci.org/church/holidays/easter

“The Word “Easter”

The first issue is the word “Easter” itself. (Of course, this objection is completely irrelevant in many nations, because the word for this Christian spring festival in other languages has no connection with the word “Easter.”) As well, we should remember that the resurrection of Jesus was celebrated in the spring for centuries in Christendom before the word “Easter” was adopted as a label for this festival in the English language. …….Nonetheless, critics claim that the Word “Easter” is derived from the name of a Germanic goddess of spring, Eastre. The English monk, Venerable Bede, who lived in the eighth century, popularized this view. However, this idea is not at all certain. The King James translators certainly did not understand the word “Easter” in this way when they used it to translate the Greek pascha, or Passover, in Acts 12:4!”~~From the article I linked above)

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many European languages, the words for “Easter” and “Passover” are etymologically related or homonymous.[4] The term “Pascha“, from the same root, is also used in English to refer to Easter. ~~Wikipedia

Now onto Christmas

Jeremiah 10:1-5 in the Bible says the following (King James Version):

[1] Hear what the Lord says to you , O house of Israel. [2] This is what the Lord says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. [3] For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. [4] They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. [5] Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good. -NIV Translation”~~~Christmas Tree article at Wikipedia

“This is interpreted by some fundamentalist Christians as referring to a Christmas tree, and that therefore the Bible would explicitly forbid the practice. However, the context of this passage refers to idol worship, and it is the practice of making an object out of wood, silver, and gold, and then worshiping that idol.[52] Others feel that since “Christmas Trees” are not biblically ordained, they should not be used. Such individuals and Christian denominations, such as the United Church of God, who are not to be confused with Church of God, are unlikely to celebrate Christmas at all, for the same reason. The original celebration of Christmas however was the birth of Christ. The implementation of the Christmas tree was established as a tradition, not the reason for Christmas. Also, Isaiah 55:13, refers to the evergreen tree as a joyful sign to the Lord in celebration of life everlasting, that shall not be cut off, though some apologists feel this is saying that the Messiah will live forever just like an evergreen tree never dies, (it doesn’t lose its leaves when Autumn comes).” ~~~ from Wikipedia article on Christmas Tree

“The practice of putting up special decorations at Christmas has a long history. From pre-Christian times, people in the Roman Empire brought branches from evergreen plants indoors in the winter. Decorating with greenery was also part of Jewish tradition : “Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. ” (Leviticus 23:40)” ~~Christmas article at wikipedia

Here is a very,very, short and thought-provoking message related to the view that Christmas and Easter are Pagan.

Speaking of Life: Christmas by Joseph Tkach

“Why Dec. 25?

One theory for the origin of Christmas is that it was intended to compete with or supplant the pagan celebration of the sun-god on that date. According to this hypothesis, accepted by most scholars today, the birth of Jesus was given near the date of the winter solstice. On this day, as the sun began its return to the northern skies, the pagan devotees of Mithra celebrated the birthday of the invincible sun. The cult was particularly strong at Rome when Christmas celebration arose.

The idea is that the church tried to counteract this pagan worship with its own celebration of Jesus’ birth. That makes good sense, since the church was, in effect, providing its members with a Christian worship and fellowship opportunity while the pagans were cavorting and doing homage to their gods. It was also an opportunity for the church to preach the true gospel. If this reasoning is correct, what Christians did, then, was to redeem in Christ an understanding that he (not a pagan sun god) was the true Son and Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2) — the true light that lights our path with his grace (John 8:12).” ~~~From article called Christmas Past and Present in the Church

I truly believe despite anything that was going on in the world with unbelievers; that when believers decided to have a day that represents the birth of Jesus and another that represents his resurrection, it was all done out of love of the Father and the Son, a desire to celebrate Jesus the Messiah and a desire to get the truth of Jesus out to the unbelievers. There is nothing pagan about celebrating and proclaiming the birth and resurrection of our Messiah and our Savior.

But what does it matter, so long as either way, whether in pretense [for personal ends] or in all honesty [for the furtherance of the Truth], Christ is being proclaimed? And in that I [now] rejoice, yes, and I shall rejoice [hereafter] also. Phil. 1:18 **See scripture in context HERE

I just do not believe that just because at one time or even now a Pagan uses eggs for something evil and ungodly; it makes eggs evil and ungodly. GOD himself created eggs (of course  HE created the chicken first =) and after HE created everything HE stated that it was good!! Therefore I believe with all my heart that  a child hunting eggs or dying them different colors doesn’t make that child or the parent of said child pagans or idolaters! GOD sees the heart and judges by the intent of the heart! If someone doesn’t want to celebrate Easter and Christmas because it wasn’t ordained in the bible or because you believe somehow it does have pagan roots, than don’t celebrate them. If someone with all their heart wants to use these dates to have a specific time to proclaim your Lord Jesus Christ; His birth, death and resurrection than do it  unto the Lord. Let us not bring (even more) division into the body over what only God can truly judge.

If someone is going to hold to the belief that eggs, bunnies, trees, and wreaths are pagan than please also hold to the belief that anything and everything that pagans have used in their worship of their gods are also still pagan. One can’t pick and choose what is pagan and what is not. Either everything that has ever been associated or could in someway be associated with pagans is also still pagan today or none of it is, especially when it is NOT being used to worship another god.

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