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Is Easter a pagan holiday? Easter pagan origin

Fundamental Christian feast, most people know that Easter marks an important event for Christianity. In general, we can say that most Christians know that Easter commemorates the event that was the foundation of a great religion: the passion, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Is Easter a pagan holiday?

The Easter feast has ancient origins as a pagan feast, symbolizing the Resurrection of the Lord, but was initially celebrated by pagans. While Easter was associated with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in Christian times, in ancient cultures, it symbolized a celebration of the Sun with the coming of the spring equinoxHistorical records say that the first Passover was celebrated around 1400 BC. It commemorates the freedom of the Jews with their escape from bondage, the Exodus, and the crossing of the Red Sea. All these events are recounted in the Old Testament.

Many people also know that the Christian Passover originated partly from the Jewish Passover, Pesach. The first great monotheistic religion formed the basis of a new religion. The very name comes from Hebrew, pasha, meaning to pass. The actual events that founded Christianity coincided with the date of the Jewish holiday.

Why is Easter considered a pagan holiday?

Since ancient times, Christians and pagans have attached great importance to celebrating death and resurrection, which usually occurred immediately after the vernal equinox. Many religious historians believe that many of the criteria underlying the Christian celebration of Easter evolved from pagan rituals thousands of years old. Is Easter a pagan holiday?

According to apocryphal writings, Easter was and is considered a pagan holiday because many of the pagan religions in the Mediterranean area had a feast day set during or immediately after the vernal equinox and called it this way. These were linked to Cybele, the Phrygian goddess of fertility, who had an imaginary husband who was supposedly born of a virgin mother. His name was Attis, and he was believed to die and resurrect every year between 22 and 25 March.

The celebration of this god began on a Friday, called Black or Good Friday, and yet culminated after three days with a joyous feast of the resurrection. Coincidentally, the Christian feast of Jesus and the pagan feast of Attis took place in the first centuries of our era. Indeed in roughly the same geographical area, some historians have even argued that pagans and Christians celebrated death and resurrection on the same day.

Why is Easter called “Easter”?

Easter is one of Christianity’s most significant holidays. Millions of people celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as taking place three days after his crucifixion. It’s also the day when children wait for the Easter bunnies to arrive with all sorts of presents and chocolate eggs.

Easter is Easter because it comes from the ancient name of a goddess and god the Saxon peoples worship. References to the origin of the name of this feast were first made by Bede, a Christian scholar, who mentioned in one of his books, De Ratione Temporum, that the name came from Eostre, the mother goddess of the Saxon peoples and also of fertility. In Germanic languages, there were several names attributed to the goddess who was the origin of the Easter feast.

For Buddhists, the bunny is also a seminarian creature. Legend has it that, having no offering to bring to the goddess Indra, the bunny cooked itself in the sacred fire and, as a reward, was placed on the moon.

Most historians, including biblical scholars, agree that Easter was originally a pagan festival. However, several scholars vehemently dispute this idea. In this article, we explore the various perspectives on the origin of Easter.

Is Easter based on a pagan holiday?

For many, the greatest joy of Easter is when the family gathers around the table full of goodies, while for others, the most awaited moment is the resurrection service, which in many places lasts until 4 am. Many don’t taste the craziness in the shops, nor do they grasp the standard messages that begin with: May the holiday light… But Easter has a long history, with pagan customs, ancient spring festivals, religious disputes, various traditions, and many commercial elements added over the past 250 years. Is Easter a pagan holiday?

Like Christmas, Easter too is based on a pagan celebration and has its roots in the great festivals of antiquity, basically the spring festivals of old. Elements from ancient times have been added and have come to be included in the holiday we know today. Then, modern components were added in recent centuries: the bunny, presents, and things that led to the over-commercialization of the holiday.

The date of Easter is based on two astronomical phenomena: the vernal equinox and the moon’s rotation around the earth. Generally, the Catholic one is a week earlier than the Christian one, but there are cases where the Catholic one is more than a month earlier.

Read also: What is Passion Week? Was Jesus crucified on Passover?

Is Jesus celebrated on Easter Day?

Easter is also considered the feast of joy given by the news of the Saviour’s Resurrection. This news, which, until the Ascension of the Lord, for 40 days, is reflected in the greeting Christ is risen, to which the answer is indeed risen.

According to superstition and research, Jesus is celebrated on Easter for His Resurrection. Easter celebrations for Orthodox believers begin on Sunday and last for three days. Easter ceremonies take place in Jerusalem and all over the world where Christian communities live.

Christianity’s oldest feast is the Resurrection of the Lord, also called the Feast of the Passover – when evil and cunning will be laid aside and clothed in the garb of truth and joy. It is the feast that brought mankind the hope of salvation and eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Biography of Jesus

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Biblical places from the times of Jesus

  1. Mount of Olives-How are Mount Olives described in the Bible?
  2. Kinneret- Is Kinneret located in Jerusalem? Is it the sea?

Is Easter in the Bible?

The Christian Passover was not causally related to the Jewish Passover, which was interpreted only as the prototype of the Christian Passover. So Christians celebrate Easter in remembrance of salvation from the bondage of sin and death, redemption. 

According to countless types of research of apocryphal and biblical-historical studies, Easter is not mentioned in the Bible, but the Feast of Unleavened Bread is mentioned in the Bible. According to the ritual of the Jewish Passover, each parent of a family was obliged to slaughter a year-old lamb, roast it over a fire and eat it at home and later at the temple. When eating the Passover lamb, the Jews used only unleavened bread and bitter herbs, standing incensed, dressed, and holding torches, as was the feast established by Moses. That is why the Jews also call it the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The Old Testament Pascha also signifies the consummation of the Passover lamb, and the Easter Pascha is the consummation of the body and blood of the Lamb of God. Also, the blood of the Passover lamb enabled the Jews to escape Egyptian bondage. And indeed pass into the land of the promised land, and the blood of the Savior frees Christians from the bondage of sin and passes them into eternal life.

Key Verse related to pagan holidays

“Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? Even so, will I do likewise.”

Deuteronomy 12:30 (NIV)

Is Easter a pagan holiday?

Easter and Christianity

The prototypical value of the Jewish Passover for the Christian Passover is closely related, not that the Jewish Passover caused or liturgically influenced the Christian Passover. Their independence can be seen in the intimate structure of each, in their chronological difference, and in the fact that, from the beginning, Christians had this distinction between the Jewish Passover and the Passovers they celebrated well formulated.

By the date of the celebration of the Jewish Pascha, the first Christians recruited from among the Jews made a slight rapprochement between the two feasts, for their respect and piety towards the old ancestral feast passed, without notice, over the new Christian feast, which recalled the passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord for our salvation. This is why St. Paul relates the Jewish Passover to Christ and calls Christians to celebrate Him in a new spirit: Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be, the new leaven, as ye are without leaven; for our Paschal Christ sacrificed himself for us. Therefore let us not eat the old leaven, nor the leaven of malice and deceit, but the leaven of cleanliness and truth.

Since the fourth century, that is, after the First Ecumenical Council of 0325 AD, it is no longer necessary to speak of testimonies proving the presence of the feast of Easter because, by this council, it is attested, on the one hand, the generality of the feast of Easter. On the other hand, the fact that the question of its uniform date is now discussed means that it was known everywhere.

Does Easter have pagan roots?

With time, various traditions and customs have emerged that are not necessarily related to this holiday. Easter is also an important feast for Christians. It also celebrates one of the main events on which the entire Christian religion is based, namely the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Is Easter a pagan holiday with pagan roots?

Easter is a holiday that has pagan roots, celebrating spring and renewal. Long ago, probably in prehistoric times, there was a celebration on spring’s first full moon day. After the long days of winter, everyone celebrated the return of good weather.

The Christian Easter celebrates in religious canons the Resurrection of Christ, the Son of God, after his sacrifice on the cross for mankind. Easter celebrations and commemorations begin on Palm Sunday when Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is celebrated. From the evening of that Sunday, services are held in the church, vespers designed to bring to the fore the last commandments, advice, and stories given by Jesus to his apostles, his betrayal by Judas, the Last Supper, the capture and trial, the condemnation and crucifixion of Jesus and his death.

4 Superstitions about Easter Day:

  1. From the first egg broken on Easter Day, the whole family must eat, so they are always together.
  2. If an egg broken on Easter Day has two yolks, it s said that the one who had it must prepare for the wedding because he will soon get married.
  3. In some countries, the tradition says that people should wash with water from a bowl where they have put flowers, money, and a red egg. It is believed that this will make them red in the cheeks like the red egg, prosperous and healthy. The money goes to the one who wakes up last.
  4. People used to make wine with wormwood at this time.

Easter Traditions

Easter is probably the most significant Christian feast. From a religious point of view, it signifies the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. As it coincides with spring, it is a much-anticipated feast after the long winter.

According to tradition seekers, below is a list of traditions that people practice during Easter:

  • Traditionally, until before Maundy Thursday, men worked the fields.
  • With the High Thursday, the work around the house would begin.
  • Lambs or piglets would be cut.
  • The yard and the street in front of the house would be swept.
  • The festive clothes for the feast would be prepared.

In addition to the oven-baked dishes, most peasants prepared roast meat and lamb stew for the Easter meal. It was also called the Easter lamb. It is the Pascha that gave the holiday its name. And also is baked from wheat flour, leavened dough, salt, and cow’s milk. And has a circular shape with braids on edge or even in the middle. The braids in the middle are in the form of the cross on which Jesus was crucified.

Easter Eggs

Easter eggs, according to tradition, were gathered from the nest on the Wednesday of the fourth week of Lent, also known as Lent Wednesday.

The Easter-dyed egg symbolizes the Saviour, who leaves the tomb and returns to life, like the hen that hatches. There is a custom that from the time of the drying of the eggs until this day, the housewives do not collect the eggs. It was believed that eggs picked on this day would not spoil until Easter. Now eggs were chosen for Easter food and eggs to be browned.

Even if they were collected on this day, the dyeing of the eggs took place on the Thursday of the week before Easter, but never on Good Friday.

Easter Bunny

Also, in America, this tradition of the Easter bunny bringing gifts of painted eggs to good children was brought over by German immigrants. Also, on the American continent, the big-eared animal is the stuff of legend. Among some tribes, there is a myth describing how the rabbit brought fire to humans, while in Mayan culture, it was credited with inventing writing. Is Easter a pagan holiday?

The Bunny is the pagan symbol of Eostre, the goddess of spring. Yet she was often associated with eggs and the hare, as the goddess is said to have found an injured bird in winter, and the only solution to save it was to turn it into a rabbit. But although no longer a bird, the rabbit could still lay eggs. The rabbit is also said to be a lunar creature, and it is the cycles of the moon that determine which day we celebrate Easter each year.

Easter is a feast kept sacred by Christians. It symbolizes the Resurrection of the Lord, but the tradition of the beloved Easter Bunny originates in pagan legends.

Easter traditions around the world

Easter is celebrated differently according to the customs of countries around the world. For example, in Italy, the priest blesses Easter eggs. During the Easter Sunday meal, the housewives place them in the center of the table, where everyone gathers, and the celebration can begin.

In France and most European countries, church bells, symbols of Easter, do not ring from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Also, the tradition says that all the bells go to Rome to take care of the eggs, and on their return, the bells will give the children decorated eggs.

But also, in other European countries, the messengers of Easter are not the bells: in Tyrol, it is the chicken. Indeed, in Switzerland, it’s a cuckoo. Also, in Germany, it is a white rabbit. In Anglo-Saxon countries, a rabbit.

In Bulgaria, one or two days before Easter, it is customary for Christian families to send a piece of bread and 10 to 15 dyed red eggs to their Turkish friends. Honored by this presence, the messengers usually receive some money for bringing those eggs.

Primary Takeaways

  • The symbolic story of the sun son’s death on a cross and his rebirth, the overcoming of the powers of darkness, has been a story handed down from ancient times. The Sumerian goddess Inanna or Ishtar, was hanged naked on a pyre and later resurrected from hell.
  • The Old Testament also points out that sacrificing the Passover lamb was originally the tradition of the Jews. Also, God helped them get out of Egypt, and on the first feast of Passover, He asked them to sacrifice a lamb as a covenant with the deity.
  • Also, in Christianity, the lamb’s sacrifice symbolizes the sacrifice of the Son of God, through which He makes a new covenant with all people who receive the teaching. Thus, not only Jews but all people can be forgiven of their sins through Jesus’ sacrifice, and all can have eternal life in the Kingdom.


There is no mention of Easter as a pagan holiday in the New Testament, but the church fathers celebrated it. Today many churches celebrate Easter, but this feast is of pagan origin and was celebrated in honor of the Sun. 

Easter is celebrated at the same time that many pagan religions celebrated the resurrection of nature, the time of fruitfulness. Also, it is known that the Christian Easter is calculated by taking into account the rotation of the moon around the Earth and the vernal equinox. At the same time, pagans celebrated the awakening of nature by worshipping various deities of life and fertility.

If you enjoyed our article, please check our following Quiz about Jesus and Easter Sunday.  May God bless you and keep you safe!

Bible Trivia about Resurrection

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Explanation of biblical words

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  • Sherlock, T. (1800). The Trial of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus. H. Tuckniss.
  • Winter, P. (2014). On the trial of Jesus. de Gruyter.
  • Schottroff, L. (2006). The parables of Jesus. Fortress Press.
  • Walaskay, P. W. (1975). The trial and death of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. Journal of Biblical Literature94(1), 81-93.