Is Easter a pagan holiday?
No. It’s a Christian holiday, also called Resurrection Sunday, celebrating the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the grave three days after His crucifixion. So, it’s very much NOT a pagan holiday.
Right… but doesn’t it replace a pagan holiday?
No. Easter celebrations in the early Church, as early as the second century, were associated with Passover since that was the season in which Jesus was crucified and risen. In 325 AD, the Council of Nicea decided that a Christian Passover (Easter) would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, independent of the Jewish Passover.
The myth that Easter replaces a pagan holiday is likely due to the fact that Christians replaced the pagan celebration of the birth of the sun. If anything, Easter is a Roman Catholic invention, but still unrelated to any pagan spring festivals.
Fine, but isn’t the name “Easter” from a pagan goddess?
No. The claim that Easter comes from the pagan goddess Ostara was made up by 8th century English monk, the Venerable Bede in his book The Reckoning of Time. But, as Bede is the only source for this claim and there is no other lore for such a goddess, it’s likely he was making it up. To put it simply, no traditions for such a goddess exist.
The name is probably taken from Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon word for the spring equinox, meaning “to rise”.
Alright, but aren’t Easter eggs a pagan tradition?
No. They come from German Lenten traditions of hard boiling eggs so they would keep until the end of the Lenten fast. In the Middle East, eggs were painted red to symbolize the blood of Christ.
Though some would have you believe that the Easter egg originates with Nimrod’s egg-laying wife, Ishtar.
Okay, but the Easter Bunny… that’s pagan, right?
Actually, no. The Easter Hare was made up by German Lutherans as a “Santa Claus-like” character, rewarding children for good behavior, which has its own set of theological problems. God did not give us His Son because we were good, but because GOD is good.
So again, Easter isn’t pagan.
Now, while there’s nothing in the Bible about celebrating Easter, it does say not to quarrel over opinions about days.
One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Romans 14:5-6)
If someone wants to celebrate Easter Sunday, they’re not doing anything pagan. And, if someone doesn’t, they’re not doing anything unchristian.
Let us, as Believers, rejoice together in our risen Lord every day…
…when we understand the text!