The Origin of “Easter” By Jim Staley In the ancient heathen world there were gods and goddesses for

everything. There were gods for the sun, moon, trees, animals, love, and so on. And as Paul found out, there was even a god called the “unknown god”, just in case they missed any. Some of these gods were at one time real human beings and after death were glorified to the status of a god or goddess. The people did not necessarily worship the sun or the moon but the god that was “in charge” of the sun or the moon, etc… Even the great Caesars were given god-like status even while some were still alive! The greatest of all of the gods throughout all of history and all civilizations was virtually always the “sun-god”. And the first god worshipped as the god of the sun was Nimrod, the very same Nimrod from the book of Genesis. And from the book of Genesis we learn that Nimrod was a great grandson of Noah, an incredible hunter and became a mighty king on the earth. Genesis also records for us in chapter 10 that he was responsible for building the kingdoms of Babel and Nineveh along with many other cities. But his most famous accomplishment was the “brilliant” idea to build a “tower whose top would reach the heavens”. This in turn provoked the LORD to come down out of heaven to confuse their language and scatter them over the face of the earth. This infamous tower became known as the “Tower of Babel”. Nimrod was said to be the most powerful ruler of all time and when he died, Babylonian legend says that he ascended into the heavens and he became the sun-god. The name that the people of his time would call him would be “Baal” which means “lord”. The wife that he left behind was named Semiramis, who would now become the “Queen of Heaven” since she was the wife of the sungod Baal. Years later Semiramis became pregnant. She declared that she had become pregnant by the rays of the sun of her deceased husband, Nimrod (Baal), and nine months later she gave birth to a son in which she gave the name “Tammuz”. Because of the god-like status of his late father Nimord, baby Tammuz was quickly haled to be the reincarnation of his father Nimrod. Tammuz, like his father, also became a mighty hunter on the earth. But, when he was forty years of

age, he was killed by a wild boar on one of his hunting expeditions. Because he was revered to be the reincarnated sun-god, his death brought great despair upon the people of Babel. So, they set aside forty days of weeping and fasting for Tammuz each year in the Spring to commemorate each year that he was alive. (This tradition has been passed down through the ages to the church and is where we get the forty days of fasting before Easter Sunday. This is where the Catholic original tradition of “Lent” came from until Catholic leadership changed the origination to the 40 days of fasting that Jesus did in the wilderness.) After the forty days of weeping, they would kill a wild boar (getting back at the boar that killed Tammuz) and eat the ham on the first Sunday after the Spring Equinox (This is where the tradition of eating ham on Easter Sunday came from). Also as a side note, one of the ancient statues of Mary holding baby Jesus in the Vatican is actually a REAL statue of Semiramis holding baby Tammuz! The Catholic Church just changed the names to Mary and Jesus! Many years later, as the legend continues, Tammuz’s mother Semiramis dies and ascends into heaven. But as the luck of the Babylonian legend would have it, when she ascended into the heavens, the gods sent her back down to earth in a giant egg at sunrise on the first Sunday after the vernal equinox (first day of Spring). She landed in the Euphrates River, the egg busted open and she turned a bird into an egg laying rabbit. (Have you ever wondered where the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs came from? Well, now you know.) Eggs were very symbolic of many pagan religions as many believed that the earth itself came from a giant egg. Furthermore, the rabbit was looked upon as the most fertile animal on earth and the egg was also viewed as a symbol of fertility and new life. This is why these two symbols were attributed to the new “Queen of Heaven”, Ishtar. It is also important to note that the process of deifying someone included renaming the individual after they had died. Many times they would be given a name that represented whatever they were going to be the god of. The new name of Semiramus according to the Babylonians was Ishtar, the god of fertility and the god of the East, or sunrise. Later, the Phoenicians and the Greeks in their language called her Astarte, the Zidonians called her Ashtaroth (Judges 2:13

“And they forsook the LORD and served Baal and Ashtaroth.”), the Philistines in the time of Saul kept the name Ishtar and the Celtics called her Eostra. (Judges 10:6, “And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served Him not.”) But all of these names were referring to the same goddess: the barebreasted fertility goddess of the Spring. And guess what the Anglicization of the Babylonian name “Ishtar” is? You guessed it--Easter. The Bible does mention most of the various names of Easter, but does not go in great detail of how she was worshipped. So we are forced to go to history books, ancient extra biblical sources and ancient legends that describe these subjects in more detail. For example, Paul mentions the “Circumcision Party” in one of his letters. We don’t get a clear picture of who these people were, so we must rely on other historical sources from that time period to describe more accurately who the Circumcision Party was in order to correctly interpret that scripture. In the same manner, if God tells us not to worship Him the way that people used to worship Baal, (Deut. 12:2932), and not to even mention the names of their gods in connection with Him (Ex. 23:13), then it is very vital to know HOW people worshiped Baal so that we do not adopt those same practices in our worship of the true God, Yahweh. Scripture does not give us all of the details of how the people worshipped Baal and Easter. The reason is that the people to whom the scriptures were written to already knew all of the details. So because we are thousands of years removed from their time period and culture, we rely on what the Bible does tell us, but we also rely heavily on historians like Josephus and others that paint the pictures of what each subject looked like in vivid detail. Even a quick look into what Catholic historians say about this subject is revealing: “The reasons for celebrating our major feasts when we do are many and varied. In general, however, it is true that many of them have at

least an indirect connection with the pre-Christian [pagan] feasts celebrated about the same time of year — feasts centering around the harvest, the rebirth of the sun at the winter solstice (now Dec. 21, but Dec. 25 in the old Julian calendar), the renewal of nature in spring, and so on.” Source: The New Question Box - Catholic Life for the Nineties, copyright 1988 by John J. Dietzen, M.A., S.T.L., ISBN 0-940518-01-5 (paperback), published by Guildhall Publishers, Peoria Illinois, 61651., page 554. Even the Oxford English dictionary defines “Easter” as “The name of a goddess whose festival was celebrated at the vernal equinox… originally known as the dawn goddess, the goddess of fertility.” So let’s get back to the story. So, as sun worship (Baal worship) increased and became world wide, so did the worship of his wife, the “Queen of Heaven”, Easter. We are told through this Babylonian legend that every year on “Easter Sunday” at sunrise, the priests of Easter would impregnate young virgins on the altar of Baal. Then, the next year, they would take the now three month old babies and sacrifice them on the altar on Easter Sunday at the sunrise service. They would then take the eggs of Easter and dye the eggs in the blood of the sacrificed infants. Here is an interesting quote that I found on the internet. “Red is a traditional color for dying eggs…Red dyed eggs are offered to the god and goddess of the bed in China.” Interestingly enough, although pastel colors are mostly used here in America, red is the most popular color that Easter eggs are dyed worldwide. Even the official White House Easter egg is made of ruby red glass. This tradition finds its roots all the way back to the dying of Easter eggs in the blood of sacrificed children. You may not have wanted to learn that last factual root of where the tradition of dying Easter eggs came from. Neither did I. But in the end, I would hope that all true believers would rather know the truth about these things, rather than do something without knowledge of why we do them or where they came from. How did the Resurrection become associated with Easter’s Sunday? One author on the subject writes, “Around the second century A.D., Christian missionaries traveled among the Teutonic tribes north of

Rome. Whenever possible, they converted the tribes of northern Europe realizing that the time of the crucifixion of Jesus roughly coincided with the Pagan springtime celebrations of Easter…Since it would have been suicide for the very early Christian converts to celebrate the biblical holy days (Passover) alongside the pagan observances that were already set in place, the missionaries cleverly devised a plan. In order to save the lives of their converts, they would allow them to continue to celebrate their pagan feasts, but to do so in a Christian manner. Since the Easter festival to celebrate spring coincided with the time of the Christian observance of the resurrection (Passover) of Christ, this crossover was achieved smoothly.” And so for the purpose of making it easier for the pagan gentiles to convert to Christianity, they were allowed to keep the festival of Easter as long as they tied it to the resurrection of Christ. But the entire early church of the New Testament for over a hundred years celebrated the actual week of Passover as the time that Jesus died and rose from the dead as the scriptures say. It is interesting to note at this point that this author says that it would "have been suicide" for the new converts to keep the Biblical Holy days because they were so surrounded by paganism. By even mentioning this fact, he is by logical deduction, implying that Christians outside of those pagan social pressures, DID keep the Biblical Holy days such as Passover as Jesus commanded. Unfortunately, man seems to always compromise and cave in to social pressures, rather than stand up for the truth through faith. As you will see by the end of this article, the main reason why the Christian Church at large celebrates Easter instead of the Biblical celebration of Passover that Jesus and his followers observed is because more and more pagan Gentiles were coming into the church, rising to leadership, and removing the things that Jesus and his followers did that they thought were “too Jewish” and would replace them would celebrations that they were more accustomed to. It is important to remember that the pagan Gentiles that were converting to Christianity hated the Jews and did not want to have anything to do with them or their traditions…even if their traditions came from the Bible itself. For the sake of adding more converts, (instead of the biblical creating disciples method), the “Church” began

to compromise the footsteps and teachings of the first century disciples. Through all of this historical change though, there has always remained a remnant that retained the true meaning and traditions of the Bible. Even by the fourth century there were still many believers that still celebrated the resurrection on Passover like the early church before them. The Roman Emperor Constantine said at the council of Nicea in 325A.D., “It appears that the churches of Syria and Mesopotamia continues to follow the custom of the Jews, and celebrated Easter on the fourteenth day of the moon whether falling on Sunday or not. All the other churches observed the solemnity on Sunday only.” (The “fourteenth day of the moon” was how the Bible told the early believers to calculate Passover.) It was also at the Council of Nicea that Constantine made it law that the celebration of the resurrection of Christ was to be done on Easter Sunday: “…This subject having been discussed, it was decreed to celebrate Easter on the same day…(Sunday) …which was the practice of Rome.” Constantine was a huge sun worshipper before he supposedly converted to Christianity along with the rest of the citizens of Rome. And celebrating Easter on the first Sunday after the spring equinox was already “the practice of Rome”. Constantine went on to finally declare for all time, “…We should perpetuate to all future ages the celebration of this rite.” And so it went down in history on that day, in the beginnings of the Roman Catholic Church, that anyone that celebrated the resurrection on any other day would be excommunicated, severely punished or even killed. Not much has changed since that proclamation by Constantine almost seventeen hundred years ago. Sure, there was a Protestant Reformation. But for the most part, most Christian churches operate in some way shape or form EXACTLY how their Catholic predecessors taught them without virtually any examination of doctrine and traditions to verify their biblical accuracy. For too long we have just done things because we have always done them and they appear to have no harm. But, is it possible that we are missing out on something that carries incredible blessings and significance for both us and our children? So, we have come to the point in our journey on this subject that I believe we must address what you are probably thinking: “Those

facts about the origin of Easter are interesting, but that is not what Easter means to me.” Before we answer this common response, we must first answer the following question: Can we “Christianize” pagan holidays and worship our God using the things that the pagans used to worship their gods? Before going to the scriptures, let me answer by using a simple example of how a husband relates to his wife. Should a husband love his wife the way that HE wants to love her? Or should he love her the way that SHE wants to be loved. Over the lifetime of my marriage I have learned that my wife does not want me to solve her problems as much as she wants me to listen to them. I still do not understand why she wants to be loved like this because if it were me it seems more logical to just solve the problem and things instantly get better. The problem is that it is NOT me. It is about HER. Whether I understand it or not, it is my responsibility to serve her in the way that most pleases her. She will not be fulfilled any other way. In the same way, are we to think that the Creator of the Universe will accept our worship in whatever form we want to give it just because our hearts are “sincere”? The condition of our heart and motives ONLY matter as we are obeying Him in the way that pleases HIM. Obedience must come first. Otherwise, what would be the point in even sharing the gospel? Virtually everyone is sincere and thinks that they are pleasing God. The reason why we share the gospel is because we can only please God THROUGH faith and obedience to Jesus Christ (John 14:6). We know that they cannot just choose any old way to worship Yahweh. But for some reason, we do not apply the same logic to our own beliefs and traditions. \ Many might say it doesn't really matter if we celebrate Easter using pagan traditions, especially since we use them to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. What do the Scriptures have to say about this? Can we “Christianize” pagan holidays and worship our God using the things that the pagans used to worship their gods? Let’s take a look at the book of Deuteronomy: Deut. 12:29 says, "When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, 30 "take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ 31 "You shall not

worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. 32 "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it. "You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way” The Israelites were engrained in Egypt to worship gods through manmade things and ideas. Yahweh knew that they would be inclined to want to take the idols of the nations and use them and their traditions to worship Him, so He made it EXTREMELY clear that He wanted His people to be “set apart”, a “holy priesthood”(I Pet. 2:5), to “not learn the ways of the heathens” (Jer. 10:2), and to “NOT WORSHIP THE LORD GOD IN THAT WAY”. What way? The same ways and traditions that the pagans used to worship their gods. Now, at first glance it is tempting to read into these scriptures that God is telling them not to worship other gods, but that is NOT what He is saying. Verse 31 does not say, “You shall not worship other gods.” It says, “You shall not worship the LORD your God in THAT way…” These were people that were already prone, from the golden calf experience, to worship the true God through “unapproved” measures. Man seems to be bent in inventing and creating new ways to do everything and worshipping seems to be no exception. The question though, seems to be whether or not we have the rite to invent, change, add or subtract from the things that He has already approved. It is hard for us finite humans to remember that HE is the one being worshipped and not us. The last verse in that chapter is worth repeating: 32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it. One author wrote on this verse, “In this brief clause he teaches that no other service of God is lawful, except that of which He has testified His approval in His word, and that obedience is as it were the mother of piety; By forbidding the addition, or diminishing of anything, he plainly condemns as illegitimate whatever men invent of their own imagination; whence it follows that they, who in worshipping God are guided by any rule save that which He Himself has prescribed.”

It is our job to worship God the way that He wants to be worshipped, and NOT the way we want to worship Him. Let’s use another example: Let's say there was a guy named Joe that before he was married to a different girl, dated a girl for five years that had a 1969 red mustang. Furthermore, Joe had gone on hundreds of dates with this girl in this mustang. On top of that, let’s say Joe’s new wife knew all about this mustang and Joe's old girlfriend. How excited would Joe's wife be if he decided to buy her a 1969 red mustang for their first wedding anniversary? Not very excited I would imagine. And if that wasn’t enough, Joe decided that he was so used to celebrating his girlfriend”vs birthday on December 25th, that he decided to change his wife’s birthday to December 25th thinking that she wouldn’t mind since after all, he was doing his best to show his love toward her. Given the above scenario, I think it might be his last anniversary to say the least. But, on behalf of Joe, at this point he doesn’t know any better because she hasn’t slapped him yet with the truth of how she feels! But, after the shock of learning this new truth, Joe will now be responsible to pray and ask God to help him “sell the mustang” regardless of how much it meant to him or the memories that are associated with it. No matter how pure Joe’s motives were in how he wanted to please her, she did not want to be pleased “in that way”. In the same way, we cannot say, “That’s not what Easter means to me”, because WE are not the ones receiving the worship. The only thing that matters is what our God YAHWEH thinks! And I hope by now that it has become very clear what God thinks about using things, ideas and traditions that were formally used by pagans to worship their gods, for the purpose of worshipping the one true God. It does not matter if times have changed and Easter does not mean to us what it did 2000 years ago. The facts are that virtually everything that is associated with Easter can be traced back to pagan ritualistic ceremonies that Yahweh hated. How do you think God feels looking down from Heaven and seeing us celebrate a day with the name of a pagan goddess, passing out stuffed Easter bunnies to the children that are picking up dyed Easter eggs, eating Easter ham on Easter Sunday morning while we attend Easter sunrise services on the exact same day that all of the sun-worshippers did for thousands of years!? We each have to answer that question privately in our own relationship with God.

But, it is my belief that it disgusts him to see his people mix (compromise) past abominations in with the resurrection of His Son. And on top of that we KNOW that the tradition comes from a pagan background (every dictionary and encyclopedia admits this), and yet we justify it by saying that “it doesn’t mean that to ME”. Have we fallen so far from truth that we put more of an emphasis on what WE think than what God Almighty says? But then again, that is just my belief. Each of us will have to come to our own conclusions on the matter. I must admit that the first time I came across this truth, I rejected it, on the account that I could not believe that for over 1700 years the “Christian” church would be teaching its followers to do something that God doesn’t approve of. But as my passion for truth and my desire to serve Him grew stronger, I could not deny the facts any longer. Either I was going to honor God in the ways that HE chooses or the ways in which I choose. God has told us how He wants us to worship Him and we are not “to add or take away” from those instructions. Originally the Spring Feast of Passover was replaced by the Roman Church for Easter. I believe it is time to re-replace Easter with what Jesus, the disciples and Paul tell us to keep: Passover. As foreign as it might sound to keep Passover instead of Easter, (because most of us have been brought up in churches that have adopted “Roman Catholic” holidays and traditions), it is time that we put our preconceived biases and emotions aside and call bible things by bible names and do bible things in bible ways. We keep SAYING that we want to be like the early church. Well, the early Christians kept Passover for almost three hundred years until it was outlawed by Constantine in 325 A.D. We see “WWJD” everywhere. What WOULD Jesus Do? I think that it is a safe assumption that He would most definitely not celebrate Easter, but Passover, like he instructed us to do. Besides, Passover, like the other six Biblical Holy Days are all about the Messiah! Every one of them are prophetic and forecast details about His first coming and His second! Each one has tremendous symbolic teaching tools for us and especially our children that teach deep spiritual principles for out lives. For example, have you ever wondered why it was so significant that Jesus said, “This is my body and this is my blood”? The answer is because up until this point, for the past 1200 years, the Jewish people had celebrated the Passover as a remembrance of the leaving of Egypt and at that point

in the supper, the head of each household would hold up the bread and thank God in Heaven for providing for them bread from the earth. But, this time was different. Jesus changed the age old ceremony in that one sentence. The bread was to now signify his body and the wine his blood that would usher in a New Covenant. He told us to now celebrate the Passover in remembrance of being freed from sin and that He is now the Passover Lamb that we are to remember. Luke 22:7 says, “Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb must be killed.”, and 1 Cor. 5:7, “…For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” And this lamb which had been killed and sacrificed for thousands of years as a rehearsal for the atonement of the sins of Israel was now going to be this day, the “lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” John 1:29. Or how about the 3 pieces of unleavened bread (like crackers) that are wrapped in linen that are pierced with holes and have stripes? The middle piece is broken and hidden somewhere in the house for all the children to find. This represents the body of Messiah that was broken and pierced for us and hidden for 3 days. We personally take the other half of the broken piece and wrap each piece in linen and write a child’s name on it in red ink signifying that Jesus paid for their sins personally. Then we hide all the pieces throughout the house and all the children go looking for their name and whoever finds the middle piece gets a special prize. What a wonderful teaching tool! The entire dinner is filled with deep, spiritual symbolism and teaching tools for the whole family and it all points and is centered around the Messiah! Isn’t that what we as believers are really trying to do anyway…put focus and emphasis on the death and resurrection of our Messiah and teach our children the same? Why not use the tools that God gave His people so long ago that are from Him? Does He not know what we need to remember and properly teach our children? Why celebrate the resurrection of the Son of God using things that came from man when we can utilize the very things that came from Yahweh Himself that were created for our blessing and benefit? My Final Hurdle The last hurdle that I had to get over in my own mind was that I thought that Passover was “Jewish”. Little did I know that was only what I had been taught and that idea is not found in scripture. I had presumed that they were Jewish because they were the only ones

that seemed to keep them! But God said that these were HIS Holy Days and if anyone wanted to be a part of His Covenant and be a part of the “Chosen People”, they would have to play by His rules: Le 23:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are My feasts. Numbers 9:14 “If an alien sojourns among you and observes the Passover to the LORD, according to the statute of the Passover and according to its ordinance, so he shall do; you shall have one statute, both for the alien and for the native of the land.'" Final Thoughts We are all on our own journey in our relationship and our walk with Him. In my journey into these things back in 2002, I only sought out to find where the Easter Bunny came from and “Holy Cow” (no pun intended), I ended up here! Jesus said to know the truth and the truth will set you free. And there is something very freeing in giving up traditions that God does not approve of and replacing them with the things that He has. In a way, I feel reconnected to the early Christians that chose to serve God only in the ways that He wanted to be served. Celebrating Passover instead of Easter has empowered me to teach my family age old truths about the Messiah in the same way that the Apostles did with their children. It has caused us to grow closer to Him. In short…it has changed us. Doing things His way has changed…me. May you be blessed on YOUR journey as you seek to follow Him in everything that you do. Jim Staley Passion for Truth Ministries

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful