Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I Don't Celebrate "Easter"

I'll admit that the title of this post is designed to grab attention.

I do not celebrate Easter. My family does not celebrate Easter. Why is this? It's because the word "Easter" is nowhere to be found in the bible (The KJV uses the word "Easter" in Acts 12:4, but a better translation is "Passover"; see NASB, ESV, NKJV).

The origin of the word "Easter" is somewhat controversial. This is most likely because some people want to defend the use of it in the church. An objective look at history at least suggests that the word Easter has an ancient pagan origin. The best concise explanation that I have found of the origin of Easter can be found at this site. It says, "The feast day of Easter was originally a pagan celebration of renewal and rebirth. Celebrated in the early spring, it honored the pagan Saxon goddess Eastre. When the early missionaries converted the Saxons to Christianity, the holiday, since it fell around the same time as the traditional memorial of Christ's resurrection from the dead, was merged with the pagan celebration, and became know as Easter. The meaning of Easter was also changed to reflect its new Christian orientation." Notice the similarity of the name of the pagan goddess Eastre with our holiday Easter.

Because of its pagan origin, we have decided not to use the word Easter. I will admit that due to tradition we sometimes slip up and use the word, but it is unintentional. We have also decided not to celebrate any of the pagan practices that accompany celebrations of spring. Specifically, we reject wholesale the Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs. There is little I despise more than when pagan practices infiltrate the church. When I see little kids at church running around looking for eggs on the church property, it disappoints and nauseates me.

What we do celebrate at this time of year is our Lord Jesus' resurrection from the dead. On this coming Sunday, we will celebrate what we call "Resurrection Sunday." We actually celebrate this all the time, but especially this Sunday. This term seems to be a much better descriptor of what we are actually rejoicing about. We rejoice in the empty cross. We rejoice in the empty tomb. We rejoice in Christ's victory over death and Satan. We rejoice in our salvation.

Some people may say that I am being nit-picky. They say that the word used for this special day does not really matter. I beg to differ. If we say we are going to be biblical, then why not attempt to be biblical in all things? Why in the world would we use a name derived from a pagan goddess to refer to such a wonderful day of celebration for us? The use of "Easter" seems nonsensical to me.


This cartoon kind of sums things up. The Easter Bunny and Easter Egg have no idea what the cross is all about. This does not mean that we should try to share the gospel with the bunny and egg. What it means is that the bunny and egg have absolutely nothing to do with the cross. They have no connection with the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In light of this, could we please reject the traditional use of "Easter" that permeates so many of our churches? Could we please do away with the Easter Bunny? I beg you, no more Easter Egg hunts after church!

Let's call Sunday what it is - Resurrection Sunday.

7 comments:

jensen said...

I found a fun easter survey that helped get me into the easter spirit. Here's the link, if anyone wants to check it out.
http://blog.globaltestmarket.com/2008/03/19/what-do-you-think-about-easter-take-the-online-poll

Eric said...

I encourage everyone who reads this blog to go to jensen's above-mentioned link and take the survey. What is interesting is the incredibly shallow nature of the questions about "Easter." If this is what the world thinks of "Easter," you can count me out. In fact this survey just supports all I said in this post.

Eric

Brian said...

I was just asking my wife we should do the easter basket thing with our daughter - I grew up with it but I don't know if I want to carry it on or not. Part of it is we just don't have the money and here at the canyon its just too hard to go out of our way to get anything of that sort. I agree though the focus is on the resurrection not pagan traditions.

Eric said...

Brian,

I grew up with it, too. I also had a lot of fun looking for eggs and getting candy. However, as I look back on it, I wish the sole focus would have been on the glory of the resurrection. This can still be made very fun for kids through the retelling of the story and maybe acting it out as a family or church. I think it is great when families and/or churches make a big deal out of it by having a meal together, etc.

Eric said...

Kat,

I somehow accidentally deleted your comment. Sorry! Could you please leave it again? I liked what you had to say.

Rhea said...

Eric:

Have you ever thought of celebrating Passover instead? As in, not trying to celebrate Passover when everyone else is celebrating Easter, but actually observe Passover when it's supposed to be observed.

I've had my own issues/reservations about Easter...and even if I call it "Resurrection Sunday," I think about how I don't know of any Scripture that tells me I must remember/celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as some separate holiday once a year.

Eric said...

Rhea,

Thanks for your question and comment.

I have thought of celebrating Passover separately, but I figure that every time I'm celebrating the Lord's Supper, that is what I am doing. When Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples on the night before he died, he basically changed the Passover meal to focus directly upon his sacrifice. I will say that if we keep the Passover meal in mind as we celebrate the Lord's Supper, it adds even more meaning to the celebration.

One good thing that can come out of "Easter" is the focus on the resurrection. After that, we just have to keep reminding churched-folks that we need to celebrate it all year long.