By The Librarian
The Bible’s answer
The celebration of Easter is not based on the Bible. If you look into its history, though, you will see the true meaning of Easter—it is a tradition based on ancient fertility rites. Consider the following.
Name: The Encyclopædia Britannica says: “The English name Easter is of uncertain origin; the Anglo-Saxon priest Venerable Bede in the 8th century derived it from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre.” Others link it to Astarte, the Phoenician fertility goddess who had the Babylonian counterpart Ishtar.
Hares, rabbits: These are symbols of fertility “handed down from the ancient ceremonial and symbolism of European and Middle Eastern pagan spring festivals.”—Encyclopædia Britannica.
Eggs: According to Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, the hunt for Easter eggs, supposedly brought by the Easter rabbit, “is not mere child’s play, but the vestige of a fertility rite.” Some cultures believed that the decorated Easter egg “could magically bring happiness, prosperity, health, and protection.”—Traditional Festivals.
New Easter outfit: “It was considered discourteous and therefore bad luck to greet the Scandinavian goddess of Spring, or Eastre, in anything but fresh garb.”—The Giant Book of Superstitions.
Sunrise services: These have been linked to rites of ancient sun worshippers “performed at the vernal equinox welcoming the sun and its great power to bring new life to all growing things.”—Celebrations—The Complete Book of American Holidays.
The American Book of Days well describes the origin of Easter: “There is no doubt that the Church in its early days adopted the old pagan customs and gave a Christian meaning to them.”
The Bible warns against worshipping God by following traditions or customs that displease him. (Mark 7:6-8) Second Corinthians 6:17 states: “‘Separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing.’” Easter is a pagan holiday that those who want to please God will avoid.
By Bible Speaks
OUR READERS ASK . . .
Is Easter Really a Christian Celebration?
Easter is described in the Encyclopædia Britannica as the “principal festival of the Christian church that celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.” However, is it a Christian celebration?
To establish the authenticity of an artifact, attention to detail is critical. Similarly, for us to see whether Easter is a Christian celebration, it is essential that we take a look at the details related to Easter.
First of all, Jesus asked his followers to commemorate, not his resurrection, but his death. The apostle Paul called this occasion “the Lord’s Evening Meal.”—1 Corinthians 11:20;Luke 22:19, 20.
Additionally, many of the Easter traditions “have little to do” with Jesus’ resurrection, states the Britannica, “but derive from folk customs.” For instance, regarding the popular Easter symbols the egg and the rabbit, The Encyclopedia of Religion says: “The egg symbolizes new life breaking through the apparent death (hardness) of the eggshell.” It adds: “The rabbit was known as an extraordinarily fertile creature, and hence it symbolized the coming of spring."
Easter. “There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament,” states The Encyclopædia Britannica. How did Easter get started? It is rooted in pagan worship. While this holiday is supposed to commemorate Jesus’ resurrection, the customs associated with the Easter season are not Christian. For instance, concerning the popular “Easter bunny,” The Catholic Encyclopedia says: “The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility.”
EASTER—FERTILITY WORSHIP IN DISGUISE
Promoted as a celebration of Christ’s resurrection, Easter is actually rooted in false religion. The name Easter itself has been linked to Eostre, or Ostara, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn and of spring. And how did eggs and rabbits come to be associated with Easter? Eggs “have been prominent as symbols of new life and resurrection,” says the Encyclopædia Britannica, while the hare and the rabbit have long served as symbols of fertility. Easter, therefore, is really a fertility rite thinly disguised as a celebration of Christ’s resurrection.*
Would Jehovah condone the use of a filthy fertility rite to commemorate his Son’s resurrection? Never! (2 Corinthians 6:17, 18) In fact, the Scriptures neither command nor authorize the commemorating of Jesus’ resurrection in the first place. To do so in the name of Easter, therefore, is to be doubly disloyal.
* Barnhart, Robert K. (1995). The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology: The Origins of American English Words. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-270084-7
* Billson, Charles J. (1892). "The Easter Hare" as published in Folk-Lore, Vol. 3, No. 4 (December 1892). Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of Folklore Enterprises Ltd.
* Boyle, John Andrew (1974). "The Hare in Myth and Reality: A Review Article" as published in Folklore, Vol. 84, No. 4 (Winter, 1973). Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of Folklore Enterprises Ltd.
* Cusack, Carole M. (2008). "The Return of the Goddess: Mythology, Witchcraft and Feminist Spirituality" as published in Pizza, Murphy. Lewis, James R. (Editors). Handbook of Contemporary Paganism. Brill Publishers. ISBN 9004163735
* Diesel, Andreas. Gerten, Dieter (2007). Looking for Europe: Neofolk und Hintergründe. Index Verlag. ISBN 3-936878-02-1
* Grimm, Jacob (James Steven Stallybrass Trans.) (1882). Teutonic Mythology: Translated from the Fourth Edition with Notes and Appendix Vol. I. London: George Bell and Sons.
* Grimm, Jacob (James Steven Stallybrass Trans.) (1883). Teutonic Mythology: Translated from the Fourth Edition with Notes and Appendix Vol. II. London: George Bell and Sons.
* Hubbard, Benjamin Jerome. Hatfield, John T. Santucci, James A. (2007). An Educator's Classroom Guide to America's Religious Beliefs and Practices. Libraries Unlimited. ISBN 1-59158-409-4
* Giles, John Allen (1843). The Complete Works of the Venerable Bede, in the Original Latin, Collated with the Manuscripts, and Various Print Editions, Accompanied by a New English Translation of the Historical Works, and a Life of the Author. Vol. VI: Scientific Tracts and Appendix. London: Whittaker and Co., Ave Maria Lane.
* Mallory, J. P.; Adams, Douglas Q. (1997). Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 1-884964-98-2.
* Shaw, Philip A. (2011). Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda and the Cult of Matrons. Bristol Classical Press. ISBN 978-0-7156-3797-5
* Schmadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names, fifth edition, illustrated. Springer. ISBN 3-540-00238-3
* Simek, Rudolf (2007) translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. D.S. Brewer. ISBN 0-85991-513-1
* Wallis, Faith (Trans.) (1999). Bede: The Reckoning of Time. Liverpool University Press. ISBN 0-85323-693-3
* Watkins, Calvert (2006 ). The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0-618-08250-6
By Bible Speaks
The Truth About Easter. Â“There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament,Â” statesÂ The EncyclopÃ¦dia Britannica.Â
How did Easter get started? It is rooted in pagan worship. While this holiday is supposed to commemorate JesusÂ’ resurrection, the customs associated with the Easter season are not Christian. For instance, concerning the popular Â“Easter bunny,Â”Â The Catholic EncyclopediaÂ says: Â“The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility.Â”
By Guest Nicole
The cupcakes above are patterned after simnel cake, also known as Judas cake. It is traditionally topped with 11 marzipan balls to represent Jesus' 12 apostles, minus Judas.
Easter is associated with currant-studded hot-cross buns and chocolatey eggs – foods that symbolize rebirth and renewal. But what about Judas cake? Or Judas beer? Or Judas bread?
Judas Iscariot, the archvillain of Christianity who betrayed Jesus with a kiss, has an intriguing range of food and drink named after him – some traditionally consumed in the days leading up to Easter.
Some of Judas' namesake foodstuffs, like the Judas fig, were so christened thanks to dark medieval depictions, while others, like the fiery Judas ketchup and the ultrastrong Judas ale, have more playful contemporary roots. What binds them, though, is their association with blood and death and treachery.
"Judas is mentioned 22 times across the four Gospels, but the only parts where he plays a key role are the Last Supper and at the Garden of Gethsemane, where he betrays Christ," says Peter Stanford, author of Judas: The Most Hated Name in History. "Judas' name has become easy shorthand for treachery. Take, for instance, the Judas Blond, a popular Belgian beer which my publishers gave me when the book was published. It looks very pale and weak, but it's actually quite strong, so it's treacherously hiding its strength."
In his book, Stanford, who is British, points to the popular English Easter confection called simnel cake (from the Latin for "fine flour"), which is sometimes referred to as Judas cake.
"It's a delicious fruit cake with layers of marzipan, and it dates back to the 13th century," he says. "In the Victorian era, it was decorated with a circle of 11 marzipan balls to represent the apostles, sans Judas, of course. There was a double space left blank where the Judas ball is meant to be."
In recent years, bakers who feel that Judas has been punished enough have begun to boldly place a 12th ball on their simnel cakes. This act has opened them to charges of moral equivalence.
But Stanford, who feels Judas has gotten a raw deal, is all approval.
Peter Stanford poses with his book Judas: The Most Hated Name in History and two bottles of Judas, a Belgian beer that looks pale but is treacherously strong.
Courtesy of Kit Stanford
"If you read Matthew's Gospel – and Matthew is the only one who gives us the detail of the 30 pieces of silver – he shows Judas feeling remorseful and going back to the temple to give the money back to the high priests," Stanford says. "He wants to make atonement, and he is so guilt-ridden that he hangs himself. So he has paid his dues. On a theological level, too, if you believe God is all-powerful and that he sent his son to earth to be killed as part of a divine plan, the fact that Judas betrayed Jesus, unpleasant as it might be, is simply Judas doing God's work. So, yes, he deserves his marzipan ball."
Others would agree. A few years ago, Peter's Europa House, an upscale restaurant in Shohola, Pa., introduced an Easter-themed menu with dishes named after the 12 apostles. Along with Matthew's Mozzarella, Bartholomew's Surf & Turf and Philip's Shrimp Cocktail, it has offered patrons a Judas Casserole and Judas' Chicken.
"I included Judas because he was one of the apostles," says owner Peter Jajcay. "My personal belief is that he was one of the strongest apostles, which is why I didn't want to leave him out. To be able to betray Jesus you have to be very strong. And, no, I've never had any negative feedback from my customers."
The story of Judas' hanging spawned a pretty Czech Easter bun called the Judas rope. These plaited buns – called Jidáše in the plural – are made with flour, butter, milk and egg yolks, and are traditionally served along with honey for breakfast on Maundy Thursday to commemorate the Last Supper.
Even legends about the tree that Judas hanged himself from have become a rich source of Judas namesakes, especially since accounts vary wildly about what kind of tree it was.
"According to one popular European invention, it was the fig tree," says Stanford. "Renaissance paintings of the Last Supper have a standard array of symbolic fruit, such as pomegranates, whose seeds recall the Resurrection; cherries, whose redness mark the blood of Christ that will soon be spilt; and the Judas fig, a foretaste of the traitor's death."
But another legend has it that Judas hanged himself from an elder tree. Which is why a rubbery, brownish-pinkish, ear-shaped fungus that grows profusely on the live and dead branches of the elder is known as Judas' Ear.
"It's supposed to be a manifestation of Judas' unquiet spirit," says Stanford. Cold and soft, it even has the texture of a human ear. And though it sounds unappealing, it tastes delicious in stir-fry, noodle soup and pad thai.
For wine lovers, there's the Judas Malbec, a rich, ripe and potent red from Mendoza, Argentina, and the mildly fizzy Sangue di Giuda, which translates as "Blood of Judas," from Italy's Lombardy region.
From a rubbery fungus to an ale that "may tempt you to evil deeds," foods named after Judas resonate with the dark characteristics of their namesake.
"Christianity tends to paint the world in black and white terms, so we shuffle all the bad things onto Judas," says Stanford. "And though we live in a time where conventional religious belief is fading – many people, for instance, might not be able to tell you the whole Easter story – when it comes to Judas, there's no confusion. In football, when a player changes teams for a higher fee and appears on the field, there are chants of 'Judas, Judas.' When Bob Dylan was called Judas by a fan for abandoning his acoustic guitar for an electric one and thereby betraying folk music, he was absolutely furious. Forty years on, he was still furious about it. He may have overreacted, but it shows that Judas still has the power to wound."
Just ask Paul Hollywood, a judge on The Great British Bake Off (also known as The Great British Baking Show in the U.S.). Last year, when the BBC lost the beloved baking program to its rival, Channel 4, judge Mary Berry and the two pun-loving, blazer-wearing hosts, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, quit out of loyalty to the BBC.
But Hollywood chose to stay on. Irate fans labeled him a Judas and accused him of chasing the dough rather than sticking with his mates.
It should be noted that despite these angry charges, Hollywood's recipe for simnel cake still calls for only 11 marzipan balls.
By Guest Nicole
Most Christians are unaware that Easter is a pagan festival surreptitiously merged with Christianity. Easter is not a Christian holiday. The word Easter is not even scriptural; it does not exist in true translations of the bible. Easter was smuggled into the King James Bible in Acts 12:4, where it was substituted for the original word; “Passover:” “When (Herod) had apprehended (Peter), he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.” As a matter of fact, the word Easter only appears in the King James Version of English bible translations. It does not exist in any other English bible translation. Even the King James Version was forced to remove it from its revised version, known as the New King James Version.
Queen of Heaven
Most Christians are unaware that Easter is a pagan festival surreptitiously merged with Christianity. Noah’s son, Ham, married a woman called Ashtoreth. In some cultures, Ashtoreth is called Ishtar, which is transliterated in English as Easter. Ashtoreth made herself “the Queen of Heaven;” the goddess of fertility and became an object of worship. This idol worship of Ashtoreth, later camouflaged in Christendom as Easter, is specifically forbidden in the scriptures. God says: “The women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. Do they provoke me to anger? Do they not provoke themselves, to the shame of their own faces? Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, my anger and my fury will be poured out on this place.” (Jeremiah 7:17-20). God punished Israel for succumbing to the worship of Ashtoreth (Ishtar): “They forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel. So he delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them.” (Judges 2:13-14). Accordingly, Samuel counselled Israel to forsake Ashtoreth (Ishtar) worship: “Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, ‘If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve him only; and he will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” (1 Samuel 7:3).
Ham and Ashtoreth gave birth to a son called Nimrod. After Ham’s death, Nimrod married Ashtoreth; his own mother, and became a powerful king of ancient Babylon. When Nimrod was also killed, Ashtoreth deified him as sun-god or life-giver. Indeed, Easter means “movement towards the rising sun.” It pertains to the religious rites of people who worship the sun and the signs of the heavens. Sun worship is expressly forbidden in the scriptures. Ezekiel says: “I was then led into the temple’s inner courtyard, where I saw about twenty-five men standing near the entrance, between the porch and the altar. Their backs were to the LORD’s temple, and they were bowing down to the rising sun. God said, ‘Ezekiel, it’s bad enough that the people of Judah are doing these disgusting things.’” (Ezekiel 8:16-17). Nevertheless, following this pagan tradition, “Sunrise Services” are conducted on Easter Sunday mornings in many Christian denominations.
Hot crossed buns
In Western Europe, it is traditional to eat hot-crossed buns on Easter Sunday morning. This is where we get the limerick: “Hot crossed buns; hot crossed buns. One a-penny, two a-penny, hot crossed buns.” These small sweet buns are usually decorated with solar crosses made of white icing. They were consecrated in ancient Greece to the goddess of the sunrise. In ancient Babylon, the buns were offered to the Queen of Heaven; the goddess of Easter.
After the death of Nimrod, Ashtoreth (Ishtar) gave birth to Tammuz, a son she claimed was Nimrod reborn. When Tammuz was killed by a wild boar, Ashtoreth instituted an annual ritual of 40 days of mourning for Baal worshippers, when no meat was allowed to be eaten. This pagan tradition of “weeping for Tammuz” is specifically proscribed in the scriptures. God said to Ezekiel: “Turn again, and you will see greater abominations that they are doing.” So he brought me to the door of the north gate of the LORD’S house; and to my dismay, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz.” (Ezekiel 8:13-14). Nevertheless, weeping for Tammuz has been absorbed into Christianity by the institution of Lent; a 40-day period of fasting and prayer observed in some Christian denominations as a prelude to Easter. Just like Easter, Lent is not scriptural. Neither the word nor the custom exist in the bible. Lent begins, according to Christian tradition, on Ash Wednesday; which is also pagan. The ashes were said to be the seed of the Indian fire god, Agni, deemed to have the power to forgive sins.
Because of their prolific nature in reproduction, rabbits were associated with Ishtar, the goddess of fertility. This is where Christians borrowed the tradition of the Easter bunny. Ancient Babylonians believed an egg fell into the Euphrates River from the moon. Queen Ishtar was apparently “hatched” from this egg. This moon egg was called Ishtar’s egg; which became in Christendom Easter egg.
Have you noticed that your birthday falls on different days from year to year? So how come the celebration of Easter always falls on Friday and on Sunday? Moreover, unlike your birthday, the date for Easter changes from year to year. Sometimes it is in March; sometimes in April. Easter moves from year to year because the date has nothing to do with the death and resurrection of Jesus but with the changing cycles of the moon. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first Vernal Equinox full moon; which is consecrated by pagans as Ishtar’s Sunday. This signifies the astronomical arrival of spring. The pagan belief is that the sun dies at winter (Christmas) and is reborn at spring (Easter).
Good Friday is also a misnomer. Jesus was not crucified on a Friday. The week in which he was crucified contained two Sabbaths and he was crucified on a Wednesday. The following Thursday was a high Sabbath day; the first day of unleavened bread. Jesus did not resurrect on a Sunday. He resurrected on a Saturday, which was a regular weekly Sabbath day different from the high Sabbath of the preceding Thursday. Mary Magdalene discovered the empty tomb on Sunday morning, while it was still dark. Christians should realise that from Friday evening to Sunday morning does not constitute three days and three nights in the grave, but one day and two nights.
The decision to change the day of the resurrection to Sunday was simply a continuation of the Babylonian tradition. Nimrod was ostensibly resurrected on a Sunday; a day devoted to worshipping the sun. By AD 321, Constantine established Sunday as part of the official state religion, and the Sabbath was statutorily changed from Saturday to Sunday. Christians should desist from celebrating Easter: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are vanity.’” (Jeremiah 10:2-3).
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