Easter—Another Christian Holiday Full of Pagan Symbolism

2012 is going by rather fast, isn’t it?  Can you believe that it is already Easter Week?

For Christians, this is one of the most holy times of year.  Good Friday represents Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and Easter represents his resurrection and ascension into Heaven.  Believers are filled with the faith that Jesus will return one day, and have for centuries believed that we are in the end of times and that the second coming of the Christ is drawing near.

Did you know that early Christians did not celebrate Easter?  They instead celebrated the Passover, just as Jesus had.

When I found this out, I became interested in knowing when and why they made Easter a major holiday all over the world.  I am now going to share the information I got from extensive research with you.

Some of you may already know this information, but some of you may be running into this for the first time, so I hope that I can educate you and get you interested in doing some research of your own.

The Beginning of Easter in the Christian Church

Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea.

Icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the Year 325 A.D., Roman Emperor Constantine invited all the bishops of the early Christian Church to attend the First Council of Nicaea in what is now the country of Turkey.   The council was brought together predominately to set up a creed of faith for Christianity, now known as the original Nicene Creed.  This creed clearly defined what the religion is and how to be included among the faithful.

This council also agreed on an appropriate day to celebrate the Easter holiday.  This agreement is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1170 At the council of Nicaea in 325, all the churches agreed that Easter, the Christian Passover, should be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon.

The early Christian church established this holiday instead of continuing to celebrate the Passover simply to differentiate itself from Judaism.  Constantine and other leaders in the Roman Empire detested the Jews and wanted to have nothing in common with that religion.

But despite establishing Easter as a “Christian Passover”, many early Christians still celebrated the old Passover, and some were even put to death for not making the switch.

Constantine and his crowd only established the day to celebrate Jesus Christ rising from the dead.  Rabbits who laid and hid eggs were not part of the celebration in those days.  In fact, the Easter Bunny, eggs, baby chicks, and boatloads of chocolate have nothing at all to do with Christ’s resurrection.  (Some Christians believe that the bunny and eggs represent the crucifixion and sacrifice, but this isn’t true for all.)

So how did the Easter Bunny get mixed up with Christians and Jesus?  It happened pretty much the same way trees and mistletoe got mixed up with Christmas and the birth of Jesus….

The Origin of the Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny postcard circa early 20th century

Easter postcard circa early 20th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Easter Bunny is like a springtime Santa Claus.  It lays eggs and then hides them in yards, gardens, and homes.  Good children find them while the bad children walk away empty-handed.

So how did this tradition get started?  Like the Christmas tree, mistletoe, Yule logs, and even Christmas carols, we can go back to Pagan Germany around the 13th century for the origin of the beloved Easter Bunny and its colorful eggs.

Pre-Christian Germans were polytheistic, meaning they worshiped many gods and goddesses.  One of those deities was called Eostre, the goddess of fertility.  Eostre was honored with a feast every year during the Spring Equinox and her symbol, the rabbit, was considered sacred.  Many pagans believed the animal was Eostre in her earthly form.

So now we know that the Easter Bunny isn’t the creation of a department store hoping to commercialize a Christian holiday; it was actually a part of a Pagan holiday and later incorporated into Christianity to mean something completely different from its original meaning.  And some Christians (dare I say most of them) just ignore the bunny and baskets and candy all together.

Please feel free to share this post with your friends, family, and anyone else you think might enjoy this post!  Thanks for your support.

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7 responses

  1. Thank you , this is great.

    1. Thanks for reading, Richard.

  2. [...] Easter – Another Christian Holiday Full of Pagan Symbolism (punchdrunkinsomniac.wordpress.com) [...]

  3. [...] Easter – Another Christian Holiday Full of Pagan Symbolism (punchdrunkinsomniac.wordpress.com) [...]

  4. [...] Tuesday I talked about the history of Easter and the Easter Bunny.  Today the attention is on the good old Easter bonnet…and the Easter Parade in New York [...]

  5. [...] Easter – Another Christian Holiday Full of Pagan Symbolism (punchdrunkinsomniac.wordpress.com) [...]

  6. [...] Easter – Another Christian Holiday Full of Pagan Symbolism (punchdrunkinsomniac.wordpress.com) [...]

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