Why is the Resurrection celebration often called Easter?
At some point in your kids’ life, they will probably be told that Christ’s resurrection is a myth and that it is based on the pagan celebration of Spring Equinox… and it’s called Easter because that’s the celebration of the goddess Ishtar; and an inauguration of spring. Well, is that true?
Let’s see… WHY is there a coinciding of the celebration of the resurrection of Christ and the pagan celebration of Ishtar? It actually goes one step back in our faith history to the Jewish celebration of Passover. Passover is the celebration of the Jewish Exodus from Egypt and its celebration was set around the Spring Equinox in Leviticus 23:5. The timing is probably because that’s when the Barley ripens and it’s involved in the celebration.
Jesus was betrayed and killed during the Passover celebration. Killed on Friday, raised on a Sunday. (Please note that at the time of Christ, Jewish days of the week went from sundown to sundown, not midnight to midnight.) Most Christians celebrate the resurrection at the same time that Passover is celebrated.
At some point in Church history, when some pagans were converted, the celebration overlapped their Spring festival, Ishtar, and thus the celebration was still called Easter, even though it’s not the same party. Some of our Easter traditions in America can be directly attributed to the way things were celebrated in the pagan celebration. Eggs, Bunnies, overflowing baskets and so-forth are signs of fertility and new life that comes in Spring. Like elements in many other holidays Christians celebrate, we can redeem these things as pointers to the Gospel. New life that is found in Christ alone, for instance.
Regardless of the fact that Easter is a pagan holiday; Christ was killed in history during Passover. He did not stay dead, but rose on the 3rd day. That makes this the most important of all Christian celebrations. However you choose to celebrate it in your home, be sure that your kids learn that the tomb was empty on Sunday morning, and that brings us hope!
Happy Passover, Happy Easter, Happy Resurrection Sunday! He IS Risen