Jim Akin: Easter A Pagan Holiday? Not a chance!

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Q: Isn’t Easter a pagan rather than a Christian holiday, as shown by its very name by the fact that its date is determined by the full moon after the Spring equinox?


A: By Jim Akin – Anyone making this charge shows a total lack of comprehension of global Christianity. In fact, only a person speaking English or German could even possibly make this charge.
First, let’s deal with the date. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon following March 21 (historically, the Spring equinox).

The reason, however, has nothing to do with paganism. It has everything to do with Judaism and with Christ’s Resurrection.

Christ was resurrected on Sunday — the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1) — thus since the First Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 all Christians have celebrated his Resurrection on Sunday.

Prior to that, most celebrated it on Sunday, but some, known as Quartodecimians (“Fourteenth-ers”) celebrated it on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan, when Passover occurred.

At First Nicaea all Christians agreed to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ on first Sunday after 14 Nisan because that
was the day Christ was Resurrected in the first century — the Sunday after Passover.

Because first century Jews used a lunar calendar, every month was twenty-eight days long, beginning with the new moon and having the full moon on the 14th of the month. Nisan, being the month in which the Spring equinox occurred, always had Passover — the 14th of Nisan — falling on the first full moon on or after the Spring equinox.

Thus since Passover was always on or after the first full moon after the Spring equinox, and since the Resurrection was the first Sunday after Passover, Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21 (historically, the Spring equinox).

There is nothing about a pagan lunar celebration in here. It has nothing to do with paganism, but everything to do with the Resurrection of Christ in its Jewish-Passover context.

Now let us deal with the name of Easter.

The fact is that there are only two languages in which the name has any pagan associations whatsoever
— English and German.

This, of course, is a problem for King James Only-ites, since the term “Easter” appears in the King James Version in
Acts 12:4 as a translation for the Jewish holiday of Passover. In English, of course, the name is “Easter” and in German “Ostern.”

These are related in name to a pagan spring festival, whose name, if you check a dictionary, was derived from the prehistoric West Germanic word akin to the Old English term east, which means, simply enough, “east,” the direction of the rising sun.

It has nothing to do, contrary to what you will hear from some anti-Easter-ites, with the goddess Ishtar.

But in virtually every language except English and German, the name of Easter is derived from the Jewish word Pesach or “Passover.”

Thus in Greek the term for Easter is Pascha, in Latin the term is also Pascha.

From there it passed into the Romance languages, and so in Spanish it is Pascua, in Italian it is Pasqua, in French it is Paques, and in Portugese it is Pascoa.

It also passed into the non-Romance languages, such as the Germanic languages Dutch, where it is Pasen and Danish,
where it is Paaske.

Thus only in the highly Protestant countries of Germany (where the Reformation started) and England (where the intense persecution and martyrdom of Catholics was the harshest), does the term “Easter” have any pagan associations at all.

So perhaps in these two Protestant countries paganism was not sufficiently stamped out to use the Judeo-Christian term
for the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection that was used everywhere else in Europe.

Submitted by Doria2

3 Comments

  1. You said “So perhaps in these two Protestant countries paganism was not sufficiently stamped out to use the Judeo-Christian term” and yet you said in the title “Easter A Pagan Holiday? Not a chance!” That foot is probably too big in your mouth and blocked your eyes.

  2. You’ve claimed that ‘Easter’ comes from ‘Pascha’ but you have failed to perform the necessary (yet impossible) philological acrobatics to demonstrate the etymological connection between Greek ‘Pascha’ and O.E. ‘Eostre’. Scholars seem to be in agreement that the etymology of ‘Eostre’ is that it was the name of a pre-Christian Germanic goddess named – ‘Austro’. How can ‘Easter’ come from ‘Pascha’ when it precedes it?

    • David, Jimmy Akin provides an excellent explanation. You just need to research and study the details until they begin to make sense to you.

      The Catholic Church has been consistently celebrating the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, since the Last Supper itself. Paschal is derived from Passover. Jesus became our Passover when he instituted the New Covenant in his blood at the Last Supper, which anticipated his saving death on the cross and his subsequent glorious resurrection, etc.

      We Catholics have been celebrating Christ’s life, death and resurrection – the Paschal Mystery – every Sunday – ever since.

      Call it whatever you want. We know what we’re doing, precisely who we’re worshiping (Jesus Christ) and why we’re doing it.

      The Catechism of the Catholic Church deals with this completely, with some 27 different specific references.

      See them here:

      http://ccc.scborromeo.org.master.com/texis/master/search/?sufs=0&q=paschal+mystery&xsubmit=Search&s=SS

      Thanks for writing.

      Doug


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