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Is Easter Really a Christian Celebration?

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.”

Philippe Walter, a professor of medieval literature, explains how such customs became part of the Easter celebration. He wrote that “in the process of the Christianization of pagan religions,” it was easy to associate the pagan festival that celebrated “the passage from the death of winter to the life of springtime” with Jesus’ resurrection. Walter adds that it was a key step in introducing “Christian commemorations” to the pagan calendar, thus smoothing the way to mass conversion.

This process of “Christianization” did not occur while the apostles were still alive, because they acted as a “restraint” against paganism. (2 Thessalonians 2:7) The apostle Paul warned that after his “going away,” men would “rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29, 30) And late in the first century, the apostle John wrote that some men were already misleading Christians. (1 John 2:18, 26) The way was open for the eventual adoption of pagan customs.

“Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers.”2 Corinthians 6:14

Some may feel, however, that allowing some of the Easter customs was not wrong—that it gave “pagans” a better understanding of the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection. Paul, however, would never have agreed. Although exposed to many pagan customs while traveling through the Roman Empire, he never adopted any of them to give people a better understanding of Jesus. On the contrary, he warned the Christians: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness? ‘Therefore, get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing.’”2 Corinthians 6:14, 17.

What is the result of our brief examination of the details? It has clearly revealed that Easter is not a Christian celebration.