Truth, Understanding, Insight

Easter: A hybrid feast

21st April 2011, mgh


1) Why Easter is not Passover

The death, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Y'shua Anointed) are intimately associated with the Jewish Passover. The sacrifice of the lamb at the time of the Passover represented the salvation of the Jews from their bondage in Egypt. Paramount to the Jewish faith was the sacrifice of animals for forgiveness of sins. With Jesus' sinless life and his crucifixion by the Romans at the request of the Jews, Y'shua (as a Jew) fulfilled the requirements of the Law of Moses and became the perfect sacrifice that once and for all would allow for the forgiveness of sins and open the way of salvation for both Jew and Gentile.

The remembrance of Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection is also associated with Easter, which occurs usually in the months March-April, which is the time in the northern hemisphere when the shrouds of cold and snow thaw from the earth and spring heralds a new season of growth.

The celebration of Easter falls close to the Jewish Passover and related to the phase of the moon.

But what do eggs, chickens, rabbits and chocolate, a feature of the celebration of Easter, have to do with Jesus' (Y'shua's) sacrifice? Absolutely nothing!

Origin of the word Easter

The first real issue related to Easter is the origin of the word 'Easter'. It is not a Christian name.

When the Anglo-Saxons were sun worshipping pagans, the spring solstice was called 'Eostre' and was a time of worship of a fertility goddess.

The Anglo-Saxons called April Oster-monath or Eostur-monath. The Venerable Bede says that this month is the root of the word Easter. He further speculates that the month was named after a goddess Eostre whose feast was in that month. Wikipedia 'April'

There is evidence of trade from the Mediterranean to Britain. Trade is recorded by Herodotus as existing before 445BCE. Two Greek inscribed alters found at Corbridge in Britain are to the cult Astarte and Hercules of Tyre (Miranda Jane Aldhouse-Green, The Gods of Roman Britain). Astarte was the ancient Phoenician great goddess of fertility, motherhood and war. Astarte, which is also one of the titles of Beltis. the 'queen of heaven', whose name is pronounced by the ancient people of Nineveh as Ishtar and is found on ancient Assyrian monuments. It is a word of pagan origin. The goddess Astarte existed in many Middle Eastern cultures under various names and was the Aphrodite of the Greeks and Venus of the Romans.

Easter Rites from Babylon

In the the third and fourth centuries, although not of Apostolic origin, the Roman Church observed a commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, called Pasch or the Passover, which was at the time of the Jewish Passover. The Rev Alexander Hislop in his book, 'The Two Babylons', after extensive research has stated about Easter:

“The popular observances that still attend the period of its celebrations amply confirm the testimony of history as to its Babylonian character. The hot cross buns of Good Friday, and the dyed eggs of Pasch or Easter Sunday, figured in the Chaldean rites just as they do now. The 'buns,' known too by that identical name, were used in the worship of the queen of heaven, the goddess Easter, as early as the days of Cecrops, the founder of Athens – that is 1500 years before the Christian era. 'One species of bread,' says Bryant, 'which used to be offered to the gods, was of great antiquity, and called Boun.... which were made of fine flour and honey'.”

The prophet Jeremiah made reference to this type of offering made by some Jews, which was condemned by God.

“The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven.” (Jeremiah 7: 18)

Hislop states that the ancient origin and widespread use of the symbolic egg is also clear.

“The ancient Druids bore an egg, as the sacred emblem of their order. In the Dionysiaca, or mysteries of the Bacchus, as celebrated in Athens, one part of the nocturnal ceremony consisted in the consecration of an egg. The Hindu fables celebrate their mundane egg as of a golden colour. The people of Japan make their sacred egg to have been brazen. In China... dyed or painted eggs are used on sacred festivals...In ancient times eggs were used in the religious rites of the Egyptians and the Greeks and were hung up in their temples for mystic purposes... The classic poets are full of the fable of the mystic egg of the Babylonians... The egg became one of the symbols of Astarte or Easter.”

A pagan Easter

It is also claimed by the eighth century Benedictine monk Bede that the pagan worship of Eostre existed among the Anglo-Saxons. Eostre was a goddess celebrated at the spring equinox. The Old English term derives from 'east' and she was regarded as the goddess of fertility and worshipped in the spring equinox, one of only two times in the year when the sun rises directly in the East.

When the Saxons arrived in Britain, they brought with them their Eostre festival with its rebirth and fertility rituals, involving eggs, rabbits and chickens. Their conversion to Christianity led to a fusing of the pagan rituals with the Passover and death and resurrection of Christ.

What the Egg Symbolized

In most pagan cultures, the egg has represented rebirth. The Egyptians buried eggs in their tombs and the Greeks likewise placed eggs on graves. The ancient Chinese gave red painted eggs. It is likely the Ukranian traditional practice of Pysanky, involving decorating eggs with symbols and colours had the same source. The designs on the eggs from this pagan era represented air, fire and water. When Christianity came to the Ukraine, designs on the eggs were changed into symbols of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thus blending pagan and Christian symbols. In the UK and Europe, the earliest Easter eggs were painted in bright colours to represent the coming of spring and the growth of new plants and birth of animals. In the 1800's chocolate eggs made their appearance in Europe and the first Faberge egg of gold and jewels was made in Russia for Czar Alexander 111's wife.

The Bunny

Pagan symbols of fertility still exist in the Easter Bunny, which brings the eggs. The rabbit is legendary for its ability to reproduce. What does it mean when a symbol of fertility brings a symbol of re-birth? The character of the re-birth speaks of unrestrained abundance, and can never speak of the uniqueness of the resurrection of a singular Messiah.

The Compromise Producing a Hybrid Fusion

Thus it must be clear that Jesus' death and resurrection had nothing to do with Easter and the appendages of Easter which are of pagan origin. Although not an Apostolic precedent, the Roman Church introduced Pasch, a celebration of the Passover to represent Jesus' crucifixion. As a remembrance of Jesus' death and resurrection, the Apostles each week took bread and wine on the first day of the week. After 450AD, the fusion of paganism and Christianity by the Roman Church to conciliate the pagans to a nominal Christianity, became increasingly evident with the introduction of the pagan fast of Lent, which was a preliminary to the great annual festival to commemorate the death and resurrection of Tammuz, the ancient Sumerian deity, the lover of Ishtar and god of fertility.

The Bible makes mention of Tammuz. Mourning ceremonies were observed at the Temple door in Jerusalem and the Biblical comment related to Tammuz is very clear.

“Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord's house which was toward the north; and behold there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.” (Ezekiel 8: 14-15)

The keeping of the worship of Tammuz and thus the keeping of Lent in the eyes of God is an abomination.

Unto the Lord

Some might use Paul's advice to the Romans and Colossians as permission to keep Pagan festivals.

He that regards the day, regards it unto the Lord; and he that regards not the day, to the Lord he does not regard it. (Romans 14:5-6)
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: (Colossians.2:16)

However 'holyday', 'new moon' and 'Sabbath' are words that can only describe Jewish worship. The 'holydays' and 'new moons' were related to the true historic worship of Yahweh defined in the Jewish calendar, which Jewish believers had permission to keep as long as they remembered Y'shua in keeping them.


Hislop, Alexander (Rev.), 1929. 'The Two Babylons', 4th Ed, Partridge. London.

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