Is Easter Pagan?
Warning: Always do your own research. Our intention is to only accept narratives by doing the research ourselves. Our intention is never to offend. However, going against familiar narratives to get to the truth will produce offenses. We apologize in advance.
Not long ago, I was sitting with someone I respect. He said, “Easter is pagan." I inquired as to how he arrived at that knowledge, and he mentioned something about the goddess Ishtar and Easter being the same. I said Easter was a Germanic word for spring, so how could it be Ishtar?
No, Easter is not pagan today. "Well, Ric, when I search on google for the origins of Easter, it shows it had pagan roots." "Ah, the Internet," I said with a frustrated sigh. As researchers, to be correct, we must dig deeper. Easter is not from a pagan goddess. Ishtar was a Babylonian goddess that "SOUNDS LIKE" Easter; however, there is no link in etymology, as the article below will show.
This article explains the background of Easter from Baylor University. "Well, Ric, what about Easter bunnies and eggs? Aren't they pagan?" They are not pagan, and they are recent modern inventions. The article provides details.
After reading the article, we are back to continue studying why Christians celebrate Easter Sunday.
A Time for the Gospel
Those against Easter and Christmas have the same talking points. "Christmas and Easter are pagan." The assumption is that a good Christian will not celebrate this time of the year because someone said it is pagan, or worse, we are worshipping pagan deities.
If these accusations are true about Easter, is there a problem of laziness because of a lack of research on our part? Worse, if a group in our circle of influence believes this and we do not know why they think this is true, are we giving into a type of adult peer pressure? A passionate argument of "Easter is pagan" can come from a good motivation, but the person echoing this comment may not have done any research. The person does not want to offend God. Good idea. However, if proper research is done, we will find that the concerns are not valid to actual history.
We can be at peace to celebrate Easter because Christ's resurrection gave us peace with God. What if the result is to focus on not celebrating Easter because it is pagan, and we lose an opportunity to share why we celebrate Easter and do not present the Gospel? Like Christmas, this time of the year is to celebrate the Gospel.
Another close friend came to Christ just over a year and prayed for his family to come to the knowledge of salvation. His youngest sister shared with him that she had no idea Easter was about the Lord Jesus Christ. She was unchurched. My friend used the opportunity to share the Gospel, and she came to Christ! Three weeks later, she died of a heart attack! Christmas and Easter are a time to focus on Christ and what He did for us on that horrid tree.
Others believe Easter is pagan and tell us not to celebrate Easter for another reason: to celebrate the Jewish Passover.
Should a Christian celebrate Passover (Jewish) or Easter (Christian)?
Now that we have settled that Easter is not pagan, we can move on to another problem. Our faith in Christ has Jewish roots. The Jewish nation was founded on leaving Egypt as slaves to become a nation around their belief in God. To leave Egypt, they performed the Passover meal of the lamb. But first, those who believed in God were warned that the Destroyer would come and kill the firstborn children throughout the land. To prevent the Destroyer from visiting their homes, the Hebrews had to kill, eat and sprinkle the blood of a lamb on their doorposts. Believing in God's word and acting on it caused the Destroyer to "Passover" the house. Therefore, up to 1.5-2.5 million people left Egypt. The Jews were to celebrate Passover every year. The feast is called “unleavened bread” because the Jews left Egypt quickly without leavening their bread. Our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on the Passover without sin (because He is God) and was designated the Passover lamb. Exodus 12.
Yet, for some reason, Christians celebrate Easter versus Passover. Why should that be? Simply because of calendars, the resurrection, and unleavened bread.
Christians view the first day of the week (Sunday) as the day Christ rose from the dead and therefore call it "the Lord’s Day." The celebration of Easter is not linked to the Jewish calendar but to a day. Sunday became the traditional day for worship for Christians (Jews and Gentiles in Christ), and it was natural to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ on Sunday. The resurrection symbolizes Christ's defeat of sin and death. We can find records of the early church celebrating the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ on Sunday, the first day of the week. We can also find documents that both Jews and Gentiles kept the Sabbath and also worshipped on the Lord’s Day. Acts 20:7-12
Judaism celebrates Passover because they do not accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Some Jewish people that believe in Jesus Christ as their Messiah will still celebrate the Passover.
Jewish people also use a calendar based on the new moon, which can put the Passover and unleavened bread during the week. In other words, Judaism is not tied to celebrating the Passover on any given day, such as Sunday but does celebrate Passover on the 14th day of Nissan, which can be a different day of the week each year. Notice that Passover is a weeklong celebration, and Christianity instead focuses on the day of His resurrection.
Christians believe that the feast of unleavened bread, which removes sin in our lives because we exchange His righteousness for our sinfulness, was fulfilled in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who made atonement with His sinless blood for all mankind. Jesus is the Passover lamb. In Contrast, the Passover focuses on the Exodus of Egypt (a type and shadow of what the Lord Jesus Christ would fulfill), which now finds fulfillment in Christ's resurrection. Heb 7:26-8:5. Christians focus on Easter Sunday because they recognize Christ as the Messiah, and Christ’s resurrection was on Sunday, the first day of the week. Mark 16:9
Why don't Christians celebrate the Feast of Unleavened bread? The symbolism of yeast is sin. Therefore, in preparation for Passover, one is to remove sin in one's life by cleaning your house of all things touched or might have been touched by yeast (ovens, utensils, mixing bowls, etc.). If you have ever tried to go a week without yeast products, it is tough to accomplish. A person cannot work hard enough to have sin/yeast removed from their life. We are thankful for the Lord Jesus's sacrifice as the Passover lamb to wash our sins away with His blood. Therefore, this feast is fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We ask the final question, is Easter pagan? No. Should Christians celebrate Passover? We found that immersing ourselves in learning how Christ fulfilled most feasts is a beneficial experience. Seder meals (like the last supper) are informative for Christian believers to understand that Christianity is rooted in Judaism. The focus of Passover is the blood on the doorposts. The subject of Easter Sunday is the blood of Christ on the cross to forgive our sins and that He is risen from the dead, causing our sin debt to God to be "finished," as Christ said on the cross. Christ rose from the dead and was witnessed by over 500 people, which is our promise of eternal life. 1 Cor 15:6. No other person in history was raised from the dead. 1 Cor 15:13. Our God has risen!
We can focus on the Passover, which points to the lamb's blood in Egypt, or believers in Christ can celebrate the fulfillment of Passover on Easter Sunday and the resurrection of Christ! And if you like, add in Easter bunnies and cute eggs for kids that point them to new life in Christ.
Enjoy your holiday. People are open this season to know what Easter is about, so share the Good News! Christ has risen!
 Owen Jarus 01 February 2014, “Ishtar Gate: Grand Entrance to Babylon,” livescience.com, September 22, 2022, https://www.livescience.com/43036-ishtar-gate.html#:~:text=The%20Ishtar%20Gate%2C%20named%20after.
Liz Abrams and Troy Lacey, “Did 600,000 Men Leave Egypt with Moses?,” Answers in Genesis (Answers in Genesis, September 20, 2022), https://answersingenesis.org/bible-questions/did-600000-men-leave-egypt-moses/.
 Nissan Dubov, “Pesach,” Chabad.org (Chabad), accessed March 23, 2023, https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2313774/jewish/The-Jewish-Festivals.htm.
By Biblestudycompany.com Ric Joyner
We will state upfront that Christmas is not a biblical holiday. But it is not unbiblical to celebrate the birth of Christ. We should also not equalize Christmas with the advent of our Savior. The Old Testament prophesized over the birth of the Savior to come. The current secular traditions of Santa, with almost God-like qualities and manipulating kids to "further fantasize" a jolly old man who can give all children on earth toys and an "elf on the shelf" that watches how they behave, is unbiblical. Still, some feel it is acceptable to create a myth around Santa Clause while children are young. We disagree. Our view is that it is always best to be honest with children about Santa. Giving presents at this time of the year is not wrong because the Magi gave Christ's family gifts in worship to the young boy Messiah which helped the family with expenses to flee to Egypt. Consumerism and greed are wrong and an issue of sin, but only the Holy Spirit can lead you to that truth and He knows your heart.
Frustration mounts as we approach this time of year in the Christmas season. Screams of "Christmas is pagan" escalate into a crescendo with arguments against Christmas on social media and by some bible teachers. Could this be a veiled attack on the Gospel in the name of "we don't want to be idolators"?
Let's take a look. Will you please reread these scriptures prayerfully as we begin our biblical study?
Matthew Chapters 1-2 highlights
"30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel."
Luke Chapters 1 and 2. Pay attention to what the angels say a couple of times: "good news," translated as the same word… Gospel. The birth of Christ is good news for Jews because their long-awaited Messiah was finally here, and the prophecy was fulfilled. We write this paper 2,000 years later for gentiles, grateful that the apostles preached the Gospel to us: Good news: Christ came as a child to break the back of sin and death and allowed us gentiles an eternal "home" and become children of God! Gentiles are not part of the nation of Israel, but we are part of God's family! (Eph Chap 1-4)
We celebrate the birth of Christ because of the Gospel!
Read John 1 for a view from heaven of why Christ came.
9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the intention of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us. We saw His glory as the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'" 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
If it is, then are you a pagan for celebrating the day of Christ's birth? The historical proof that Christmas is pagan is thrown at you with overwhelming emotional authoritarianism. Is emotionalism based on biblical truth? How about historical facts? We know the origin of Christmas (birth of Christ) is biblical. The story of our Savior starts with His birth because the prophets mentioned He was coming. We suspect the anti-Christmas vehemence is agenda-driven. We ask this question because born-again believing Christians are not worshipping pagan deities by participating in the birth of Christ called Christmas today. I spoke to a Torah Keeping brother who said, "Yes, Christmas is pagan." I asked how that could be, and he shared, "when you put a present under the tree, you are 'bowing' down to the tree." I was stunned. The logic he displayed defied logic. Yeah, no. Worshipping a pagan deity requires one to engage the diety knowingly.
In our research, there were pagan celebrations that started around the time of 274 AD, but they appear to be in response to Christians in Rome celebrating the birth of Christ! We then ask what came first, the "chicken or the egg?"
"However, it has also been argued that, on the contrary, Emperor Aurelian, who in 274 instituted the holiday of the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, did so partly as an attempt to give a pagan significance to a date already important for Christians in Rome.
Is the nearness of a pagan holiday make Christmas pagan? When I sift through the concerns of 'Christmas is pagan,' people, did you know there was a pagan holiday at this time? We will deal with this later, but does that make celebrating the birth of Christ pagan today? Let's ask another question: Is Hanukkah pagan? The answer is no. Yet, Hanukkah is square in the middle of this pagan holiday called Saturnalia. The true church pushed hard against these wicked holidays, and to assume born-again believers were participating in pagan festivals doesn't make much sense since Christians had to live outside of society for several hundred years because of severe persecution.
Calling Christmas pagan because of the nearness of the same period of a pagan holiday would be the same as calling Easter (the resurrection of Christ) and Passover pagan. The proximity does not work because a pagan spring festival may happen around the same time.
We can confidently say that born-again believers would not have observed a pagan holiday and dishonored our Lord Jesus Christ, who rescued us from sin and death. Born-again believers do not participate in pagan rituals today, and Christmas is about the birth of Christ.
Conclusion. We will focus on the birth of Christ currently and not conflate the past to today.
"Certainly today, the mix of consumerism (AKA Santa Claus) can take people's eyes off Christ, but our job is to bring them back to the salvation message of the Gospel. Will you join us?"
Note: In our extensive research, we stumbled upon a Wikipedia article. We usually would bypass Wikipedia as higher education frowns on the use of Wikipedia; however, this article has stood the test of time (2001) and is updated continually, even in 2021. Once you dive into the article, you will see the extent and expanse of the research on Christmas. Those who are "anti-Christmas" will find information to support their premises.
"Got you, Biblestudycompany…see, Christmas is pagan". Well, no, and not so fast. This Wikipedia article is excellent on Christmas and is thorough for a balanced perspective.
Here are some highlights:
"Christmas" is a shortened form of "Christ's mass." The word was recorded as Crīstesmæsse in 1038 and Cristes-messe in 1131. Crīst (genitive Crīstes) is from Greek Khrīstos (Χριστός), a translation of Hebrew Māšîaḥ (מָשִׁיחַ), "Messiah," meaning "anointed"; and mæsse is from Latin missa, the celebration of the Eucharist.”
"December 25 was the winter solstice date in the Roman calendar. A late fourth-century sermon by Saint Augustine explains why this was a fitting day to celebrate Christ's nativity: "Hence it is that He was born on the day which is the shortest in our earthly reckoning and from which subsequent days begin to increase in length. He, therefore, who bent low and lifted us chose the shortest day, yet the one whence light begins to increase." 
We conclude by the historical facts that the Roman Catholic Church was not in existence at the beginning of Christian recognition of the birth of Christ.
"The Roman Emperor Constantine established himself as the head of the church around 313 A.D., which made this new "Christianity" the Roman Empire's official religion. The first actual Pope in Rome was probably Leo I (440-461 A.D.), although some claim that Gregory I was the first (Pope) (590-604 A.D.). This ungodly system eventually ushered in the darkest period known to man, called the "Dark Ages" (500-1500 A.D.). Through popes, bishops, and priests, Satan ruled Europe, and Biblical Christianity became illegal."
Conclusion: Catholicism was not the leading purveyor of Christmas traditions.
Celebrating birthdays is pagan. No. Many ancient cultures did not celebrate birthdays, but many did. And no, celebrating birthdays is not pagan. We are honoring a person. Where are the deities?
"And therefore, we should not celebrate the birth of Christ." To that, we would say, "tell that to the angels engaging the shepherds because heaven celebrated the birth of God's Son!" Luke 2:2-14
"And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
Note: the words Good News are translated from Greek
Original word: εὐαγγελίζω
Definition (short): preach
Description (complete): to announce good news
Yep, evangelize during Christmas. There are hurting hearts at this time of the year, and many blindly celebrate a holiday not connected to Christ's birth. Let us help people relate it to Christ, our Savior.
If not Christmas, what should we celebrate instead? Some would say we should celebrate Hanukkah to return to our Jewish roots. Hanukkah was not part of the Gospel, and the birth of Christ IS part of the Gospel.
We encourage everyone everywhere to ask God whether one should participate in the celebration of the birth of Christ. We say YES! We can confidently push back on anti-Christmas and anti-birth of Christ people with correct historical and biblical facts.
During this time of the year, people are open to the Gospel for nearly one month. Do we let this opportunity slide through our fingers? In Matthew 28, our commission is to go and make disciples. To make a disciple, we must present the Gospel first. Will we waste our time arguing over the birth of Christ, whether it is pagan or not? To this, we say that people saying Christmas or the celebration of the birth of Christ is pagan are avoiding the Gospel! Why? Who in the spiritual realm attacks the Gospel and wants it destroyed? Satan. Think about this tidbit. Imagine a worldwide focus on Christmas, even in Buddhist countries. Why not present the Gospel at this time of the year? As Paul said, his focus was on getting people reconciled to God. (2Cor 5:18-21)
God promised by the first prophecy in Genesis 3:15 that a Savior would come:
"15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."
The Accuser is bound and determined to use people, even with good intentions, to stop the message of the Gospel of Salvation. We use the word accusation intentionally because people who celebrate traditional Christmas are called pagans. A severe charge but, fortunately, untrue.
God is a God of prophecy. He wants us to know what is coming. He answered His word and has "healing in His wings" to "reconcile us to God." There are no other holy books that contain prophetic words fulfilled!
Every Christmas season is a literal miracle that this holiday (holy day) is focused worldwide on Jesus Christ, our Savior. Even the Wikipedia article acknowledges this undeniable fact.
Let us turn aside from the poor handling of scripture and agenda-driven history "facts" and focus on the birth of Christ and sharing the Good news of His coming to rescue us from our sin, thus giving us eternal life without works and fear; in the blood of Christ!
What can you and your family do to share the love of Christ with a hurting world this Christmas season? Here is one video that touches our hearts when we watch it.
Feel free to share the resources.
Melton, James. "The Plain Truth about the Roman Catholic Church." biblebelievers.com. Bible Baptist Publications, 1998. https://biblebelievers.com/jmelton/Catholic.html.
Wikipedia Contributors. "Christmas." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, October 31, 2001. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas.
———. "Christmas." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, October 31, 2001. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas
William Federer: There is a Santa Claus - History of Saint Nicholas & Christmas Holiday Traditions
by Amazon.com Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0965355748/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_QVM4MJF835RK35KMWAHR
Christmas has nothing to do with paganism: Red pen logic
Was December 25 the date of Christ's birth? The Greek Orthodox church thinks so.
Mike Winger on Christmas:
1. Is Christmas PAGAN? In defense of Christmas
3. Stop Twisting Jeremiah 10 Because It's Not About Christmas Trees
4. Alisa Childers on Christmas
5. For the extensive history of Christmas with the discussion of the dates for the birth of Christ, God Became Incarnate James Quiggle by Amazon.com
Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/149918669X/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_AR6NEZ6XB0TPZ5N1VB90
6. The star of Bethlehem is an excellent movie on the astronomical view of the star. https://youtu.be/55VRdLnkvDw