Every holiday season committed Christians are found questioning the origins of holidays and traditions they have, up until then, taken for granted. The concern? They want to please the Lord and avoid all kinds of idolatry.
Now that Easter is coming up, those questions are starting again.
So, how should we approach Easter?
Origins vs. Today.
A quick Google search shows that it is pretty well accepted that Easter originates from a pagan holiday celebrating a goddess. As always, though, there is more to the story. Confident assertions about history are not always as certain as many people make out. For a more balanced look, check out the article on Easter at Wikipedia.
From my point of view, however, it doesn’t matter how much the English Easter celebration and tradition actually relies on a pagan festival because for 99.99999% of people who celebrate Easter in our society, the idea of worshipping a pagan goddess doesn’t even enter their minds! Easter in the West - even for those who think it really did originate from a pagan festival – is saturated in Christian symbolism, and that is all the eggs, the bunnies and the celebrations represent to people – if they think it represents anything at all!
Days of the Week.
Consider the days of the week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday all originate from the names of pagan gods, and it could be argued that we show those gods honour by invoking their names every time we use one of the seven words above. But it does not occur to most Christians to question that practice, because the meaning of these terms in our minds and hearts are now completely unrelated to the pagan gods they originally came from.
Easter is just the same, except in our society if it’s not neutral, it’s Christian. What I’d like to suggest is if Christians are concerned about Easter’s non-Christian religious elements, commercialism is a far more relevant form of religious devotion to expose and deal with than any possible pagan roots.
Maybe so, but I still feel stink!
For many people, the above information just won’t be enough to put their minds at ease. If you are concerned about the pagan roots of Easter or some of it’s traditions and your conscience bothers you about taking part in any or all of the celebrations, by all means, leave well alone. As it says in Romans 14:
5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.
And we can add: the one who celebrates Easter, celebrates in honour of the Lord, while the one who chooses not to, chooses in order to honour of the Lord.
And that’s how I approach Easter.