Do Pagan Traditions Hinder the Message of Easter?

Easter celebrations and pagan traditionsEaster is the time Christians celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a holiday which is also shared with secular traditions such as Easter egg hunts, candy and the infamous Easter bunny. Although some of these traditions derive from pagan observances which date all the back to the Roman Empire, do they hinder the gospel message?

While churches around the world celebrate the message of Easter some find its non sacred traditions troubling. The name Easter is not biblical; it is a derivative of Eastre, an Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring and Fertility. Many believe this Spring Goddess had a hare as her companion; the hare symbolized rebirth and fertility. Some reports say Christians later changed the symbol from a hare to the Easter bunny.

It has been stated that this goddess who was known by the names of Eastre, Oestre and Ostara is a goddess of the dawn and spring. Her name comes from the words for dawn and means the shining light which arises from the east. Our words for estrogen, the female hormone, are derived from her name.

Christians have mixed feelings about these pagan traditions which are closely associated with Easter. Today many believers have adopted the name Resurrection Sunday as opposed to the traditional name of Easter.

Executive committee member of the Southern Baptist Convention, Roger Sing Oldham, said even devout Christians have mixed feelings about secular traditions. They are divided on whether it is appropriate to have egg hunts for Easter. Some have said absolutely no way while others see them as opportunities to meet people in their Do Pagan Traditions Hinder the Message of Easter?communities and share the message of Jesus Christ. Oldham said in both cases the core truth of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection is the message Christian churches teach and preach during this season as well as year round.

Professor of philosophy and religion and dean of Humanities at Hillsdale College, Thomas Burke, said he believes it is acceptable for Christians to partake in secular traditions during Easter season. He reasoned that these secular rituals no longer have the same pagan meanings and association. They are perfectly legitimate practices for Christians and they should feel comfortable when using these efforts to spread Christ’s message to the world.

Burke added, the mission of the church is not only to save people but also to redeem cultures as much as possible. This should never be done by force but by means of teaching and living the gospel of Christ. Once people become Christians they should not leave the world to paganism. The effort of taking pagan symbolism and using them in Christian worship, according to Burke, is simply “Christianizing the culture.”

President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, said Easter is not about bunnies; it is about the Lamb of God being crucified and resurrected. He said he has no problem with activities that provide space for conversation and engage children but the message of the most transformative week in history cannot be compromised.

Assistant professor of Contemporary Christian Ministries, Dr. Quentin P. Kinnison, said it is common for Christian missionaries to use secular symbols such as eggs and bunnies when attempting to evangelize others who have no knowledge of Christianity. Kinnison, who teaches at Fresno Pacific University, said the use of eggs has been used to identify the importance of life along with the resurrection of Christ. Many are not familiar with biblical stories and these known symbols can be used to communicate and connect these cultures to the message of the Gospel.

The question remains, can Christians embrace colored eggs and fluffy bunnies which are associated with the Easter holiday without taking away from the message of Jesus Christ?

Matt Slick of Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry wrote such concerns on whether formerly pagan practices fit into Christian tradition for Easter were part of a “genetic fallacy”. Slick explained the genetic fallacy to mean “…if the origin of something is bad, then what comes from it cannot be trusted and should be avoided.” Slick said this is like saying you cannot trust the directions that were given to you by someone who was a thief. His being a thief does not mean his directions are bad. Likewise, just because a word originated in pagan history does not mean the word in modern times is now somehow ungodly or tainted.

Are Easter bunnies and egg hunts okay in the world of Christendom? For many, yes they are while for others it is an unacceptable practice. How do you feel about it? This is a question that each person has to answer for themselves – What do you believe?

By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)

Sources:

Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry
Daily Journal Online
Christian Post

3 Responses to "Do Pagan Traditions Hinder the Message of Easter?"

  1. Sibelius515   April 20, 2014 at 9:41 am

    I love the irony of the title… perhaps if Christian’s hadn’t placed their holiday on a pagan holiday about spring, rebirth, and fertility, then the “pagan tradition” wouldn’t “hinder the message of Easter” as more people become enlightened and understand the truth about the day. I needed a good laugh today.

    Reply
  2. Lynn Montgomery (your FB isn't working)   April 20, 2014 at 9:13 am

    As a Pagan, and knowing many pagans out there, we still celebrate our aster as originally attended. The Christians are the ones who attempted to steal our holiday from us. Just like they stole the God Pan from the Greek and decided that he would be their devil. Then they stole the Pagan worship day, and took Sunday for themselves. We said fine, we can do Saturday. Not a big deal to us. Christmas and Halloween is also Pagan. Christianity isn’t that old. It was a made up religion as most is. If it hadn’t been, then there wouldn’t have been anyone to steal stuff from. Though it would be nice to see them come up with their own holiday and meaning to it, Pagans gladly share what we already had with them as thats what good people do, we share. For any christian to think that they were successful in completely stealing our Easter is them living their own little dream. Though their version of it is the most known reason for the holiday, it does not take it from thoughs of us who know what it really is and enjoy it with our family. Christianity made their own version of it, and don’t even like what they made of it. And that’s a fight for them to deal with among themselves. But don’t kid yourself to think that there are no more Pagans in the world that understand the true meaning of our holidays. There are many of us. We are not how they portray us on tv. We are not what the church will have you believe either. We are your teachers, doctors, school room parents, cashiers, bus drivers, stay at home moms, community preparers, cops, fire fighters, mailmen/women….. We are many. We love children and watching them grow, we love animals and training them. We love gardens, and all the good things in the world. As someone who has worked with the public for many years in many situations, I can tell you, that in most cases its the christians that have to be watched. They are the ones more likely to explode over something small. They are more likely to blame people for things they didn’t do, and they are more likely to be caught stealing or doing something dishonest. I have had many christians come to me and tell me that after getting to know me and watching me, they can tell I am a good chritian, and that’s when I get to educate them by saying, no, I am not a christian. You only think I am cause your church teaches you that thoughs of us who are not, are liars, thieves, cheats, murderers and have you…. But its not true. We are good people who love the good things in life. We do not push ourselves or our beliefs on you… That’s why you don’t know much about who we are. And unless your willing to educate yourself about us, then you will never know or understand us. We are okay with that as we don’t need anyones acceptance, but we don’t care for the lies told about us. We do all agree that if it were not for the laws, their would still be witch burnings and witch trials. We believe it because of how we are still treated today. But as long as the law will stand by us, and protect us, we are more and more coming out and people better get used to it. Christians are involved in a lot of hate crimes. Hurting thoughs who do not yield to them. Some teen who’s gay, the witch trials, some girl who might not LOOK the same as everyone else and is bullied to death…. Many hate crimes come from this religion. I choose to not be apart of that but do not condim thoughs in it. However…. Be careful when your deciding your better then others cause sometimes, as long as your not willing to educate yourself about what your into and the real history… a lot of skeletons can fall out of the closet. You don’t have to claim them… but they are yours non the less and your not fooling anyone. So love and peace, Lynn

    Reply
    • Barbara   April 21, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      Lynn, I really appreciated your comment. Truly. But, I respectfully request that you reconsider generalizing Christians in the way that you have seen some Christians generalize Pagans. Not all Christians are the same either, though we are *supposed to* look like Christ. Sadly, that may not always be the case, as you pointed out in your comment. I believe that is changing for the good. Love and Peace to you, for real.

      Reply

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