Easter and Paganism


Christus resurrexit! Alleluia!

Χριστός ἀνέστη! Αλληλούια!

We repeatedly hear that Easter is a pagan festivity and thus the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Protestant ecclesiastical communities are therefore pagan.  This is not quite true though.  They might point to the name of Easter coming from Eostre, the Germanic goddess of fertility, however not is this only in some Germanic languages like English or German (Oster), but a Germanic spring festival at this time have been questioned by those who note it was initiated by German neopagans in the 19th century.

All the other languages I know take the name Passover for Easter: e.g. Pasqua (Italian), Pascua (Spanish), Dies Paschalis (Latin), Páscoa (Portuguese), Pâques (French). The dating of Easter in the Gregorian calendar is based on when the Passover occurs. As Venerable Bede stated, “The Sunday following the full Moon which falls on or after the equinox will give the lawful Easter” and since then it still is observed this way in the West. Likewise, Passover starts on the night of a full moon after vernal equinox. In ancient times early Christians celebrated Easter during Passover since Christ’s Passion and Resurrection reportedly occurred during the week of Passover.

Also, we further cannot say Easter is pagan since the festivity was first celebrated in Rome and Alexandria, not the German-speaking world where its alleged origins come from as “Easter was celebrated in Rome and Alexandria on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox” and because “the Sunday after 14 Nisan was the historical day of the Resurrection, at Rome this Sunday became the Christian feast of Easter.”

Some customs related to Easter might take their origins from Gentile cultures, but this is because the Church christens them to include the Gentiles in God’s Church.  We are not narrow-minded like the Judaizers who want us to believe that we must practice only Jewish customs in order to be saved.  As Saint Paul said, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of a festival day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbaths” (Colossians 2:16).

As Saint Leo the Great preached, “The whole of the Easter mystery, dearly-beloved, has been brought before us in the Gospel narrative, and the ears of the mind have been so reached through the ear of flesh that none of you can fail to have a picture of the events: . . . the barbarity of His crucifixion, and glory of His resurrection” (Sermon 72:1).

Source: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05224d.htm?hc_location=ufi



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