Christian Articles Archive

Isn't Easter a pagan holiday?

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

By no means! Easter is the primary Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ the Lord.

However, the English word "Easter" may have pagan connotations. The Anglo-Saxon priest Venerable Bede in the 8th century derived it from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre.

Of course, our days of the week, too, spring from the names of pagan gods:

Sunday

Sun god

Monday

Moon god

Tuesday

Tiu, Germanic god of war

Wednesday

Odin, Norse supreme god

Thursday

Thor, Norse god of thunder, weather, and crops

Friday

Frigga, wife of Odin and Norse goddess of married love and of the hearth

Saturday

Saturn, Roman god of agriculture

And the names of the months, similarly are deeply infected with the names of pagan gods:

January

Janus, Roman god of doors and gates

February

Februus, ancient Italian god, and festival of purification

March

Mars, Roman god of war

April

Aprilis, Roman republican calendar month, considered by the Romans as sacred to Venus

May

Maia, Roman goddess of spring

June

Juno, Roman goddess of women and marriage

July

Julius Caesar, defied Roman emperor

August

Augustus Caesar, defied Roman emperor

September

Seventh (month of early Roman calendar)

October

Eighth (month of early Roman calendar)

November

Ninth (month of early Roman calendar)

December

Tenth (month of early Roman calendar)

You see, the NAMES that we use — indeed, our entire vocabulary — is filled with pagan references of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, Germanic, and Roman gods and goddesses, since the vocabulary developed before Christianity came to England. But the CONTENT of Easter — at least as true Christians practice it — is a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The old pagan celebrations of Easter are for those who don't know Jesus. But a meditation on Jesus' cross, his death, and his glorious resurrection are to be the focus of Christians.

Don't get hung up on the name "Easter." But focus on the joy we celebrate when we recall Jesus' rising from the dead on that Sunday morning, that "Easter" morning, 20 centuries ago.

Copyright © 1985-2014, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

Sign up now!To be notified about future articles, stories, and Bible studies,why don't you subscribe to our free newsletter,The Joyful Heart, by placing your e-mail address in the box below. We respect your privacy and never sell, rent, or loan our lists. Please don't subscribe your friends; let them decide for themselves.
FirstLast
E-mail
Country(2-letter abbreviation, such as US)
Preferred FormatHTML (recommended) Plain text