Like Christmas, Easter has traditions that are not as pure and unique as people would like others to believe. To most, the origins are not important. Whether or not one is religiously motivated, the following quotations should bring some fascinating reading and food-for-thought, to say the very least.
Origins of Easter
“The Greek ‘pascha’, formed from the Hebrew, is the name of the Jewish festival, applied invariably in the primitive church to designate the festival of the Lord’s resurrection, which took place at the time of the passover. Our word, Easter, is of Saxon origin, and of precisely the same import with its German cognate ‘Ostern’. The latter is derived from the old Teutonic form of ‘auferstehn’, ‘auferstehung’, ie. ‘resurrection. The name, Easter, as expressive of meaning, is undoubtedly preferable to pascha or passover, but the latter was the primitive name”. (Eusebius, p. 207).
“The well-known Barne’s Notes comments on this mistranslation in this single occurrence of the word ‘Easter’ in the King James version, as follows, ‘There was never a more absurd or unhappy translation than this”. (Koster, p. 23,24).
“Easter had a pre-Christian origin, namely a festival in honor of Eostre, the Teutonic dawn-goddess, and as Usha or Ushas, the Hindu dawn-goddess. This Eostre was also known to be the spring goddess and the goddess of fertility. Thus, another form of Sun-worship, another variant in the form of a dawn-deity, Eostre, also called Eastre, Eostra, Ostara, was adopted by or merged with Christianity. This same dawn-goddess was also well known in the Greek classics…as Eos (the Roman Aurora) and the Assyrian Ishtar, goddess of the morning. In classical mythology, Eos, was an amorous deity and the idea of fertility with its fertility-symbols of eggs and rabbits was to be expected”. (Koster, pp. 24, 25).
“Most likely this Eostre, dawn deity/fertility deity, is the same Astarte, which is recorded in the Hebrew of the Old Testament as Ashtaroth and Ashtoreth (the latter being changed because of deliberate Hebrew misvocalization). The name of Astarte was Ishtar in Nineve. She was also known as the ‘queen of heaven'”. (Koster, p. 25 with his reference from Gray’s Interpreters’ Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 1, p. 255).
“Other spring festivals were celebrated with the rites of Adonis or of Tammuz (well known as the youthful Sun-deity) which were held in summer in some places, but held in spring in others, such as Sicily and Syria. Our dead and risen Messiah being assimilated to the pagan celebration of the dead and risen Adonis (Tammuz)…Ezek. 8: 9 and 14”. (Koster, p. 25).
“How a once-tumultuous Saxon festival to Eastre was transformed into a solemn Christian service is another example of the supreme authority of the Church early in its history”. (Panati’s, p. 55).
“As the church moved away from the fervor of apostolic times, people’s piety began to wane, and bishops cast about for some celebration that would deepen the devotional approach to Easter, climax of the spiritual year…Some observed a total fast for exactly forty days (minus the Lord’s Day, Sunday), a feast called Quadragesima, which would evolve into Lent”. (Panati, p. 206).
“The forty days’ abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess. Such a Lent of forty days, ‘in the spring of the year’, is still observed by the Yezidis or Pagan Devil-worshippers of Koordistan who have inherited it from their early masters, the Babylonians. Such a Lent of forty days was held in spring by the Pagan Mexicans, for thus we read in Humboldt (Mexican Researches) where he gives account of Mexican observances: ” Three days after the vernal equinox…began a solemn fast of forty days in honour of the sun”. Such a Lent of forty days was observed in Egypt…expressly in commemoration of Adonis or Osiris, the great mediatorial god. At the same time, the rape of Proserpine seems to have been commemorated, and in a similar manner… “forty nights” the “wailing for Proserpine” continued…Among the Pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz which was celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing…being observed in Palestine and Assyria in June, therefore called the “month of Tammuz””. (Hislop, pp. 104, 105). “But at last, when the worship of Astarte was rising into the ascendant, steps were taken to get the whole Chaldean Lent of six weeks, or forty days, made imperative on all within the Roman Empire of the West. The way was prepared for this by a Council held at Aurelia in the time of Hormisdas, Bishop of Rome, about the year 519, which decreed that Lent should be solemnly kept before Easter.” (Hislop, pp. 106, 107).
“On the Sunday before his Resurrection, Jesus rode victoriously into Jerusalem, cheered by crowds, fanned by palm branches…Matthew 21:8-9…” (Panati, p. 207).
“As the custom of blessing palm branches spread, countries lacking the tree were forced to make substitutions. Hence, Palm Sunday became known in other lands as: Olive Sunday, Willow Bough Sunday, Blossom Sunday, and simply the generic Branch Sunday…” (Panati, p. 208).
“Palm Tree. In ancient Egypt it was sacred to the sun god, Re, and represented the fertility of the crops…In Judaism, it is an emblem of Judea; in Christianity of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem”. (Bruce-Mitford, p. 44). “Palm. Solar…The Tree of Life…As phallic it signifies virility and fertility, but if depicted with dates it is feminine…Arabian: The Tree of Life…Christian:…immortality and as such, is sometimes depicted with the phoenix; divine blessing…associated with Jesus Christ… Greek: Emblem of Apollo…Hebrew: The righteous man; emblem of Judea after the Exodus; Sumero-Semetic: A Tree of Life, emblem of Phoenician Baal-Tamar (the Lord of the Palm) and of Astarte and the Assyro-Babylonian Ishtar.” (Cooper, under Palm)
“Shrove Tuesday, or as we know it today, “Pancake Tuesday” seems in the olden time to have been a season of merriment, horseplay and cruelty, as if the participants were determined to have their fling ere Lent set in with its sombre feelings and proscription of joy…Taylor in his Jack-a-Lent (1630), gives the following curious account of the custom: “”Shrove Tuesday, at whose entrance in the morning all the whole kingdom is inquiet, but by that time the clocke strikes eleven, which (by the help of a knavish sexton) is commonly before nine, then there is a bell rung, cal’d the Pancake-bells, the sound of whereof makes thousands of people distracted, and forgetful either of manners or humanitie,; then there is a thing called the wheaten floure which the cookes do mingle with water, eggs, spice, and other tragical magical inchantments…it is transformed into the forme of a Flip-Jack, cal’d a Pancake, which ominous incantation the ignorant people doe devoure very greedily”…Brand informs us that the luxury and intemperance which prevailed were vestiges of the Roman Carnival. The modern pancake, translated from the history of the past, seems to suggest the old saying, “Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die””. (Knowlson, pp. 22, 23).
“The first day of Lent, a Wednesday, was always special and it came to be called Ash Wednesday from a custom involving ashes, long a symbol for repentance. Early Christians approached the church altar to have the ashes of blessed palm leaves scored on their forehead in the shape of a cross…The blessed palm leaves that are burned to make the ashes are, in fact, “leftovers” from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. This Lenten custom originated in the 6th Century, during the papacy of Gregory the Great. The astrological origin of the word “Wednesday” is revealed in its Latin name, Mercurii dies, literally, “Mercury’s day”. It entered English through the Anglo Saxon equivalent, Wodnes daeg. Mercury, in Roman mythology, was the messenger of the gods, usually depicted with winged feet; he is not unlike a Christian angel. Woden was the Saxon god of war and victory”. (Panati, pp. 206, 207).
Easter Sunrise Services
“In the earliest of Christianity, congregants prayed while facing east, in the direction of the rising sun. The custom is pagan and ancient…For Christians, Jesus Christ was the “sun of righteousness”…In Roman Catholicism…the priest…might or might not face the rising sun…Jews face east, toward Jerusalem, the Holy City, as a token of respect. The Ark of synagogues in the Western world is deliberately placed on the eastern wall so the congregation faces east as it prays”. (Panati, pp. 15, 16). “The whole subject of Easter, its Sunday-emphasizing date, and its pagan emblems and rites, such as Easter sunrise services, is crowned by the general admission that the word “Easter” is derived from the name of a goddess, the dawn-goddess, the spring deity, the goddess of fertility”. (Koster, p. 27). “East. The rising sun; dawn; spring…It is the direction towards which worship is oriented, especially for all solar gods…” (Cooper, under East).
“It just so happened that Eastre, a fertility goddess (the ancient word ‘eastre’ means ‘spring’) had as her earthly symbol the prolific hare, or rabbit. Hence, the origin of the Easter bunny”. (Panati, p. 205).
“A pre-Christian symbol of rebirth and renewal of life at the beginning of the vernal equinox. A hare or rabbit, is the emblem of Ostara, or Eastre, Teutonic goddess of Spring and dawn…” (Cooper, under Easter Egg, Rabbit)
“From the earliest times, and in most cultures, the egg signified birth and resurrection”. (Panati’s, p. 56).
“The egg as origin of the universe is found in myths throughout the world…and in Christianity can represent the virgin birth.” (Bruce-Mitford, p. 49).
“The egg as the origin of the world is found in Egypt, Phoenicia, India, China, Japan, Greece, Central America, Fiji, and Finland. The golden egg is the sun…In Christianity, it can signify the virgin birth.” (Cooper, under Egg).
“Gébélin, author of the Religious History of the Calendar… “the Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Greeks, Gauls, and others – regarded the egg as an emblem of the Universe – a work of the Supreme Divinity. Easter was the time of the solar New Year – the day of the renewal of all things – the incubation of Nature.’ The coloring and ornamentation of Easter eggs seems to have been part of the original custom, and was taken over by the Church, who used red to denote the blood of Christ”. (Knowlson, pp. 36, 37).
“Now the Romish Church adopted this mystic egg of Astarte, and consecrated it as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection”. (Hislop, p. 110).
“The origin of the Pasch eggs is just as clear…From Egypt these sacred eggs can be directly traced to the banks of the Euphrates…”An egg of wondrous size is said to have fallen from heaven into the river Euphrates. The fishes rolled it to the bank, where the doves, having settled upon it and hatched it, out came Venus, who afterwards was called the Syrian Goddess” that is, Astarte. Hence, the egg became one of the symbols of Astarte or Easter”. (Hislop, p. 109).
Hot Cross Buns
“At the feast to Eastre, an ox was sacrificed and the image of his horns carved into ritual bread – which evolved into the twice-scored Easter biscuits we call hot cross buns. In fact, the word ‘bun’ derives from the Saxon for ‘sacred ox’, ‘boun’.” (Panati, p. 205).
“Hutchinson, in his History of Northumberland, following Mr. Bryant’s Antient Mythology, derives the Good Friday Bun from the sacred cakes which were offered at the Arkite Temples, styled Boun, and presented every seventh day…Hesychius speaks of the Boun, and describes it a kind of cake with horns.
Diogenes Laertius, speaking of the same offering being made by Empedocles describes the chief ingredients of which it was composed “He offered one of the sacred Liba, called a Bouse, which was made of fine flour and honey”…The prophet Jeremiah takes notice of this kind of offering when he is speaking of the Jewish women at Pathros, in Egypt, and of their base idolatry in all which their husbands had encouraged them…Jeremiah xliv.18,19; 7:18…” (Knowlson, pp. 28, 29).
“The ‘buns’…were used in the worship of the queen of heaven, the goddess Easter, as early as the days of Cecrops, the founder of Athens – that is, 1500 years before the Christian era. “One species of sacred bread” says Bryant, ‘which used to be offered to the gods, was of great antiquity, and called Boun’…The hot cross buns are not now offered, but eaten, on the festival of Astarte; but this leaves no doubt as to whence they have been derived”. (Hislop, p. 108).
“Early church fathers, to compete with the pagan custom of baking ox-marked cakes…accomplished three objectives: Christianized a pagan cake; gave the people a treat they were accustomed to; and subtly scored the buns with an image that, though decidedly Catholic, at a distance would not dangerously label the bearer ‘Christian’.” (Panati’s, pp. 57, 58).
“The many seeds embedded in the pulp of the fruit came to symbolize fertility; the entire fruit goddesses like the Phoenician Astarte (or Ashtoreth), Demeter, and Persephone (Latin Ceres and Proserpina), Aphrodite (Venus), and Athena.” (Biedermann, p. 271).
“Besides the mystic egg, there was also another emblem of Easter, the goddess queen of Babylon, and that was the Rimmon, or ‘pomegranate’. With the Rimmon or ‘pomegranate’ in her hand, she is frequently represented in ancient medals, and the house of Rimmon, in which the King of Damascus, the Master of Namaan, the Syrian, worshipped, was in all liklihood a temple of Astarte”. (Hislop, p. 110).
“But upon more searching inquiry, it turns out that the Rimmon or ‘pomegranate’ had reference to an entirely different thing. Astarte, or Cybele, was called also Idaia Mater, and the sacred mount in Phrygia…was named Mt. Ida – that is, in Chaldee…the Mount of Knowledge. ‘Idaia Mater’ then signifies ‘the Mother of Knowledge’ – in other words, our Mother Eve, who first coveted the ‘knowledge of good and evil’…Astarte, as can be abundantly shown, was worshipped not only as an incarnation of the Spirit of God, but also of the Mother of mankind…represented with the fruit of the pomegranate in her extended hand…the fruit of the ‘Tree of “Knowledge'”. (Hislop, pp. 110, 111).
“The pomegranates with the bells on the priestly vestment represent fecundating thunder and lightning.” (Cooper, under Pomegranate).
At this point some observations:
- Why would the “unique” God of Israel instruct HIS priests to wear the pagan symbol of the ‘pomegranate’ on their robes when they came before Him? Exodus 28: 33, 34; Exodus 39: 24-26)
- The “Wise” King Solomon called by this same “God of Israel”, also made extensive use of the ‘sacred pomegranate’. I Kings 7; 2 Kings 25: 16, 17; 2 Chronicles 3: 16; 2 Chronicles 4: 13; Jeremiah 52: 20-23.
Fundamental to the Easter season, is the firm belief of Christ’s crucifixion on a cross. This symbol alone is the most revered idol of worship. Therefore, we must investigate its origin.
“Another…tradition of the Church which our fathers have inherited, was the adoption of the words ‘cross’ and ‘crucify’. These words are nowhere to be found in the Greek of the New Testament.” (Koster, p. 29).
“…historical evidence points to Constantine as the one who had the major share in uniting Sun-worship and the Messianic Belief. Constantine’s famous vision of ‘the cross superimposed on the sun”, in the year 312, is usually cited. Writers, ignorant of the fact that the cross was not to be found in the New Testament Scriptures, put much emphasis on this vision as the onset of the so-called ‘ conversion’ of Constantine”. (Koster, pp. 30, 31).
“In the Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, vol. 14, p. 273, we read, ‘In the Egyptian churches, the cross was a pagan symbol of life borrowed by the Christians and interpreted in the pagan manner’.” (Koster, p. 30).
“The Romans, who crucified Jesus, did not themselves dream up crucifixion on a cross as a cruel form of punishment. They adopted both the symbol and the torture from the Phoenicians…” (Panati, p. 119)
“The most universal of the simple symbolic figures, its importance is in no way limited to the Christian world.” (Biedermann, p. 81).
“There is evidence of the cross as a symbol from the remotest ages in Egypt, China, and in Crete where a cross dating from the fifteenth century BC has been discovered…” (Chevalier & Gheerbrant, p. 248)
“The first form of that which is called the ‘Christian Cross’ found on Christian monuments there (referring to Egypt), is the unequivocal Pagan Tau, or Egyptian ‘Sign of life'”. Hislop, p. 201)
“The cross on which Jesus was crucified was probably a tau cross (also call “St. Anthony’s cross”), formed like the letter T…” (Biederman, p. 351).
“The T cross; life; the key to supreme power; phallic. It is also the cross of Mithraism and Thor’s Hammer and as a hammer, an attribute of thunder and smith gods.” (Cooper, under Tau).
“Further proof of its pagan origin is the recorded evidence of the vestal virgins of pagan Rome having the cross hanging on a necklace, and the Egyptians doing it too, as early as the 15th century BCE. The Buddhists and numerous other sects of India, also used the sign of the cross as a mark on their followers’ heads”. (Koster, pp. 32,33 citing numerous references).
“There is hardly a Pagan tribe where the cross has not been found. The Cross was worshipped by the Pagan Celts long before the incarnation and death of Christ…The cross thus widely worshipped, or regarded as a sacred emblem, was the unequivocal symbol of Bacchus, the Babylonian Messiah…” (Hislop, p. 199).
“Tammuz, alias Bacchus, has a surname: ‘Ies’ or HIS. He was also known as the Fish (Ichthus), and had the Tau, the cross, as his sign. These three (Ies, the Fish, and the cross), have survived, and are still with us!” (Koster, p.66).
“In Jewish and Christian traditions, the sign of the cross belongs to primitive initiation ceremonies. The Christian cross is prefigured in the Old Testament by the door posts and lintels of the children of Israel being marked with the blood of the Passover lamb in the sign of the cross. The lamb itself was roasted on two spits crosswise to each other.” (Chevalier & Gheerbrant, p. 253).
“According to tradition, the symbol painted in blood on an Israelite’s doorstep to spare the slaughter of the firstborn was in the form of the tau cross. In an instance of prophesy, this cross is also said to be the type Christ was nailed to…John 3:14. This passage has led some to conclude that Christ must have been nailed to a tau cross and not a Latin cross.” (Panati, p. 123).
“The same sign of the cross that Rome now worships was used in the Babylonian Mysteries, was applied by Paganism to the same magic purposes was honoured with the same honours. That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all, but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians – the true original form of the letter T – the initial of the name of Tammuz – which, in Hebrew, radically the same as ancient Chaldee, as found on coins…That mystic Tau was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those initiated in the Mysteries, and was used in every variety of ways as a most sacred symbol.” (Hislop, pp. 197, 198).
To say that such superstitious feeling for the sign of the cross, such worship as Rome pays to a wooden or a metal cross, ever grew out of the saying of Paul, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”, that is, in the doctrine of Christ crucified – is a mere absurdity, a shallow subterfuge and pretence. The magic virtues attributed to the so-called sign of the cross, the worship bestowed on it, never came from such a source”. (Hislop, p. 197).
“…in Egypt the earliest form of that which has since been called the cross, was no other than the ‘ Crux Ansata’ or ‘sign of life’ born by Osiris and all the Egyptian gods; that the ansa or ‘handle’ was afterwards dispensed with and that it became the simple Tau, or ordinary cross, as it appears in this day, and that the design of its first employment on the sepulchres, therefore, could have no reference to the crucifixion of the Nazarene, but was simply the result of the attachment to old and long-cherished Pagan symbols, which is always strong in those who, with the adoption of the Christian name and profession, are still, to a large extent, Pagan in heart and feeling. This, and this only, is the origin of the worship of the “cross””. (Hislop, p. 201).
Crucifixion and Resurrection
Easter is celebrated as the time when the “Saviour of the World, Jesus Christ, was crucified”. The following is a list of other “crucified saviours” taken from the on-line book The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors by Kersey Graves (1875), chapter 16 – unless otherwise stated. The dates given are the estimated dates of their crucifixions.
- Chrishna of India (1200 BC)
“depicted in artwork as being “suspended on the cross…holes pierced in his feet…” “… the Hindoo crucified God and Son of God ‘our Lord and Savior’ Chrishna”…”
- Sakia of India (600 BC)
“He in mercy left Paradise, and came down to earth because he was filled with compassion for the sins and miseries of mankind. He sought to lead then into bitter paths, and took their sufferings upon himself that he might expiate their crimes and mitigate the punishment they must otherwise inevitably undergo” – called ‘The Savior of the World’ ‘The Benevolent One’ ‘The Source of Life, the Light of the World’ The Dispenser of Grace.’
- Tammuz of Syria (1160 BC)
“Trust, ye saints, in your Lord restored Trust ye in your risen Lord; For the pains which Thammuz endured Our salvation have procured.” (Ctesias, 400 BC author of Persika as quoted by Graves)
- Wittoba of the Telingonesic (552 BC)
“Mr. Higgins tells us, “He is represented in his history with nail-holes in his hands and the soles of his feet.”
- Iol of Nepal (622 BC)
“…he was crucified on a tree in Nepaul”
- Hesus of the Celtic Druids (834 BC)
“…crucified with a lamb on one side and an elephant on the other…the elephant…represents the magnitude of the sins of the world, while the lamb…represents the innocency of the victim (the God offered as a propitiatory sacrifice)…”
- Quexalcote of Mexico (587 BC)
“The Mexican Antiquites (vol. Vi, p. 166) says “Quexalcote is represented in the paintings of ‘Codex Borgianus’ as nailed to the cross”. Sometimes two thieves are represented as having been crucified with him.”
- Quirinus of Rome (506 BC)
“He was ‘put to death by wicked hands’ ie. crucified…And finally he is resurrected and ascends back to heaven.”
- (Aeschylus) Prometheus of Caucasus (547 BC)
“Lo! Streaming from the fatal tree His all atoning blood, Is this the Infinite? – Yes, tis he, Prometheus, and a God! Well might the sun in darkness hide, And veil his glories in, When God, the great Prometheus, died, For man the creature’s sin.”
- Thulis of Egypt (1700 BC)
“…died the death of a cross…was buried, but rose again, ascended into heaven, and there became ‘the judge of the dead’ or of souls in a future state…”
- Indra of Tibet (725 BC)
“…in Georgius’, Thibetinum Alphabetum, p. 230…this Tibetan Savior…nailed to the cross. There are five wounds, representing the nail-holes and the piercing of the side.”
- Alcestos of Euripides (600 BC)
“The ‘English Classical Journal’ (vol. xxxvii) furnishes us with the story of another crucified God…being the first, if not the only example of a feminine God atoning for the sins of the world upon a cross.”
- Atys of Phyrgia (1170 BC)
“He was suspended on a tree, crucified, buried and rose again (from the Anacalypsis).”
- Crite of Chaldea (1200 BC)
“He was also known as ‘the Redeemer’ and was styled ‘The Ever Blessed Son of God’, ‘The Savior of the Race’…And when he was offered up, both heaven and earth were shaken to their foundations.”
- Bali of Orissa (725 BC)
“…in Asia, they have the story of a crucified God known by…’Lord Second’ having reference to him as the second person or second member of the trinity, as most of the crucified Gods occupied that position…”
- Mithra of Persia (600 BC)
“This Persian God, according to Mr. Higgins, was ‘slain upon the cross to make atonement for mankind, and to take away the sins of the world’. He was reputedly born on the twenty-fifth day of December and was crucified on a tree.”
“…we might note other cases of crucifixions. Devatat of Siam, Ixion of Rome, Apollonius of Tyana in Cappadocia, are all reported in history as having died the death of the cross…For, like Paul, they were “determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified” (I Cor. 2:2) ie., to know no other God had been crucified but Jesus Christ. They thus exalted the tradition of the crucifixion into the most important dogma of the Christian faith. Hence, their efforts to conceal from the public a knowledge of the fact that it is of pagan origin.” (Graves, chpt. 16)
“According to the emblematical figures comprised in their astral worship, people were saved by the sun’s crucifixion or crossification, realized by crossing over the equinoctial line into the season of spring, and thereby gave out a saving heat and light to the world and stimulated the generative organs of animal and vegetable life. It was from this conception that the ancients were in the habit of carving or painting the organs of generation upon the walls of their holy temples. The blood of the grape, which was ripened by the heat of the sun, as he crossed over by resurrection into spring (ie, was crucified), was symbolically ‘the blood of the cross’ or ‘the blood of the Lamb’.” (Graves, Chpt. 16).
“Osiris was to his worshippers “the god-man, the first of those who rose from the dead” and that his death and resurrection were therefore supposed to be in some way beneficial to mankind.” (Legge, p. 1-126 FN)
“…from very early times there had been worshipped with mysterious rites a divine couple who were known only as “The God” and “The Goddess”. This pair, as we may guess from an illusion in Hesiod, otherwise called Zeus Chthonios or the infernal Zeus, god of the underworld, and Demeter, the ancient earth-goddess, who was worshipped with her lover under the various names of Ma, Cybele, Astarte, Rhea, Isis throughout Asia Minor, Syria, Phoenicia, and Egypt. As the lover of the earth-goddess, in all these cases suffered death and resurrection, the Orphites had to work into the history of their Dionysos Zagreus. But they carried the idea further than any of their predecessors by connecting this death and re-birth with the origin of man and his survival after death.” (Legge, p. 1-126)
“It is interesting that the holiest day of the liturgical Christian year, Easter Sunday, bears the name of the pagan sex goddess Eastre and the pagan sun god Solis”. (Panati, p. 205).
“In the Christian faith, Easter is the most sacred of holy days because it commemorates the cornerstone miracle of the faith – had Christ not risen, Christianity could never have flourished, since the man Jesus would not have proved to be the Son-of-God Jesus. But the holy day’s name derives from an ancient pagan festival and is the name of the Saxon goddess of spring and offspring, Eastre. How did a raucous pagan ritual evolve into a solemn Christian service? Second century missionaries…tried not to interfere too strongly with entrenched and popular customs. Rather…they attempted to transform pagan practises into ceremonies that harmonized with Christian doctrine”. (Panati, pp. 204, 205).
“To conciliate the pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get Christian and pagan festival amalgamated, and, by a complicated but skilful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity – now far sunk in idolatry – in this and in so many other things, to shake hands”. (Koster, pp. 25, 26 taken from Hislop, p. 105 and Frazer’s The Golden Bough, pp. 344-347).
“The misgivings of the lead character in novelist John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, seems to be shared by more than a few people: “I find that Holy Week is draining; no matter how many times I have lived through his crucifixion, my anxiety about his resurrection is undiminished – I am terrified that, this year, it won’t happen; that, that year, it didn’t””. (Bibby, p. 127).
Karen Toole Mitchell, a United Church Observer columnist has stated, “Let’s face it, the resurrection is hard enough to defend without adding the ascension.” (Bibby, p. 136).
- Bibby, Reginald W. Unknown Gods. Toronto: Stoddart Publ. Co. Ltd., 1993.
- Biedermann, Hans. Dictionary of Symbolism. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1992.
- Bruce-Mitford, Miranda. The Illustrated Book of Signs and Symbols. Montreal: Readers Digest, 1996.
- Chevalier, Jean and Gheerbrant, Alain. A Dictionary of Symbols. Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1994.
- Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus. Trans. by Christian Frederick Cruse; includes, “An Historical View of the Council of Nice,” by Issac Boyle. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1994.
- Eerdmans Handbook to the World Religions. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1982.
- Graves, Kersey. The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors. (1875).
- Hislop, Alexander. The Two Babylons. Neptune, NJ: Loizeau Brothers, 1916.
- Knowlson, T. Sharper. The Origins of Popular Superstitions and Customs. Hollywood, CA: Newcastle Publ. Co., 1972. (taken from Brand’s Popular Antiquities, 1841).
- Koster, C.J. Come Out of Her My People/”. Johannesburg, RSA: Institute for Scripture Research, 1998.
- Legge, Francis. Forerunners and Rivals of Christianity. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1964.
- Panati, Charles. Panati’s Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things. New York: Harper and Row, 1987.
- Panati, Charles. Sacred Origins of Profound Things. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1996.