The Truth About Easter
by Timothy A. & Kimberly B. Southall
Revised January 9, 2001

Please note that all scripture references are linked to The Bible Gateway. Therefore, if you click on a scripture reference, it may take a few moments for it to load. Once you are finished reading the scripture(s), click "back" on your browser to return to this article.
Exodus 20:1-5

Many Christians are unaware of the origins of Easter, which is actually a pagan festival held in honor of idols. In fact, Easter was celebrated hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus Christ. It wasn't until at least 300 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the establishment of his church that the celebration of his resurrection began to be intermingled with the pagan practices of Easter. You should know the truth.

Origins of the Word "Easter" and the Goddess it Represents. "Easter" is derived from "Eostre," the pagan Anglo-Saxon goddess, and/or "Eostare," the Norse pagan festival of spring. When God gave the law to the Israelites in the Old Testament, he clearly instructed them not to even utter the name of other gods (Exodus 23:13). Aphrodite, Asherah, Ashtoreth, Astarte, Diana, Eostre, Ianna, Ishtar, Isis, Ostara, Semiramis, Venus . . . call her what you will, but she is one and the same--a false goddess, an idol, worshiped by pagans. And God declares that she is detestable. Asherah is mentioned in the Old Testament quite frequently (Exodus 34:13; Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:2-4; Deuteronomy 16:21; Judges 6:25-30; 1 Kings 14:15-23; 1 Kings 15:13; 1 Kings 16:33; 1 Kings 18:19; 2 Kings 13:6; 2 Kings 17:7-16; 2 Kings 18:4; 2 Kings 21:3-7; 2 Kings 23:4-15; 2 Chronicles 14:3; 2 Chronicles 15:16; 2 Chronicles 17:6; 2 Chronicles 19:3; 2 Chronicles 24:18; 2 Chronicles 31:1; 2 Chronicles 34:3-7; Isaiah 17:8; Isaiah 27:9; Jeremiah 17:2; Micah 5:14). Ashtoreth (the Babylonian goddess of the woods and nature) is also mentioned by name in the Bible (Judges 2:11-13; 1 Samuel 7:3; 1 Kings 11:5, 33). In every instance, she is an idol which greatly angers God. Inanna, the Sumerian patron of the temple prostitutes (also considered the merciful mother who intercedes with the gods on behalf of her worshipers), is represented with a star inscribed in a circle. There are several scriptures which clearly show that worship of any of the celestial elements (sun, moon or stars) is forbidden by God (Deuteronomy 17:2-5; 2 Kings 21:3-7; 2 Kings 23:4-15; Ezekiel 8:15-16). Ishtar [pronounced "Aes-tar"] (the Babylonian/Chaldean goddess of love and war) and Semiramis (an Assyrian goddess) were both known as the "Queen of Heaven." And the "Queen of Heaven" is specifically mentioned in the Bible (Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 44:19, 25).

What, other than the obvious connection of the words "Easter" and "Eostre" does this goddess have to do with the modern celebration of Easter? Plenty.

Easter's connection with spring and nature. Diana (the Ephesian goddess of sex, fertility, virginity and motherhood) was said to be the source of nature. Eostre (an Anglo-Saxon/Teutonic goddess) was the goddess of the sunrise and spring. Ostara (a Norse/Saxon goddess) was the maiden goddess of spring.

Origins of Hares (Bunnies) and Eggs. According to Teutonic myth, the hare was once a bird whom Eostre changed into a four-footed creature. Thus, it can also lay eggs. The hare is also the sacred companion and sacrificial victim of Eostre. Astarte (a Phoenician/Syrian goddess), on the other hand, was believed to have been hatched from a huge egg which fell into the Euphrates.

Origins of Good Friday. Did you ever wonder why Good Friday is recognized as the day Jesus died and Sunday as the day he arose but yet had trouble explaining how he could thus be buried for three days and three nights? (Matthew 12:40; Matthew 27:63; Mark 8:31; Mark 9:31; Mark 10:34) The answer is simple: He didn't actually die on "Good Friday." The Chaldeans offered cakes to Ishtar on the equivalent of the day we know as Good Friday. When the established church wanted to appease the paganistic people in order to "convert" them to Christianity, they moved the dates accordingly. Jesus actually died on the day of Preparation of Passover Week, which that year occurred on Wednesday (John 19:14, 31-42). Thursday was the Sabbath of the Passover. Friday, Christ was still in the tomb. Saturday was the "regular" Sabbath. Jesus arose after the Saturday Sabbath was concluded, which was the first day of the week, the day we know as Sunday (Mark 16:9; John 20:1). For further clarification of the days concerning Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, see Matthew 27:50-28:7; Mark 15:25-16:6; Luke 23:44-24:8; John 19:14-20:17. An in-depth study from another author which addresses the timing of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection is also currently available on the Internet at

Origins of Hot Cross Buns and Fires. Cakes bearing a cross-like symbol representing the pair of cow-horns on the moon goddess, Isis, were offered by ancient Egyptians. The cakes which Greeks offered to Astarte and other divinities were called bous or boun, from which the word "bun" is derived. The Babylonians/Chaldeans offered similar cakes to the "Queen of Heaven." Fires were lit on top of mountains and had to be kindled from new fire, drawn from wood by friction. The fire was then used to bake cakes in sacrifice to Semiramis, the "Queen of Heaven." This practice, along with burning incense, was used in conjunction with baking the cakes and is mentioned specifically in the Bible (1 Kings 11:8; 2 Kings 17:7-16; 2 Kings 18:4; 2 Kings 23:4-15; Isaiah 17:8; Isaiah 27:9; Ezekiel 8:7-12; Jeremiah 7:16-19; Jeremiah 44:19, 25). In addition to the cross imprinted on these cakes representing the horns of the goddess, it also sometimes represented the four seasons or four phases of the moon. Cakes were also offered to or eaten in honor of Apollo, Diana, Hecate, and the moon (also Diana's symbol).

Origins of Lent. The word "lent" is of Anglo-Saxon origin meaning "spring." Lent developed from the pagan celebration of weeping, fasting, and mourning for 40 days over the death of Tammuz (one day for each year of his life). Tammuz (the son/husband of the Babylonian idol Ishtar) was killed by a wild boar and then allegedly resurrected. This mourning of Tammuz is specifically prophesied by Ezekiel in the Bible and is characterized by God Himself as being detestable (Ezekiel 8:13-15).

Origins of the use of the lily. Asherah (a Sidonian goddess) was frequently represented as a nude woman bestride a lion with a lily (symbolizing grace and sex appeal) in one hand and a serpent (symbolizing fecundity) in the other.

Origins of wearing new clothing for Easter. The tradition of wearing new clothing for Easter comes from the superstition that a new garment worn at Easter means good luck throughout the year.

Origins of the timing. The timing of the festival of "Eostar" (the festival of spring) predates the birth of Jesus Christ, and the festival was always celebrated in conjunction with pagan idol worship. In 325 A.D. it was conveniently linked to the full moon on or following the spring or vernal equinox, March 21, when nature is in resurrection after winter. This is also when Easter is celebrated in modern times. The timing of Jesus' resurrection is linked to the Passover rather than to the vernal equinox.

Who celebrates Easter? Witches, who base their celebrations (including Halloween) on the phases of the moon, celebrate Easter. Christians, however, are clearly forbidden from observing this pagan celebration (Deuteronomy 12:30-31; Luke 4:8; 1 Corinthians 10:20-22; Ephesians 5:11). There is a good reason why the early church never spoke of Easter and why there is absolutely no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament. (The only exception is a mistranslation in the King James version of Acts 12:4, where it gives the word "Easter" instead of the correction translation "Passover.") It was not an oversight on God's part; Christians simply are not to celebrate Easter, a pagan festival.

Honoring Christ. While there isn't anything wrong with spring, nature, rabbits, eggs, pastries, fires, lilies, or wearing new clothing, doing or observing such things only for "Easter" is either knowingly or unknowingly participating in pagan practices. Christians who do not yet see anything wrong with such practices should prayerfully read and study 1 Corinthians 10:18-11:1.

The intent of most Christians who celebrate "Easter" is actually to remember and honor Jesus Christ. Rather than celebrate His resurrection with worldly traditions, there are biblical ways for Christians.

First, we should call biblical things by Bible names. Rather than using the name of a false goddess, "Easter," Christians should use words which do not dishonor God. Some acceptable terms are "Resurrection Day" and "Resurrection Sunday."

The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus can still be remembered through observance of the Lord's Supper (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26) and other Christian worship.

Christians should always remember that the focus of the resurrection is Jesus Christ. Surely His sacrifice is enough. Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, and other pagan activities which add worldliness and traditions of men are unnecessary in our observation of Resurrection Day.

A decision to make. You now have a decision to make concerning Easter. In the oft-quoted words of Joshua: "Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:14-15 NIV)

Copyright © 1998-2001 Timothy A. & Kimberly B. Southall

Still Undecided About Whether Or Not You Should Celebrate "Easter"?
Read the devotion Good Enough