TW Viewpoint | The Real Story of How Easter Became "Christian"April 1, 2022 | Michael Heykoop
Easter weekend is considered the most sacred time of year for more than a billion professing Christians. Even for those whose belief can only be described as casual, it is likely one of the few occasions each year when church becomes the focus of attention. For others, it has simply become another long weekend with its own quirky traditions. Do you know the real history of this popular holiday? The real question is whether or not Easter is a lie. If it is a lie and Easter never happened, then when, and why did Christianity adopt Easter?
For Christians, there is likely no greater historical event than the death, burial and resurrection of the man for whom the religion is named—Jesus, the Christ. It is only natural that adherents would seek to memorialize, not only His death, but also His resurrection, symbolizing His victory over death. That this event ought to be remembered and honored is not the topic of this video: rather the question of whether the traditional Easter story actually represents the real event.
Most realize that many of the common symbols of Easter, such as egg-laying rabbits (which are discussed in a separate Viewpoint that can be found by clicking the link in the description), Easter lilies and baby chicks, are common fertility symbols and have nothing to do with the biblical narrative of the events being honored.
Sadly, many also brush off or ignore all-together the obvious contradiction found in the Easter story. Jesus gave only one sign that He was the son of God, that He would be dead and in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights. This is recorded in the 12th chapter of the book of Matthew. Yet, Easter weekend begins with Good Friday memorializing His death and ends with a sunrise service on Easter Sunday supposedly commemorating His resurrection. You don't need an abundance of fingers to discover that there is no way to squeeze both 3 days and 3 nights into that time period. A link to a short video explaining this controversy can also be found in the description.
A celebration in honor of an event that Christianity views as perhaps the most significant of all time seems like it should be the least controversial of holidays. Yet, only a few short centuries after the events in question, the issue of whether or not a Christian should observe Easter was one of the most controversial issues facing the young Church.
The early historian Eusebius records the controversy of those who would not yield to Rome's insistence that Christ's death and resurrection be memorialized through what would become known as Easter weekend:
"A question of no small importance arose at that time. For the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour's Passover." (Eusebius, "Church History," Book 5, Chapter 23)
These rebels in Asia were led by Polycrates who had been taught directly by a student of the apostle John. He held firm that Passover served as a sufficient remembrance of Christ's death and should not be replaced with Easter.
At the council of Nicaea in AD 325, Emperor Constantine guided the decision that decreed that Easter should be observed on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. From that time forward, the Passover faded into oblivion for mainstream Christianity and Easter weekend became a primary focus.
Today's Easter story does not align with the biblical account, instead relying on the spring equinox—like many early pagan festivals—to determine its date. It is highlighted by pagan fertility symbols and even draws from paganism in its very name—in honor of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, Eostre, and the Babylonian goddess, Ishtar.
What is the real story of how Easter became Christian? It never did.
If you would like to learn more about the history of Easter and the process by which it was adopted by professing Christianity, read our free booklet, "Easter: the Untold Story".