The World Almanac, 1968 edition, page 187, says: "In the second century A.D., Easter Day was, among Christians in Asia Mino [that is, in the Chruches at Ephesus, Galatia, etc. --the so-called "Gentile" churches raised up by the Apostle Paul] the 145h of Nisan, the seventh month of the Jewish [civil] calendar." In other words, the 14th day of the first month of the sacred calendar, and it was not then called by the name of the pagan deity "Easter," but by the Bible name "Passover."
Passover, the Days of Unleaened Bread, Pentecost, and the holy days God had ordained forever were all observed by Jesus, and the early apostles, and the converted Gentile Christians (Acts 2:1; 12:3; 18:21; 20:6, 16; I Cor. 5:7-8; 16:8). Passover is a memorial of the crucifixion of Christ (Luke 22:19). Passover, observed by the early true Church, occurred not on Sunday or any fixed day of the week, but on a calendar day of the year. The day of the week varies from year to year.
Easter is one of the pagan days Paul warned Gentile converts they must not return to observing (Gal. 4:9-10.
How, then did this pagan festival enter into and fasten itself upon a professing Christianity? That is a surprising story-but first, notice the true origin and nature of Easter.
Its Chaldean Origin
Easter, as Alexander Hislop says (The Two Babylons, p.103), "bears its Chaldean origin on its very forehead. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven...."
The ancient gods of the pagans had many different names. While this goddess was called Astarte by the Phoenicians, it appears on Assyrian monuments found by Layard in excavations at Nineveh as Ishtar (Austen H. Layard, Nineveh and Babylon, Vol. II, p. 629). Both were pronounced "Easter." Likewise, Bel (referred to in the Old Testament), also was called Molech. It was for sacrificing to Molech (I Kings 11:1-11, especially verse 7, where Molech is called an abomination) and other pagan gods that the Eternal condemned Solomon, and rent away the Kingdom of Israel from his son.
In the ancient Chaldean idolatrous sun-worship, as practiced by the Phoenicians, Baal was the sun god; Astarte, his consort or wife. And Astarte is the same as Ishtar or the English "Easter."
Says Hislop: "The festival, of which we read in Church history, under the name of Easter, in the third or fourth centuries, was quite a different festival from that now observed in the Romish [and Protestant] Church, ansd at that time was not known by any such name as Easter. It was called Pascha, or the Passover, and...was very early observed by many professing Christians....That festival agreed originally with the time of the Jewish Passover, when Christ was crucified...That festival was not idolatrous, and it was preceded by no Lent" (The Two Babylons, p. 104).
The following is the Origin of Passover from the book Holiday Symbols 1998, by Omnigraphics and edited by Sue Ellen Thompson. (pgs. 358-359)
Type of Holiday: Religious (Jewish)
Date of Observation: Begins between March 27 and April 24; 15-22 (or 22) Nisan.
Where Celebrated: Europe, United States, and by Jews all over the world
Symbols: Afikomen, Bitter Herbs, Egg, Elijah's Cup, Four Cups of Wine, Four Questions, Haggadah, Haroset, Karpas, Lamb Bone, Salt Water, Unleavened Bread (Matzoh)
According to the Bible, the Jews settled in Egypt, in the area around the Nile, at the invitation of Joseph. When the Pharoahs launched an ambitious building program, the Hebrews were forced into service and gradually became slaves. The Book of Exodus tells the story of their suffering and how their leader Moses, brought them out of bondage and led them to the land that had been promised to their forefaters-an event considered to be the birth of the Jewish nation.
When the Pharoah referred to in Exodus (believed by scholars to be Ramses II) refused to let Moses lead the Jews out of Egypt, God sent nine plagues-including frogs, lice, locusts, fire, and hailstones-to change Pharoah's mind. But Pharoah remained unmoved, so God devised a tenth plague, sending the Angel of Death to kill the first-born son of every Egyptian household. The Jews, however, were warned ahead of time to sacrifice a lamb and sprinkle the blood on their doorposts so that the Angel of Death would "pass over" and spare their sons. Pharoah finally relented, and the Jews were allowed to leave.
Although Passover is an eight-day celebration of the Jews' deliverance from slavery in Egypt, it appears that its roots go back even further. The early inhabitants of the region known as Canaan (now Palestine) were farmers, and they held seasonal rites to honor their local gods. Their spring festival was known as Pesach, which in Hebrew meant "skipping" or "gamboling," and it apparently involved the sacrifice of lambs.When Moses led the Hebrew tribes out of slavery in Egypt and the people chose Jehovah to be their God-an event that occurred during the Hebrew month of Nisan (March-April)-the ancient spring festival or Pesach was reinterpreted to mean the "skipping over" or "passing over" of Jewish homes by the Angel of Death. Today, Pesach and Passover refer to the same holiday.
Passover is traditionally observed for seven days, from the 15th to the 21st of Nisan. Today, however, only the Jews of Israel and Reform Jews of other countries do this. Orthodox and Conservative Jews observe it for eight days, the first two of which are the most important. The primary activity is a special feast called the Seder, which means "order" and consists of several symbolic foods that are eaten in a particular sequence, including a hard-boiled EGG, a roasted LAMB BONE, parsley dipped in SALT WATER, BITTER HERBS, HAROSET, and matzoh or UNLEAVENED BREAD. The HAGGADAH, or story of the exodus from Egypt, is read aloud to explain the historical and religious meaning of the holiday. As the Seder comes to and end, people eat the last piece of matzoh, known as the AFKOMEN, and thank God for the gift of their freedom.
Several features of the Seder and the accompanying narrative seem to indicate that these rituals have not been handed down intact from a particular age but have evolved from a number of different ages, providing a capsule history of the Jews. The custom of reclining on cushions while eating the meal, the preliminary dipping of parsley in salted water, and the eating of eggs as an hors d'oeuvre, for example, are all characteristic of a typical Roman banquet. Reciting the Haggadah may also have been modeled after the Roman practice of reading literary works aloud at mealtime.
The exact dates of the events related in the story of Passover are not known with any certainty. According to the Book of Exodus, sosme 600,000 Hebrews left Egypt after living there for 430 years. On the basis of this biblical accont, scholars have calculated that they became slaves there in the fourteenth century B.C.E. and that they fled Egypt around 1270 B.C.E.
The following is the Origin of Easter from the book Holiday Symbols 1998, by Omnigraphics and edited by Sue Ellen Thompson. ( pgs. 106-107)
Type of Holiday: Religious (Christian). Principal feast of the Christian year.
Date of Observation: Between March 22 and April 25 in the West; between April 4 and May 8 in the East; first Sunday after the first full moon on or folowing the vernal equinox
Where Celebrated: Easter is celebrated worldwide, in over 80 nations
Symbols: Easter Bonnet, Easter Bunny, Easter Eggs, Easter Fires, Easter Lily, Paschal Candle, Paschal Lamb
Colors: Purple is the ecclesiastical color associated with Easter in the Christian Church. It symbolizes the union of love and pain in repentance. Purpe or violet is used throughout Holy Week as well as on ASH WEDNESDAY and during LENT and ADVENT.
Related Holidays: Ash Wednesday, Carnival, Lent, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday
It was common during the early days of Christianity to try to attract new converts by blending specifically Christian observances with existing pagan festivals. Just as the observation of Christmas was moved from January 6 to December 25, where it would coincide with the pagan celebration of the winter solstice, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was traditionally identified with March 25, perhaps in the hope that it would supplant the ancient pagan festival in honor of the vernal equinox.
Many of the symbols associated with Easter have their roots in the ancient rituals celebrating the arrival of spring. The delight that the pagans took in watching the land's rebirth at the end of winter has much in common with the Christian celebration of Christ's resurrection and triumph over death.
The name "Easter" may have come from the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre, whose feast was celebrated in the spring and who was associated with spring and fertility.
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