There are a growing number of Christians who think that the celebration of “Easter” is rooted in pagan Babylonian tradition. One of the basic assumptions is that the name “Easter” is a Christian appropriation of “Ishtar”, a Babylonian fertility goddess. Even though the words may sound similar, they probably have no etymological connection. The English word “Easter” likely comes from the Proto-Germanic “austron”, which means “sunrise” – arguably a fitting name for a celebration that commemorates Jesus’ rising from the dead.

It is important to understand that outside of the English-speaking world, “Easter” is known by its proper name “Pascha”.  This means that the majority of Christians in the world celebrate, “Pascha” –  an Aramaic synonym of the Hebrew Pesach, which means “Passover,” rather than, “Easter.”

During this feast, traditional Christians celebrate the work of Christ’s redemption, believing that only in His resurrection is God’s forgiveness truly sealed. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, the wrath of God passes over the heads of believers just as the Angel of Death passed over the Israelite homes marked by the blood of the lamb during their captivity in Egypt.

However, an average, English-speaking Christian often fails to see the direct connection between “Easter/Pascha” and “Passover/Pesach”. Many of the rituals and customs appear different.  Also, in order to ensure that no one connected (and therefore confused) the two, it was decided at the Council of Nicea (325 CE) that the feast of Easter/Pascha would be celebrated according to a different calendar –  not on the 14th of Nissan as was originally decreed in the Torah of Moses.

Is Easter a Pagan holiday? No. In fact, it is fundamentally a biblical holiday, but one that has been robbed of its true Jewish character and taken out of its original Israelite setting.

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99 COMMENTS

  1. I have a question. I’m trying to understand. If Easter “has been robbed of its true Jewish character and taken out of its original Israelite setting” then could it honestly be said to have retained its connections to Passover? When Aaron’s sons offered “strange fire” and Uzzah tried to prevent the ark of the covenant from falling off the cart (which was not the way Adonai told them to transport it), they both were struck dead. How is robbing Easter of its true Jewish character and taking it out of its original Israelite setting be any different?

    • I have the same impression after reading this blog. On the one hand – the Sunday (day that Yeshua raised from the dead) is based on a fixed day/date set by a “tradition” is far from scripture) I would have justified it like this in the past… but today, it just does not sit well when we are brought to the attention of how Passover works – the meaning and the fulfillment … I pray this blog being well intentioned … does not answer fully the debate about GOOD-FRIDAY (Also related in the matter) and EASTER!

      • Actually Y’Shua would have died on the stake which was from noon till 3:00 in the afternoon on a Thursday .Y’Shua rose right after Shabbat

        • Nissan 14 that year was Wednesday; he rose on Shabbat – 3 days, 3 nights. Miriam cannot touch High Priest until haBikkurim presented to Father..

      • And pleasing to the palette when eaten and to the nose when warmed. I question the validity of the ‘pagan’ appendage when applied to any of the adiaphora – “indifferent things” that individuals and some churches include in their holiday celebrations.

      • Jeremiah 7:18; The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the Queen of Heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods to spite me. Where else in Christianity do we see this parallel???

        • The full verse.
          Jeremiah 7:18 King James Version (KJV)
          18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

      • @Melusi The link is Nimrod & the worship of his mother/wife – the Babylonian fertility goddess, “the queen of heaven” – Semiramis; their son, Tammuz.

    • Hot Cross Buns – # 1 – Forbidden During Unleavened Bread # 2 – They are Cakes Baked to the “QUEEN OF HEAVEN” ISHTAR. Furthermore – ISHTAR “Sunrise Services” have NOTHING to do with Yeshua rising from the grave! When the Women got to the tomb on the first day – IT WAS STILL DARK and Yeshua was ALREADY RISEN!!!! 40 Days of Lent = Weeping For Tammuz – see Ezekiel 8 :14!!! SUNRISE SERVICES = “you shall see greater abominations… their faces toward the east; and they worshiped the sun toward the east.” Ezekiel 8:16

    • That was my question also.It doesnt make any sense to me if it is a biblical festival then why do we have easter eggs etc and Christmas trees and all that.

      • Rabbit/hares, eggs, and green trees are certainly all symbols of fertility and are related to the vernal equinox and winter solstice. Aside from this, the egg tradition may have started with an Eastern Orthodox fast and then subsequent celebration during easter, but then continued in Germany with decorated eggs but without the fast. If these symbols of fertility are not welcome at your next Easter/Pascha/Passover, then be sure to leave them out. 🙂

  2. I disagree totally with the previous statement, and Easter is totally “pagan.” The scripture is very clear about Passover when you looked at Exo. 12:43-48, Deut 16:1-7; and In the time of Yeshua – the leaven he was talking about is the “Hypocrisy” of the Pharisees and Sadducees Luke 12:1ff…Thanks

  3. Every Christian I’ve ever met, and I speak only English, know that Christ is the passover, is the lamb, the shed blood…most English speaking Christians know the historicity of ALL that Christ our lord fulfilled according to the scriptures. Christianity conquered paganism and stands high above it and replaced it…easy to figure out! One day more holy to one than to another, God judges the heart.

    • God has not changed is mind about the celebrations He put down for us to observe, we Christians are the ones who think we know better than Him, I suggest it is time to go back and study Torah you will be Blessed if you do and obey

      • Both Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg’s and those in opposition are correct. The Council of Nicea, headed up by the Roman Emperor Constantine brought confusion into Christianity. Because the Easter celebration is so entrenched in general society, Christians are unaware of the intricacies of the Jewish Holy days/times (such as Gerry has presented) therefore they continue with their celebration of Easter… thereby Todd Peters comments are also true… God judges the heart… of those, which in all honesty celebrate the death and resurrection of their Saviour at “Easter”.

        • I find it amazing how supposedly intelligent and educated people are blind to the Truth of God’s Word. The Council of Nicea was a Gentile gathering of the pagan Catholic religion, the 7th World Empire of Satan and the 3rd Beast of Daniel 7. Easter and Passover are separate celebrations, one Christian/Jewish, and the other pagan. The Lord was Born on Tishrei 15, Died on Nisan 14 and Resurrected on Nisan 16. The Law of God is very specific as to when these events were to occur. He did not resurrect in the morning and not on Sunday.

  4. Thank you so very much. I greatly appreciate your explanation and intend to use it to explain to those I know that consider Easter a pagan holiday!

  5. I found an unusual definition of Pesach (PaXaCH). There were two meanings that jumped out at me: hopping over (being grabbed by a leg), and to limp. This sounds similar to the story of Jacob. Is the story of Jacob a picture of the Peasach (becoming Israel)?

  6. You can not take something “unholy” and clean it up and offer it back to GOD. Throughout the scriptures that was tried and rejected and punished. Yehovah warned them each time they went into a pagan land to destroy everything, high place and altar less they clean it up and begin to offer sacrifices to HIM using something that had been an abomination in HIS sight. Because HE knew if not they would “try” to merge the two. Scriptures, history and any study will prove 100% that Easter and Passover have nothing in common but “good intentions.” Hell is full..”

    • Kenneth, a scripture that comes to mind in what you are saying is Isaiah 30:1. You can keep reading in chapter 30 which is a really interesting chapter. Do you have other scriptures in mind to support this also?

  7. There was ONE SIGN and ONE SIGN ONLY that Yeshua gave to the Pharisees. READ Matthew 12:39-40. Yeshua died on Passover (a WEDNESDAY that year) . He was put in the tomb BEFORE SUNDOWN before the HIGH SABBATH – THE FIRST DAY OF UNLEAVENED BRED (not the WEEKLY SABBATH.) He rose 72 hours later BEFORE SUNDOWN SATURDAY, the beginning of FIRSTFRUITS. In the morning, while it was still dark, HE WAS ALREADY GONE FROM THE TOMB. — But deceived people believe the LIE that Yeshua DIED of Friday, and rose SUNDAY MORNING (36 hours later) and DENY THE ONE SIGN

    • That’s good Gerry! I think that many believers seem to just accept what is told and taught without questioning what is the “truth”!

    • Actually, Thursday crucified in daylight rather than beginning hours on Holy Sabbath at sundown Wednesday when he was arrested after celebrating Passover meal with disciples, trial that night by Pilate.

      • Not so: Last Supper, Gethsemane, arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial all on Wednesday, 14 Nisan. Passover lamb sacrificed between sunset/twilight; Passover meal afterward, 15 Nisan, Thursday.

    • Yes, Easter is a Christian holiday in its meaning, but many if not most of the traditions carried on by mainline denominations are either outright pagan or at best anti-biblical.

  8. During the celebration of Pesaj (Passover) there are three pieces of Matzo and the middle piece known as the Aficoman is wrapped in a cloth and hidden. Children go out and find it to be retrieved for a reward. This piece of Matzo (Aficoman) is a representation of Y’Shua being burried and His resurrection. No Easter egg hunts here, for deceiving children that rabbits hatch eggs we do not practice. Be Blessed

    • Love it. Now that’s a beautiful picture of celebrating the Passover — Foreshadowed and Revealed! Praise Him who came and paid the full price for our sin to all whom believe.

  9. Gerry is right, though the depth is greater. The remembering this special week and delving into the events, and considering each recorded episode is the reality of fully grasping to understand the depth of the suffering Yeshua accepted and allowed the ones attacking so much, which was a covering of the basis of – well, sicknesses – people can have and that His death after His such in depth hurt He accepted especially from the leader of His work, now really going to destroy this so called leader of me and my “mob”. This term is quite accurate… study it

  10. It’s very interested to learn more, my family was old christain ” Catholic”. And said as you guys describe. And I have found from the Pagan – tradition was celebrate Ester was Pagan. And another article I found was ” Pagan- witch”. But good to be and good to learn Thanks u.

  11. True to some extent but then why are there eggs used for Resurrection day? Aren’t they pagan and connected to Isthar worship? So if some one calls the resurrection day as Easter and uses Easter eggs aren’t they following the age old tradition of Isthar worship? Is not Pesach/Passover called as Good Friday and commemorated as the day of crucification, the slaughter of the Lamb? Is not that day Nissan 14th?

    • Eggs are forbidden to eat for Lent, so they collected mass amounts of them and finally could eat them on Resurrection Sunday morning. They also had a tie as one of the elements in the Pesach meal- roasted/burnt eggs.

  12. Pagan and Torah forbidden all the way. Start at Exodus 32:5 They called the golden calf worship a feast to G-d (Hashem)by His name they called this worship. Then go to Deuteronomy 12:29 and on. I feel I am being neglectful in not sighting every verse but you can look them up. Do not learn the way of the nations and worship me like that, don’t do it, don’t treat me like that. Midrosh on lots of verses that say that. If you are a teacher of Israel and not a false prophet. Teach Israel the Truth~ don’t tickle ears.

  13. There is a book available that covers all contradictory beliefs and forms of pagan worship.It is called Fossilized Customs by Lew White and is available as a free pdf download this book will open your eyes to the historical proof of all false doctrines and should be read..

  14. I am still stuck on the “death Angel” passover comment. My Bible says the Lord passed over. Angels don’t sit in judgement. Only God.

    • The Lord passed over (in protection) of those who were in houses where the blood was placed on the doorposts and lintel… so they would not be affected by the Angel of death. God is always in control, though your perception is that the angel was sitting in judgement… not so.

    • Scripture states the “Destroyer” passed over. God stood, according to the Hebrew, over the threshhold so the Destroyer could not enter. Isaiah states (I believe ch 54) that God created the Destroyer to wreak havoc on God’s enemies. That is why Revelation discussions on Abaddon (which means Destroyer) mean something a little different to me. I am inclined to believe it is the same Destroyer that killed the 1st born of Egypt.

    • For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. Ex: 12:12

  15. Probably one of the most interesting discussions on this topic after the Apostolic era is that between Polycarp (a direct student of the Apostle John), Irenaeus, and Aniceptus of Rome (in the 1st Century) in which Irenaeus discussed that, although Polycarp observed the Passover and other feasts based on biblical timing, they remained in fellowship with those in Rome (Aniceptus) that celebrated the timing for the resurrection based on the Feast of Ishtar. This is not the modern practices of Easter, just the timing changed to be based on the Julian calendar.

  16. I found this discussion very interesting. Obviously, I couldn`t agree with every perspective, for there were contradictions. If I may present what I believe the scriptures teach, it is this: Jesus the Christ did not die on Friday (as so many believe). I believe He died on Thursday at 3:00pm (our time) He remained in the grave Thursday, Friday and Saturday;;;(3 days) And the nights correspond. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Rising early the first day of the week (our Sunday) As regards Easter being pagan, NO, I don`t believe it is. It comes closest to the Biblical account.

  17. This is the kind of thing that totally confuses me. I too, have been brought up celebrating Easter (not bunnies and eggs) and the death and resurrection of Jesus, but my daughter and her mother-in-law argue against Easter. So when I saw the title of this post, I was immediately interested. But after reading the comments, I got more confused, because everyone is right, and everyone is wrong. Who to believe? I am by no means a Biblical scholar. I know I need to study Scripture, but don’t know how. Thank you.

  18. Thank you Dr. Eli for your presentation on root words of Easter from various languages and belief systems. Is Easter about chocolate bunnies and colored eggs? No, Easter is the celebration of the Risen Lord Jesus, who was crucified and died the Sacrificial Lamb in alignment with the Hebrew high Holy period of Passover. He rose on Sunday morning, born the first fruits of the resurrection. The divergence of the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars is part of the confusion.

  19. Easter in all it’s forms is extra biblical. The apostles doctrine says they “met on the first day of the week to break bread.” Jesus said we are to “do this in remembrance of me.” It’s every Lord’s Day, not one Lord’s Day.

  20. No matter how much we try to justify it, Easter is pagan. We are warned not to add to or subtract from Yahweh’s commandments –Deut. 4 v 2.

  21. Easter eggs,pagan. Changing natural things to unnatural,also pagan”bunnies” I love the idea of a Jewish passover,Seder,and would like to commemorate this way but I don’t know enough of the culture! I’m trying to learn!

  22. Humbly, this comes to mind: In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Romans 14:5. So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ himself is that reality. Colossians 2:16-17.

  23. Deuteronomy 4:2 You shall not ADD to the word that I command you, nor TAKE FROM IT, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you. This post is crap, sounds like compromise and trying to get along with people, you can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig! That’s my two shekel’s worth, Shalom

  24. Matthew 12:38-40 the Messiah said: Just as Jonah was 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. We know he died at 3:00 PM and Jewish days start at sundown…so 1. Wednesday sundown the tomb is closed ; Thursday sundown would be 24 hours since Tomb is closed; Friday sundown 48 hours since Tomb is closed. Saturday sundown, 72 hours since Tomb closed 3 days, 3 nights. Tomb is empty. Not Friday to Sunday.

  25. Why did Christians have to forge their own tradition not commanded in the Bible? If it was meant to refer to the Passover, why not simply call it that? They seem to have done the same with many their other pagan traditions just to look different from the Jewish faith. To me, the invention of Sunday as the Christian equivalent of the Sabbath day is one of the examples which have no biblical support. The pagan trinity doctrine is another.

  26. Shalom. I have understood for a long time that the Last Supper we were taught about in Sunday School was Yeshua and his Apostles eating the Passover meal. I try to keep this Passover as best I can with the written instructions I have received from Messianic Jews. Thank you for this lovely explanation.

  27. Shalom. Thank you for this article. Personally, I believe once one has done their research well, they then become responsible for this knowledge. Some will have their children believing in bunnys & hunting eggs. Please teach the Truth. It’s all about Yeshua, not fertility rituals. Happy Passover & Resurrection Day

  28. very misleading article. You will be held responsible for what you you have chosen to omit in this. Even though I have benefitted greatly and still do from the valuable teachings of this ministry, this is yet another example of teachings that restrain me from committing further to your ministry,

  29. I’m continually amazed on how many wives tales and myths have crept into so called bible believing churches. Glad you wrote this article. I love it. And here we are finally united in keeping pesach and Easter together…. Significant much?

  30. I have seen an extensive article trying to say Easter come from East but why then the rabbits and eggs which connect it to the pagan goddess

    • The egg tradition may have started with an Eastern Orthodox fast and then subsequent celebration during Easter, but then continued in Germany with decorated eggs but without the fast. The rabbits are a fertility symbol. They do not belong in the celebration of Messiah’s resurrection.

  31. Easter is pagan and is the celebration of the fertility goddess Astarteh or Ishtah and has nothing to do with Pesach (Passover) or the resurrection of the Messiah, Yeshua. Suffice to say the so called Jewish teachers involved with this forum have their eyes closed to the TRUTH.

  32. Actually, the word “Easter” is old Celtic in origin. It is a formulation of the name Oestre, the old Celtic Goddess of fertility. Her symbol was the egg, and her animal was the rabbit, chosen for it’s rapid fertility.

  33. Easter appears to me to be fully Christian in exactly the same way that Aaron’s celebration involving the golden calf was “a festival to YHVH”.

  34. Up until this I’ve enjoyed all of your articles. I feel like your trying to appease the masses with this one. It’s most definitely pagan. Disappointed for sure.

    • I’m sorry to disappoint, Jocelyn. If people are sacrificing to false gods, and celebrating them with fertility rites and symbols, then I agree that is pagan. But is this how most churches celebrate it?

  35. The Passover, the death and resurrection are scriptural. As for the rest, it is steeped in the Paganism which gradually usurped the true Biblical teachings

  36. Why did Christians move away from the Jewish feasts anyway? Didn’t the early believers celebrate them? I feel like I’ve been robbed of them.

    • The short answer is a form of Antisemitism. Jews were disliked in the Roman empire (e.g., Acts 18:2b) and for Christians to keep Jewish feasts was to identify with Jews. Peer pressure on the majority Gentile group caused Christians to move away from the feasts.

      • That makes sense, unfortunately. So now we celebrate holidays that are associated with the Catholic Church of which I’ve never been a part of.

  37. Dear Dr.Eyzenberg I want to tell you that I have learned a lot from reading these small explanations that you write. Thank you.

  38. I so agree with Dr. Eli. How many churches that celebrate Easter also teach that rabbits and eggs are the essentials of Easter?

  39. In 60+ years, every Church taught that Jesus sacrificial atonement was the essentials of Easter. Bunnies were used for illustration only. No focus on bunnies.

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