The Easter celebration is said to be a joyous, if solemn, commemoration of the resurrection of the Messiah. It is recorded that Yeshua was risen on a Sunday and therefore Easter is always celebrated on a Sunday rather than a fixed date on the calendar. One may wonder how it is that bunny rabbits and decorated eggs figure so prominently in the context of the Lord's resurrection. It's not complicated. These are simply pagan fertility symbols absorbed and subsumed by the Christian church in another great demonstration of supreme arrogance in an adulterous compromise with pagan culture and tradition.
Determining the date of the annual celebration -- now that's a little more complicated. The Jewish Passover is celebrated on the first full moon following the vernal equinox. Setting this date each year on the Jewish calendar is pretty straightforward, even though it changes every year by the reckoning of the Gregorian calendar. Prior to the invention of the Gregorian calendar (1582), the Romans used the Julian calendar, both of which are solar calendars, and neither of which synchronize with the Jewish solar/lunar calendar. The early Christian community was dominated by Jews who knew Passover, as well as the Jewish calendar, and would have observed the Lord's sacrifice with fasting, and timed the observance in accordance with the Passover. They would have understood the prophetic association of the sacrifice of Yeshua on the cross, and the sacrificial lambs of Passover.
By the second century some Christians would celebrate Easter on the day of Nissan 14 by the Jewish calendar, and others on the Sunday following Nissan 14, no matter the interval of days. Back then, Christians were already celebrating a commemoration of the Lord's sacrifice on different dates.
Something seems to have gotten tangled and twisted along the way in the post-apostolic church. As Greeks, Latins and other Gentiles began to dominate the church, the observance began to change. The Fourteenthers were in fact celebrating the blessed 'sacrifice' which Yeshua had given Himself over to at the time of Passover. The Latins of the Western church, on the other hand, were changing the celebration to Sunday, always Sunday, to place greater emphasis on commemorating the resurrection rather than the sacrifice, because we know the resurrection was discovered on a Sunday morning. While the early church fathers were determined to separate the Christian community from it's Judaic roots, the Jewish calendar was likewise discarded as of no value compared to the superior Julian calendar. Great controversy divided the church over these issues, yet curiously, both camps referred to their respective celebrations as "Easter."
It was Pope Soter, Bishop of Rome from 167 to 174 C.E., who tried to settle the matter. His papacy was known for two declarations:
1. A marriage is only valid if blessed by a priest, otherwise it lacks legitimacy.
2. The formal inauguration of "Easter" as an annual observance, and he formally assigned the celebration to Sunday.
The Latin term "Quartodeciman" (fourteenth) refers to the practice of observing Pesach or Passover on Nissan 14 by the Hebrew calendar. According to early church historians, the churches in the provinces of Asia were considered Quartodecimanii (Latin for fourteenthers), while the Roman and Alexandrian churches continued the fast until the following Sunday, wishing to associate the Easter celebration with a given day of the week rather than being too entangled with the Jewish custom surrounding the seasonal Paschal moon. Christian separation from Judaism was the ultimate intention. This Sunday practice also sought to broaden the church's appeal to the pagan Greek and Roman people who were already worshippers of the sun, Sol Invictus, in long established pagan rites. It was at this point in the early post-apostolic church, that a large segment of the congregation (primarily the Latin segment) broke off and simply walked away from it's Jewish roots and foundation.
The Jewish Passover is not a fixed date in Gregorian terms. The full moon, the Paschal moon (Nissan 14), can occur on any day of the week, including Sundays, and at any time of the month from March 22 to April 25 as reckoned by our Gregorian calendar. Yet the Gregorian calendar wasn't adopted until 1582. The calendar in common use prior to that was the Julian calendar, first brought into use, by imperial edict, on January 1, 45 B.C. and applied throughout the Roman empire. One of the contemporary problems within Christendom is that the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches still use the Julian calendar for liturgical purposes. While no longer Quartodeciman in the classical sense, they still celebrate Easter on different dates than the Roman Catholics. Incidentally, they also celebrate Christmas on a different day.
Each year, the Secretariat of Divine Worship of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) publishes the Liturgical Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States of America. This calendar takes the entire year and lists each day's celebration, rank, liturgical color, lectionary citations, and psalter cycle (for the liturgy of the hours). The point, however, is that the date of Easter is especially significant because so many other liturgical celebrations key off of this date, considered the most important holy day of the Christian liturgical calendar.
Ash Wednesday - which begins the season of Lent, is 46 days before the date of Easter. Lent is 40 days of fasting, six days of feasting. Traditionally, the ashes used are made from the burnt palms from the previous years palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday - one week before Easter Sunday
Good Friday - Friday before Easter Sunday, taught traditionally as the date of the sacrifice
Easter Sunday - the day of the Lord's resurrection
Ascension Day, or Ascension Thursday - the day the Lord was taken up, traditionally 40 days after Easter Sunday
Pentecost / Whitsunday - the seventh Sunday after Easter
The council of Nicaea (325 AD), among other things, set about to establish a formulation for the date of Easter that would be agreed to and observed by all Christians in common. Easter would henceforth be celebrated on the first Sunday, following the first full moon, following the vernal equinox. One thing though, it could never, ever, be allowed to fall on the same date as the Jewish Passover. If the Paschal moon falls on a Sunday, then Easter shall be delayed one week. After all, we wouldn't want the muttonheads (the sleepy sheep) to suspect a connection between the Jewish festival of the sacrificial lambs and the sacrifice of Yeshua the Lord, the "Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world." They might start asking questions, wondering about replacement theology and such. Keep them focused on Easter, and the whole Lenten lead up to Easter and Holy Week, and don't even mention Passover. Muttonheads are so easily confused. We wouldn't want them to question how the blood of those lambs saved the Hebrews in Egypt, causing the Angel of Death to Passover their homes, in the same way the sacrificial blood of Yeshua provides for our own salvation. The weight of this important point is that it forms one of the primary foundational keystones of the communion between Judaism and Christianity.
Many Christians seek alternatives to the "Easter" Sunday celebration. Some will try calling it something else, such as Resurrection Sunday, but otherwise remain in harmony with the Mother church and her established conventions for Easter. Other Christians favor alternatives that shed the observance of the Easter Sunday celebration altogether. Rather, choosing to celebrate the Lord's last supper. An event that took place prior to his crucifixion and resurrection. In other words, the Quartodeciman controversy lives on.
This sounds simple enough. Yeshua shared a last dinner with the apostles, thought by many to have been a Passover Seder dinner, a point disputed by others. At this time the Lord instituted the sacrament of sharing the wine and bread as symbols of His flesh and blood, given for the salvation of mankind. Towards the end of the dinner He requested that they continue to do this as a remembrance of him.
In this case, a tangible request was made that his followers would continue to observe the "last supper." He was, after all, the Passover's sacrificial lamb, and up until the sacrifice, this was a joyous occasion. No such mandate was made where the resurrection was concerned.
Of course, nothing is ever so simple. One runs immediately into new questions, such as what day was it, the 14th or the 15th, that the last supper was held? Why do the synoptic gospels disagree with the gospel of John? Was it a Seder dinner? How does the Fast of the Firstborns figure in, given that Yeshua was a first-born?
From the time the Hebrews were wandering in the wilderness, when the mandate for the Passover observance first appeared, until 70 C.E. when the Temple was destroyed, families would bring their lambs for sacrifice on the Temple alter. The priests would then conduct the ceremonial rite of sacrifice. The meat would then be retrieved and taken home for consumption by the Jewish family. Roasted lamb, to be eaten standing up, with your shoes on, along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs were the core elements of the Passover meal, and this is what it would have been in the time of Yeshua. The expanded Seder plate was devised later, over time, by the Rabbis, ostensibly to keep the traditions alive after the destruction of Jerusalem.
The question concerning the term "Seder" is a side issue. Clearly there was a ritualized Passover meal, and the Last Supper was one. From there, the controversies proliferate.
alternatives to Easter Sunday
origins of the word "Easter"
It's interesting to note that the word "Easter" is used once in the King James Authorized Version (Acts 12:4), in a passage that usually translates as "Passover." KJAV published 1611.
The word "Easter" originates from the name of an ancient pagan fertility goddess. A Christian scholar named Bede (672-735 A.D.) tried to assert that the word was a variation of the name "Eostre," who was the mother goddess of the Saxon people of Northern Europe. However, there are no shrines, historical accounts, or any other evidence to support this claim. --- Apologists, ugh.
It most likely comes from the name of Ishtar, the goddess of fertility, who was celebrated each year with the onset of the spring season. This of course, would fall on, or shortly after the vernal equinox. The fact that the Jewish Passover falls at about the same time each year is purely coincidental, given that Passover has nothing to do with rites of fertility or springtime renewal. Other variations of this goddess' name are:
Astarte - ancient Greece
Ashtoreth - ancient Israel
Hathor - ancient Egypt
Ishtar - ancient Mesopotamia
Thus, came the belief among early Christians that Satan had invented counterfeit deities in advance of the Messiah's coming, in order to confuse the people of God. It can be concluded that the names of pagan gods and goddesses, as well as the traditions associated with them, were grafted on to the stories of Yeshua's life, death and resurrection, in order to make Christian theology more accommodating to pagans. You might call it a misguided outreach program.
God gave an applicable warning:
"And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth." - Exodus 23:13
If "Easter" is a variant of the name of a pagan goddess, and it is, then we are advised by Yahweh, not even to speak the name. The churchmen of Christendom know all this, there's nothing new here, yet none will speak to correcting this ridiculous error, to the everloving shame of the Christian clergymen. Shame on ya'll, obey God.
You could say, the “Last Supper” was absolutely not a Passover meal. John 18:28 makes it clear that the Passover meal was to be eaten the evening after Jesus is arrested and crucified. So he was arrested on Preparation Day. Compare that to Mark 14:12-18, which makes it clear that Jesus absolutely did eat the Passover, so he was crucified the day after, or actually the same day (Passover) by Jewish reckoning. Yet, Passover is a High Sabbath, and Yeshua would not have been crucified on a Sabbath. Matthew 27: 62 indicates that Yeshua was crucified on the Day of Preparation, which preceded the beginning of Passover, which would have started that evening. The beginning of Passover coincides with the Feast of unleavened bread, the beginning of both is a High Sabbath, and can occur on any day of the week. Which Sabbath are we talking about anyway? A regular Seventh day Sabbath or an irregular High Sabbath? The tomb was found empty on the morning following a Sabbath, which was a Sunday morning.
Tradition suggests the Lord was killed on Friday (so-called Good Friday), before the beginning of the Sabbath at sundown. That would mean he was in the tomb three days, and two nights. Yet Yeshua said;
That's not the same as three days and two nights. Ugh, it starts to hurt the feeble, beleaguered brain of a simple man. This is what gives rise to the argument that Yeshua was actually crucified on a Thursday, not Friday. Actually, though, if you break it down by Jewish reckoning, counting days from sundown to sundown, and assume he was crucified on the preparation day prior to the Pesach High Sabbath, rather than a regular Saturday Sabbath, it does work out. The fact remains, that there were TWO Sabbaths in the week Yeshua was crucified, a point not taught in the 'Easter' churches.
What day should Christians celebrate the Lord's Evening Meal, what day of the week was He crucified, what does "Easter," the fertility goddess, have to do with anything? If all we really have is a "time frame," then one must assume that's enough. We know the time frame centers around the annual Jewish festival of Pesach, the Passover, Nissan 14.
In light of the fact that an element of confusion exists within the scriptural accounts, what is the reasonable Christian to do? Judge for yourself, but as for us, we pay no attention to Easter, because it's a pagan celebration of springtime renewal, and we refuse to associate the Lord's sacrifice or resurrection with a pagan tradition. When Nissan 14 rolls around next, whatever day of the week it happens to fall on by the Gregorian calendar, celebrate a remembrance to Yeshua.
As Christians we are not under the same obligations as the Jewish people, as far as our observance of the Passover goes. A full-blown Seder plate is not necessary for the Christian household, but it would be entirely up to the householder how much of the Jewish tradition they wished incorporate into a family celebration. Such as the Haggadah (Haggadah means 'the telling') which relates the story of the Hebrew Exodus. The core of the Christian celebration would seem to be a simple abridged version of a Jewish Seder (Seder means 'Order'). The wine and the matzah would suffice, as these are the two elements that represent the Lord's flesh and His blood, an observance He asked His followers to continue to do as a remembrance of Him, and by which he instituted the New Covenant. (see - covenants section under Sabbath Day).
So, within the annual time frame (all important celebrations are held annually according to God's calendar of Festivals found in Leviticus 23), gather family and friends, including children, share some unleavened bread (matzah), and a cup of kosher wine. Give thanks and praise to Yahweh, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, and drink a toast to Yeshua, the Messiah. Tell the story for the children, of what it means. Remember Yeshua's sacrifice with praise and thanksgiving as it was meant for all of us, and opens the way for our salvation.
Hippitus Hoppitus, Easter's on the way
Keeping in mind that the days of the Jewish calendar count from sunset to sunset. The sacrificing of the lambs took place on Nissan 14 (preparation day). The meal in which the lamb was eaten was on Nissan 15, after the sundown of Nissan 14. This also was the beginning of the Passover High Sabbath which can occur any day of the week. It would seem to some that Yeshua was sacrificed on Nissan 14, on the same day (preparation day) as all the lambs were being sacrificed at the Temple.
"He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." - Matthew 12:40
One must bear in mind that pagan peoples had been observing the Easter celebration of springtime renewal long before the time of Jesus. This celebration has ancient origins. As this pagan celebration was transformed by the church, adorned with Christian trappings, the resurrection of the Lord was transfigured into the ultimate pagan
should we celebrate the event of the Sacrifice or the event of the Resurrection
THE EASTER BUNNY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR SALVATION
symbol of renewal and rebirth. The fact that the Jewish Passover, which commemorated the Hebrew release from bondage in Egypt, is also a springtime festival is purely coincidental.
The word 'Easter' is used only in the King James Bible, and is used only once - Acts 12:4. All other Bible translations use the word Passover instead of Easter in this same verse. The Greek word used in this verse is 'Pascha' which is translated correctly over and over again throughout the Bible as 'Passover'.
Therefore, if the word 'Easter' is not used in the Bible, where exactly did it come from? Most Christians believe that it has its roots in paganism, where it is the name of a pagan goddess. Ishtar was a Babylonian goddess of spring and they celebrated annual springtime festivals which included decorated eggs, cakes were baked in honor of Ishtar, who may be identified as the Queen of Heaven spoken of in Jeremiah 7:18, and Jeremiah 44:17-19, 25. Then of course there were the sacred rabbits, associated with fertility. Some other versions of Ishtar's name are Eastre, Ostara, Oestra, Eostre, and Astarte.
Pesach - Passover