Easter is a festival and holiday celebrated by millions of people around the world who honor the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred three days after his crucifixion at Calvary. It is also the day that children excitedly wait for the Easter bunny to arrive and deliver their treats of chocolate eggs.
Easter is a ‘movable feast’ which is chosen to correspond with the first Sunday following the full moon after the March equinox and occurs on different dates around the world since western churches use the Gregorian calendar, while eastern churches use the Julian calendar.
Christian’s today celebrate Easter Sunday as the resurrection of Jesus. Image source.
Most historians, including Biblical scholars, agree that Easter was originally a pagan festival. According to the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary: “The word Easter is of Saxon origin, Eastra, the goddess of spring, in whose honour sacrifices were offered about Passover time each year. By the eighth century Anglo–Saxons had adopted the name to designate the celebration of Christ’s resurrection.” However, even among those who maintain that Easter has pagan roots, there is some disagreement over which pagan tradition the festival emerged from. Here we will explore some of those perspectives.