Mom, why don’t we celebrate Easter?
You might think that’s something my kids would ask after you read this post. But they’ve never asked me this. Read to the end to find out what my kids have asked me.
I had to study this topic in depth before I came up with an answer. I personally believe all literate and sincere Christians with a passion to seek truth should study it too before passing on traditions to kids that are not based on the Bible but on the traditions of men. The following is not to condemn anyone but to share what I have found through much prayer and study of the Bible and history.
Should Christians Celebrate Easter
The question is a valid one. This is what I would tell my kids if they ever ask me.
A long, long, long time ago the prophet Daniel wrote about a power that would speak against God and would seek to change times and laws. Some Bible translations say to change seasons or sacred festivals and laws. Not too long after Jesus went back to heaven, sure enough, a power started trying to change God’s times and laws. One of those times or seasons was Passover. This power changed it to Easter Sunday. Well, nobody can really change God’s times, but they can try to convince the world to follow their times rather than God’s times and most of the world has followed them ever since.
We don’t celebrate Easter anymore because the beast-like power in Revelation chapter 13, which is probably the same power described by Daniel as a little horn, changed the biblical celebration of Passover to Easter about 300 years after Jesus went back to Heaven.
Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament kept Passover and so did John, who wrote Revelation. Of course, they didn’t have to kill a lamb anymore because Jesus is the Lamb who took away the sins of the world. Instead they ate unleavened bread and grape juice just like Jesus taught them to at the last supper, his last Passover with the disciples.
The Bible says when we are baptized it is similar to the death and resurrection of Jesus. We die to our old selves and are a new creation in Jesus. That is how we honor Christ’s resurrection, by how we live everyday. We also remember Jesus death and resurrection during Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread as the Bible instructs us to.
Ancient letters tell us that the Christians from Smyrna, where John had lived and preached, were very upset when the church in Rome commanded them to celebrate Jesus resurrection on Easter Sunday instead of on Passover and the Feast of Unleavened bread.
They said, “We observe the exact day like John and his followers did. Those observed the fourteenth day of the Passover according to the gospel.” So they refused to change at least for awhile.
What’s the Big Deal
Why didn’t they just go with the new day so they could all get along? No big deal, right?
Here’s two reasons it was a big deal.
- It was not what the Bible taught.
- It mixed pagan practices with holy days.
The new date for celebrating Jesus resurrection was on the same date as a popular traditional holiday in their culture. They even were so bold as to keep the name Easter after the pagan goddess Eastre, the goddess of spring. This made it easier to convert the Romans and others into the new christian religion.
Jesus had warned his followers in the letters to the seven churches (aka Revelation) not to compromise with the world. In the wilderness the Israelites made a golden calf, worshipped it and called it a festival to the Lord. The Lord was not pleased even if they thought they were worshiping him. The Bible also taught it was not okay to worship God the way the nations around them worshipped their gods.
Those brave Christians in Smyrna had a choice to make. To follow the traditions of men and compromise with the world or worship God the way he had instructed in his Word. They chose the better way.
We have a choice too. It may seem hard to be different from everyone around you. But we must choose whether to worship the beast and his ways or worship God according to his ways. Very few choose the better way.
A Wide Way and a Narrow Way
The Bible says “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:13-14)
Congratulations for making it to the end of this post. This year my kids have not asked why we don’t celebrate Easter anymore, but they have asked, “Mom, when is the Feast of Tabernacles? We want to set up our tent!”
I answer, “Not for a while yet, but Passover is coming soon.”
“Is that when we get to eat unleavened bread?”
“Yes, it is.”
Note to parents: We only stopped celebrating Easter a couple years ago. I know many of you will have lots of questions about this topic if you have read this far. It was a struggle for me as I started studying God’s word more intensely and searching historical writings. Don’t let your fears, doubts or questions stop you from testing all things. 1 Thess. 5:21
Here are some additional Bible references and historical quotes. Leave a comment below if you want to start a conversation.
- Leviticus 23:5 – In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s passover.
- Leviticus 23:6 – And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.
- Luke 22:15-16 – And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
- Galatians 2:20 – I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
- Luke 22:19 – And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
- 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 – Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
- Acts 20:6 – And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.
- Exodus 32:4-7 – And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the Lord. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:
- Deuteronomy 12:30, 32 – Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
- Daniel 7:25 – And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
- Revelation 2:14-15 – But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. [These groups taught that it was okay to compromise.]
- Revelation 13:5-8 – Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months. And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and his dwelling—that is, those who dwell in heaven. And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation. And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast.
“ ‘We observe the exact day, neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles . . . and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined on the bosom of the Lord . . . and Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr . . . Those observed the fourteenth day of the Passover according to the gospel, deviating in no respect,’ but following the rule of faith’” (Anti-Nicean Fathers, vol. 8, pp.773-774).
At the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325, during the reign of Emperor Constantine, the bishops of the Catholic Church decreed concerning the Passover that: “All the brethren in the East who formerly celebrated Easter [Passover] with the Jews [the Jews never celebrated what we call “Easter”], will henceforth keep it at the SAME TIME AS THE ROMANS, with us and with all those who from ancient times have celebrated the feast at the same time with us.”
We Germans to this day call April ostermonat, and ostarmânoth is found as early as Eginhart [c. 800] ([contemporary of Charlemagne]). The great christian festival, which usually falls in April or the end of March, bears in the oldest of [Old High German] remains the name ôstarâ; it is mostly found in the plural, because two days (ôstartagâ, aostortagâ, Diut. 1, 266) were kept at Easter. This Ostrâ, like the [Anglo Saxon] Eâstre, must in the heathen religion have denoted a higher being, whose worship was so firmly rooted, that the christian teachers tolerated the name, and applied it to one of their own grandest anniversaries. Source: Jacob Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, vol. 1, 4th ed., trans. James Steven Stallybrass (George Bell and Sons, 1882), 289–291.