Why I Don’t Keep Easter

The single greatest event recorded in the Bible is the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It is because of His tremendous sacrifice we have hope; because of the Almighty’s great love for us “while we were yet sinners,” we have a reason for joyful living each day.

Christians around the world will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ this Easter not realizing that all of its traditions were derived from pagan sources thousands of years before Christ.

As Christians, we must be astute in what we do and why we do it. Researching the origins of Easter, as well as Christmas, is a fascinating, albeit alarming, study of how Christian tenets have been superimposed over the abominable practices and ungodly belief systems of the ancient Babylonians.


Did you know?—

  1. The word Easter comes from the word Ishtar. Ishtar was the Babylonian fertility goddess who, along with her deity-husband Tammuz, was worshiped in springtime festivals.
  2. Ancient cultures around the world had their own names for the deity pair: Osiris and Isis, Attic and Cybele, and Adonis and Aphrodite, to name a few.
  3. According to myth, every year Tammuz, sun-god of the Sumerians and god of agriculture, dies at the beginning of the winter solstice only to be resurrected by Ishtar in the spring.
  4. Fertility and reproduction symbols were revered in these pagan cultures, hence the use of eggs, rabbits, etc.
  5. The Babylonians also represent Tammuz as a handsome shepherd who was slain by a wild boar at the age of forty. Ishtar long mourned for him and descended into the underworld to deliver him from death. This mourning for Tammuz lasted forty days, one day for each of his years (the forerunner to the forty days of Lent). Ezekiel records what God had shown him concerning this, “He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house . . . and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.” Ezekiel 8:13-14
  6. The worship of Tammuz and Ishtar eventually spread to Biblical Israel in the form of Baal and Ashtoreth (Ashtaroth, Astarte), and the queen of heaven. Judges 2:13; 1 Sam. 12:10; 1 Kings 11:5, 33; 2 Kings 23:13;  Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17–19, 25

What all these deities and their ritual worship festivals have in common is the death and resurrection theme—a forerunner to modern Easter worship.

Satan seeks to counterfeit every part of God’s plan.

He is the god of confusion.

He deceives the whole world. (Revelation 12:9)


What Did God Say?

When God instituted holy days for His people, He never used a man-made template as a starting point or allowed the unholy worship practices of other nations to be used.

He specifically forbade His people from going after other religious customs and ceremonies.


When the Lord thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee . . . take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them . . . and that inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Deuteronomy 12:28–32


Jeremiah the prophet repeatedly warned the Israelites about their idolatrous practices, among these the worship of the queen of heaven (Ishtar, Ashtoreth), but they refused to heed. (Jeremiah 44:17–19)

God spoke to Jeremiah saying,


Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?

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 provoke me to anger. Jeremiah 7:18


These cakes are the precursor to “hot cross buns” of modern Easter lore.

The sunrise service is a common Easter practice. Does God have something to say about this?


Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.

And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house . . . and, behold . . . between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. Ezekiel 8:15–16



Is God still honored when we decide to change the meaning of something that He pronounced abominable?


If something is abominable to God, how can we dress it up as something else (e.g. Christ worship) and expect God to be pleased?



And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?

2 Corinthians 6:15–16


Easter dates back thousands of years before Christ. Learn about the pagan origins of this holiday and the biblical way we can worship Christ instead. #easter, #paganholiday, #worship, #Christ, #seekingtruth


Easter was not celebrated by the early Christians

Since Easter was not celebrated by early Christians, how did these pagan practices become acceptable to the later church?

There are reams of information on how Easter came to be instituted, which is beyond the scope of this post, but the simple answer is greed.

Several decades after the death of the apostles, the church at Rome became dominant and more interested in its political and financial power than adhering to the true doctrines of Christ. Determined to bring the masses of pagans into the church, Orthodox leaders took measures to get Christian and pagan festivals amalgamated.

But this created a great rift within the church leadership; many refused to follow along.

In AD 197, Polycrates, the bishop of Ephesus and representative of the Asian churches, addressed a letter to Victor, the bishop of Rome, saying, “we observe the exact day [of Passover]; neither adding or taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep; which shall rise again in the day of the Lord’s coming, when He shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles . . . and John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined on the bosom of the Lord . . . and Polycarp of Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr . . . All these observed the fourteenth day of Passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith.” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book V)

But standing up against the religious powers within the “Church” proved difficult. He was later excommunicated.

Finally, in the fourth century, the Roman emperor Constantine, in part to rid the church of Jewish influence, decreed that Easter Sunday take the place of Passover.

Many faithful Christians were unwilling to accept the unbiblical Roman decree, and eventually, Theodosius, a later Roman Emperor, ordered the death penalty for those who refused.



Come out from among them

To keep oneself unspotted from the world is an arduous task. To row against the tide of commonly-held “Christian” beliefs equally so.

We are God’s peculiar treasure (Psalm 135:4). We are to heed His call to “come out from among them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing” (2 Corinthians 6:17).


Nowhere in the New Testament does God command us to worship the resurrection of His Son, but the night before Christ became our Passover Lamb, He did ask us to commemorate His death.


And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, this is my body which is given unto you: this do in remembrance of me.

Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. Luke 22:19–20



The bread and the wine.


Paul later expounded upon this in 1 Cor. 11:26, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” 

Whether this means every day or an annual event, we Christians look forward to His return when we do this as a memorial to Him. 

For Christ said—

. . . this do in remembrance of me.



Abiding in the Vine,

~ Gleniece


The post “Why I Don’t Keep Easter” was first published on Desert Rain.

You can learn the eye-opening origins behind Christmas, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day here.

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About Gleniece

Writer at Desert Rain. Editor at Desert Rain Editing.
Happy wife, morning tea and Bible study-er, evening wine and chocolate lover. Ever thankful for the gift that is Christ.


  1. Lori @ Frog's Lilypad says

    Hi, Gleniece. Thank you for sharing all of this history. I knew Easter and Christmas both had pagan backgrounds, there is so much in the Bible that talks about staying away from the pagan style of worship. Sadly the church as a whole has taken their eyes off the real reason for these holidays. Thank you for sharing your heart with Thankful Thursdays.

    • Gleniece says

      You’re welcome, Lori. As God’s peculiar people we should never just ‘go along’ with the world’s traditions, but always ask questions and be prepared to make a stand for the truth.
      Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Lori, and for hosting Thankful Thursdays.

    • Gleniece says

      What a sweet comment, Brenda. Thank you.
      Yes, iron sharpens iron, doesn’t it? I, too, have the same hope.
      Thank you for visiting. May your day be blessed as well.

  2. Shannon @ Of The Hearth says

    Thanks for sharing these insights!
    Thus far, we have chosen not to integrate secular traditions (Easter eggs, Easter bunny, etc.) into our celebration of Resurrection Sunday. I’ve never felt quite comfortable with these, so we stick to attending church, reflecting on the meaning of the day, and sharing a family meal together. I’m glad to see that so many people are thinking critically about the significance of Easter and how we celebrate it!

    • Gleniece says

      Thank you, Shannon. I love hearing your thoughts on this subject.
      What Christ has done for us should not be defiled by what man has devised. Even the Puritans and Pilgrims who landed on our shores refused to celebrate Christmas and Easter knowing they were pagan in origin and inventions of man.
      Shannon, thanks for stopping by. Have a wonderful day.

  3. Deborah says

    Wise words here dear sister in Christ. No man can ever make a day holy, can he? What a blessing it is to have 365 days a year to be immeasurably thankful that our Savior has indeed risen.

    • Gleniece says

      So true, Deborah. I thank you for your encouragement from one sister in Christ to another. Speaking truth doesn’t always make many friends, does it? But it will be worth it to hear those joy-filled words–“well done, thou good and faithful servant”.
      Thank you again for visiting. Have a beautiful evening.

  4. Kelly @RaisingSamuels says

    Thank you for sharing this history and scriptures with #SocialButterflySunday! It is amazing the things that we discover by learning history. Hope to see you link up again this week 🙂

  5. Dawn Boyer says

    I am always intrigued by history and tradition and the why of how things get started. I was reading another piece today bout the history of Easter and how the traditions of the pagan holiday was seen as an opportune way, by the church Fathers, to reach out to those who had yet to inherit the gift of salvation. And the numbers of those added to the church rose exponentially because of the efforts of those to point to God.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Gleniece says

      Hello, Dawn. Thank you for stopping by tonight.
      While there may have been some who came to Christ through false beginnings, (we all have our start somewhere, don’t we?), they would have had to divest themselves of the falsehoods in order to find true salvation. There were masses of people added to the church, true, but calling oneself a Christian and living like one are very different things. Otherwise, Christ would have not said, “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matt. 22:14
      Thank you again, Dawn. I really appreciate your thoughtful comment.

  6. MaryHill says

    Hi, thanks for your thoughtful post. I know many people have problems with the tie to Paganism and the holidays. I believe like Paul, while all things may not necessarily beneficial, not all things are sin. I really believe that we need to teach our children the true meaning behind the holidays: Jesus Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. I hate that the retail industry has tried to transform yet another holiday into a materialistic celebration where we give our kids Easter baskets now filled with toys.

    • Gleniece says

      Hello, Mary. So glad to see you here. Yes, the irreverence is astonishing, isn’t it? Christ’s sacrifice isn’t something to mix with the world’s trivia.
      Thanks for your comment. Have a great day, friend.

  7. Linda W Perkins says

    I love how you’ve filled in all the details of the pagan traditions surrounding Easter. Even though I celebrate Holy Week and our Lord’s resurrection on Easter, I am increasingly disturbed by churches who are bringing the secular traditions into the church. I don’t want to go to worship services to meet the Easter Bunny, hunt for eggs, or dress up in silly EB-themed outfits at a photo booth! What Jesus did for us on the cross deserves reverence. I think your reminder that communion is enough really brings it home. Thank you and I invite you to read and comment on my post about Jesus and the Giant Easter Bunny too! God bless you during this Holy Week.

    • Gleniece says

      Hello, Linda. So glad to meet you! It’s true that there’s not much difference between what the Roman church leaders did centuries ago and what is happening in Christian churches now.
      Christ even said in Matthew 15:9, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the traditions of men.”
      Thank you for commenting, Linda. (I actually read your post yesterday between homeschooling and dinner, but didn’t leave a comment. Sorry. Heading over there now.:-))
      I hope your day is blessed.

  8. bluecottonmemory says

    Just as the study of etymology of words intrigue me, so, too, does the history of traditions. Thank you for sharing the history of Easter traditions. I try not to get too hooked up in the traditional activities, but keep focused on the heart of the this week – that our Savior died for us so that we could be with the Father. Praying God’s Shalom on your week!

    • Gleniece says

      You are welcome, Maryleigh. I thank you for your kind words.
      Yes, what a magnificent gift Christ offered us so we may have TRUE life in His coming kingdom.
      Have a wonderful evening.:-)

  9. Janis@Heart-Filled Moments says

    While I know the pagan origins of these holidays, I believe the church eventually thought it was best to turn the pagans away from their ungodly practices and replace them with Holy Days that would be linked to Christ.
    In celebrating Easter and Christmas, it is clear that we are remembering the crux of our faith–that Jesus was born of a virgin, was both God and man, and was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. To celebrate His death and Resurrection remind us each year of the price God was willing to pay to make us righteous through the blood of Jesus.
    Holy Thursday can be interpreted to be a commemoration of the Passover. But on this point, I agree that it would be meaningful for the Christian Church to remember the significance of the Passover but only from the standpoint of how it foreshadowed the coming of Christ–the fulfillment of the Passover.

    • Gleniece says

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Janis.
      To be clear: I am not Jewish, nor do I believe in keeping the Old Testament holy days for salvation, for Christ is the fulfillment of the Law.
      I believe we need to worship God as He asked us to ‘in spirit and truth’, not in the man-made traditions of paganism.
      We, His people, are all at different levels of growth. As God gives us knowledge through His word and through His Spirit, we honor and respect Him by acting upon that knowledge with obedience–even if, especially if, it goes against what everybody else is doing.
      “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12:2)
      Thank you, again, Janis. I appreciate you reaching out and hope your day is blessed, too.


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