Friday, April 10, 2009


Well today is Good Friday, the start of the Easter events of the Crucifixion and resection of Jesus Christ. Now some may well ask: ”Isn’t Easter a pagan rather than a Christian holiday, as shown by its very name by the fact that its date is determined by the full moon after the Spring equinox?”
A good question that Jim Akin, has answered already, with: “- Anyone making this charge shows a total lack of comprehension of global Christianity. In fact, only a person speaking English or German could even possibly make this charge. First, let’s deal with the date. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon following March 21 (historically, the Spring equinox). The reason, however, has nothing to do with paganism. It has everything to do with Judaism and with Christ’s Resurrection.
Christ was resurrected on Sunday — the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1) — thus since the First Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 all Christians have celebrated his Resurrection on Sunday.
Prior to that, most celebrated it on Sunday, but some, known as Quartodecimians (”Fourteenth-ers”) celebrated it on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan, when Passover occurred.
At First Nicaea, all Christians agreed to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ on first Sunday after 14 Nisan because that was the day Christ was Resurrected in the first century — the Sunday after Passover.
Because first century Jews used a lunar calendar, every month was twenty-eight days long, beginning with the new moon and having the full moon on the 14th of the month. Nisan, being the month in which the Spring equinox occurred, always had Passover — the 14th of Nisan — falling on the first full moon on or after the Spring equinox.
Thus since Passover was always on or after the first full moon after the Spring equinox, and since the Resurrection was the first Sunday after Passover, Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21 (historically, the Spring equinox). There is nothing about a pagan lunar celebration in here. It has nothing to do with paganism, but everything to do with the Resurrection of Christ in its Jewish-Passover context.
Now let us deal with the name of Easter. The fact is that there are only two languages in which the name has any pagan associations whatsoever – English and German. This, of course, is a problem for King James Only-ites, since the term “Easter” appears in the King James Version in Acts 12:4 as a translation for the Jewish holiday of Passover. In English, of course, the name is “Easter” and in German “Ostern.” These are related in name to a pagan spring festival, whose name, if you check a dictionary, was derived from the prehistoric West Germanic word akin to the Old English term east, which means, simply enough, “east,” the direction of the rising sun.
It has nothing to do, contrary to what you will hear from some anti-Easter-ites, with the goddess Ishtar. But in virtually every language except English and German, the name of Easter is derived from the Jewish word Pesach or “Passover.”
Thus in Greek, the term for Easter is Pascha, in Latin the term is also Pascha. From there it passed into the Romance languages, and so in Spanish it is Pascua, in Italian it is Pasqua, in French it is Paques, and in Portugese it is Pascoa. It also passed into the non-Romance languages, such as the Germanic languages Dutch, where it is Pasen and Danish, where it is Paaske.
Thus only in the highly Protestant countries of Germany (where the Reformation started) and England (where the intense persecution and martyrdom of Catholics was the harshest), does the term “Easter” have any pagan associations at all. So perhaps in these two Protestant countries paganism was not sufficiently stamped out to use the Judeo-Christian term for the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection that was used everywhere else in Europe.”
Well I hope the above, taken off the Net, enlightens you a little about Easter and again puts the emphasis back on Christ himself and not just on the festival around the Christ event.
Have a blessed Easter: Walter

1 comment:

Mockingbird said...

You wrote in your post:

"Because first century Jews used a lunar calendar, every month was twenty-eight days long, beginning with the new moon and having the full moon on the 14th of the month."

Not quite. A month of the moon's phases is twenty-nine and a half days long, so a lunar calendar--such as the Hebrew Calendar--that tracks the moon's phases will have 30-day and 29-day months, not 28-day months. If the first day is defined by the visibility of the new waxing crescent, as the ancient Babylonian (and probably the 1st century Jewish) calendar defined it, then the full moon will, as you say, occur around the 14th day. The Gregorian lunar calendar, used to determine Easter, attempts to approximate this scheme at the present day, though it is based on averages, not on the actual visibility of the new crescent.

In a calendar that begins its lunar months on the day of the lunar conjunction, however, as the present-day Chinese lunar calendar does, and, with some qualifications, the present-day Hebrew calendar does, the full moon will tend to be closer to the 15th of the month. So, for example, today, Thursday, April 9th, 2009, was the 13th day of the moon by the Gregorian lunar calendar, but the 15th day of Nisan (the 1st day of Unleaened Bread, popularly called "Passover") by the modern Hebrew calendar. This situation often occurs, when the Gregorian lunar calendar is a day or two behind the Hebrew calendar. So just because a calendar is a calendar of lunations doesn't mean that the full moon is associated with the 14th day. But it does mean that most of its months will need to have more than twenty-eight days.