Bible Dictionary: Easter

by: Guy Templeton

March 28, 2013

Eostre, The Norse Goddess exchanges eggs with a hare. Is this where we get easter bunnies and eggs from?

With Easter coming up on Sunday, I thought it would be interesting to review the entry from the Bible Dictionary.

Easter

This word occurs only once in the Bible (Acts 12:4) and then would be better translated “Passover.” The word Easter is from Eastre, a Norse goddess whose pagan festival was observed at the spring equinox. The association of this pagan goddess with the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was only by adaptation and synthesis. There is no real connection. Jesus, being the Lamb of God, was crucified at Passover time and is the true Passover (see1 Cor. 5:7). He was raised from the grave on the third day thereafter. It thus became a springtime anniversary and has come to be called Easter in the Christian world.

Is anybody else surprised that the Bible Dictionary includes information about a Norse goddess, and that Christians have adapted Easter for their own purposes?

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17 Responses to Bible Dictionary: Easter

  1. Jeff Spector on March 28, 2013 at 7:01 AM

    Christians have been very adaptable over the years. God,in the OT attempted to change the people’s practices, as did Jesus. Later Christian leaders just adapted certain pagan holidays and practices to meet their needs.

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  2. Chase O on March 28, 2013 at 7:25 AM

    My favorite part about this is the Politically Correct crowd trying to oust words like Easter Bunny, and Easter eggs out schools and public events, because of its would be offensive to people of a non-christian religion. Really! because eggs, bunnies and menstrual… I mean lunar cycles have so much to do with Christianity.

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  3. MH on March 28, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    I guess I am quite surprised at how freely the Bible Dictionary confirms that this is a pagan holiday. Is that why Mormons (like Jehovah’s Witnesses) don’t encourage Easter celebrations? I mean I just find Mormon Easter services incredibly dull.

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  4. MH on March 28, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    In fact, I will be attending a nephew’s missionary service this Sunday. I’d be surprised if there is anything more than a passing reference to Easter in Sacrament meeting. It will be pretty much a typical Sunday service, rather than a remembrance of the most important even in Christian history.

    I just don’t understand Mormons’ lack of reverence for the Easter holiday.

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  5. Over the hill on March 28, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    MH — I agree with you 100% . Last year there was almost no mention of Easter. In fact, when I complained that the hymn Christ The Lord Is Risen Today was not scheduled (I get the hymns in advance) I was told that it would be sung the following week when the meeting topic would be on the Atonement.
    Huh? I don’t remember the topic for Easter, but I do remember that the following week the Atonement was barely mentioned. Sad, sad.
    I live in a large ward, the largest in a large Stake, but our choir will not be singing on Easter this year — which is actually a blessing!

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  6. Jeff Spector on March 28, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    I guess you don’t know there was a specific 1st Presidency letter asking the local leaders to insure there was a Worship service where the Savior, His Resurrection and Atonement was discussed over the Pulpit this Sunday.

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  7. mh on March 28, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    Jeff, past Sunday I was at a different nephews farewell, and I didn’t hear any announcement. The theme was missionary work and the plan of salvation.

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  8. Over the hill on March 28, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    I have been in every Sacrament meeting this year, and not distracted, and that announcement has not been read in my ward.

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  9. Over the hill on March 28, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    However, perhaps the announcement was only for the leaders’ eyes and not to be read to the congregation, although it would have been very beneficial for all of us to be reminded that the Savior should be the focus of most, if not all, of our meetings.

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  10. chase o on March 28, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    I’m the clerk in my ward and we got the letter, we didn’t read it over the pulpit though.

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  11. Jeff Spector on March 28, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    Here is the text of the letter:

    Dear Brethren and Sisters:

    Commemorating Easter Sunday With gratitude to our Heavenly Father, we look forward to Easter Sunday as an opportunity to reflect upon the life, Atonement, and Resurrection of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

    In preparation for Easter Sunday, we again encourage bishoprics and branch
    presidencies to plan sacrament meeting music and· speakers that teach and commemorate
    the Resurrection. Without planning any additional meetings or activities, teachers and leaders may also use Sunday classes and meetings, such as a combined priesthood and
    Relief Society meeting, to further discuss the glorious blessings of the Savior’s
    Atonement.

    We testify of the living reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and pray that individuals
    and families across the world will seek to strengthen their love for and commitment to
    Him.

    The First Presidency

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  12. MH on March 28, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    I heartily endorse the message. It’s too bad that some bishops are sitting on it. I wonder why it’s getting mostly ignored in my nephew’s ward….

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  13. Jeff Spector on March 29, 2013 at 6:41 AM

    How do you know it is ignored when it hasn’t happened yet?

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  14. mh on March 29, 2013 at 7:06 AM

    You could be right Jeff. My nephews grandfather died Tuesday and his funeral is Saturday. Because of that, he may feel the need to talk about the resurrection. Maybe it will be Easter themed after all. But without the death my money says the theme would be missionary work.

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  15. Jeff Spector on March 29, 2013 at 7:18 AM

    When we have a missionary farewell, the Bishopric assigns them a topic to speak on that typically isn’t missionary work. Even when they return, they are given a topic but asked to speak about their mission experience.

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  16. Douglas on March 29, 2013 at 1:38 PM

    MH, I agree that at times the Sacrament services can be a tad tedious. Still, it’s not an expectation that I be entertained at Church. I’ve yet to leave a three-hour block saying, “gee, that was a waste of time!”
    Methinks the secularization of Easter (wabbits, egg, candy, a new frock and bonnet…) have superseded the “reason for the season.” Now, if we wanted to be technical, we’d celebrate the Lord’s resurrection every April 6. But do we have to commemorate it but once a year? Methinks offering up the “broken heart and contrite spirit” is the best way, and that needs no holiday.

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  17. DB on April 2, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    “I guess I am quite surprised at how freely the Bible Dictionary confirms that this is a pagan holiday. Is that why Mormons (like Jehovah’s Witnesses) don’t encourage Easter celebrations? I mean I just find Mormon Easter services incredibly dull.”

    No, it’s because Mormon services are incredibly dull and most mormons feel it’s more important to follow precedent than to seek creative inspiration. Sad, really.

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