Is Easter Based on Paganism?

It seems like every time Christians celebrate something, there are always people who try and point out how that celebration is something different. We looked at how people have tried to do this with Christmas a while back, and similar attempts have been made with Easter.

It’s important to remember that simply stating that Easter ripped off some earlier pagan celebration isn’t actually enough to make an argument, even though that’s usually all that is said. In order for it to be an argument, you would have to show direct links from how Christians celebrate Easter to whatever pagan festival supposedly predated it and show that what Christians are doing runs counter to Christianity. It’s a tall order, and it’s very rarely done on any of these sort of “gotcha” statements.

A lot of the discussion about the resurrection of Jesus (the whole point of Easter) was touched on when we dealt with the topic specifically here. That largely leaves the assertion that Easter is somehow based on the celebration of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar.

The weird thing about this one is that, to my knowledge, there never has been a formal celebration of Ishtar. Since she was the goddess of fertility, perhaps you could attempt to make the connection to Easter eggs as being a roundabout celebration of her, but the whole Easter eggs/bunny thing has nothing to do with how Christians celebrate Easter. Our celebration is centered on the resurrection of Jesus, whereas that bunny guy became a good marketing holiday in America. The only other connection that I’ve heard is that the name Easter is similar to the name Ishtar. This is true, but it doesn’t prove anything, nor is it an argument for anything. This is grasping at straws, but let’s suppose that the word Easter did come from the word Ishtar. Would this mean anything? Not really.

This is a logical fallacy known as the genetic fallacy, which says that something is wrong/irrelevant/bad due to its origin. It’s faulty logic because it doesn’t deal with a claim itself, but says that it should be discarded due to its origins. To use a more humorously obvious example, here is a helpful picture.

Obviously, drinking water doesn’t make you a Nazi, or in support of anything Hitler did. In the same way, even if the word Easter was of pagan origin, it doesn’t mean anything. Personally, I think this is merely a means of deflecting from having to deal with the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, and we have good reasons for believing that He did so (discussed here).

So let’s put that “argument” to rest, and move on to the celebration of our Savior!

– Jesse