(Lisa Robinson)

Well, it’s that time of year, the most celebrated and revered day in Christianity.  The death, burial and resurrection of Christ commemorates the crucial event of Christianity, without which Christianity would not exist.  So it’s the time when Christians gather to reflect, resound and renew their commitment to Christ.

It’s also the time when many Christians refute the traditional symbols of Easter or even call it ‘Easter’.  For those who engage in this refutation, the rejection of identifying it as ‘Easter’ is rooted in the fact that the term ‘Easter’ was adopted from a pagan holiday.  This seems to taint the holiness and significance of the resurrection with paganism, right?  Consider what Mel Lawrenz says in this article from the Biblegateway blog in response to the question ‘Why do most Christians use the word ‘Easter’ in reference to the Resurrection day of Jesus, when that word comes from a pagan goddess?’:

First, there never has been a direct association of the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus with the pagan deity. The celebration of the day of resurrection fell on the month of Eastre (West Saxon) or Eostre (Northumbrian). So it was a time of year that was the association, the name of a month. Now that month’s name was probably (not certainly) derived from a goddess of spring. But this association is remote and that is why if you use the word “Easter” in normal speech today, people make no association with ancient pagan religion. Hundreds of millions of Christians use “Easter,” and have done so for centuries, with the meaning of “the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.”

Second, there are many words we use that have long-passed connections in pagan culture or religion, but their meaning has been changed. When we talk about going to church on ‘Sunday’ we don’t have much heartburn about the fact that this day in the Roman calendar was for the worship of the sun. The examples are everywhere. And when we pass into January we mark a new beginning with little concern that the word “January” comes from the Roman god Janus, the god of doorways. Many of the words we use have some peculiar etymology. What matters is what the words mean to us today in normal spoken language.

I agree with Lawrenz’s assessment.  There is no good reason to disassociate with the term ‘Easter’ simply because it was once associated with a pagan religion.  If we can use the term ‘Sunday’ as part of our Christian fabric, then why not Easter?  Moreover, what attachment does Easter to pagan religion in today’s terminology?

I find a similar attitude with the traditional relics of Easter, which is bunnies and eggs.  The outcry is that it undermines the significance of the resurrection.  But I find this argument misplaced as well.   For I see in scripture that God reveals himself to humanity by intersecting humanity according to their culture.  This is the essence of the incarnation – God the Son took on flesh and intervened in a point of time in history to bring eternal life through faith in Him.  He did not disassociate from relics of the culture but used them to display his glory.   He used the very ideas that people had about God, even if misplaced, to point to himself. Why?

Consider his dialogue with the woman at the well in John 4:7-26.  The Samaritan woman had an idea about God and what worship of God meant.  It meant a particular place and a particular time.  What does that have to do with bunnies and eggs, you might ask.  Because they are symbolic of a time when Christianity is celebrated.  For many, it points to the events of the Christianity though the Christ of Christianity might not be embraced.   So getting back to Jesus and the Samaritan woman, he did not rebuke her for her identification of worship but used that to point to where real worship occurred.  It seems to me, there is a connection to what can be done with bunnies and eggs.  Instead of spurning them and rebuking those who would conflate the idea of harmless artifacts with the significance of the resurrection, why not use them to highlight the resurrection?  I personally think we can do more harm by chastising the use of these artifacts than by using them to point to Christ.   It is not like the ones who incorporate bunnies and eggs into the holiday are worshiping a pagan deity, but it is a meaningless symbol that produces a lot of fun.  Why not turn it into something meaningful for the cause of Christ?

I also see that Paul does this on Mars Hill in Acts 17:16-32.  Paul did not approach the Athenian court, slashing and burning their idols for Jesus.  No, he used the very vestige of pagan thought and symbolism to point to Christ, even citing their own poetry to identify who this God is that they consider ‘unknown’. This also shows that we are willing to identify with people.  Isn’t that what Jesus did with the incarnation?

So this Easter, instead of ditching the traditional symbolism of the time, why not use it in a way that connects people to the real meaning of Easter – Jesus Christ, Him crucified buried and resurrected.  He is risen!

Edit: Here is an interesting article on the subject, Was Easter Borrowed from a Pagan Holiday.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    31 replies to "Ditch ‘Easter’, Bunnies and Eggs?"

    • John from Down Under

      Chocolate is a great way to ‘identify with people’ 🙂

    • J.J.

      Good write-up. A few years ago, I had a student who strongly objected to the term Easter and I made the same argument in response… the names of the months and days are from ancient mythology… and I also delicately added, her own name… 🙂

    • Kevin

      The two biggest days of the year for Christians (Christmas & Easter) incorporate other objects (Santa & Bunny) than Christ. Don’t you see this has a problem? Why can’t we just have Christ- how it originally was.

    • Skaggers


      I am not great with remembering scriptural naratives or scriptural apostolic instructions, so where do we find the ordinance to commemerate those days in a specific manner? If there isn’t anything, then why don’t we take Lisa’s example (Christ’s actions by the way), and do it like he did. He did speak in parables, right? Did He not use the people of the times culture there to make a point? And even then, His apostles still needed His parables to be explained/corrolated to them.

    • Kevin

      Your right Skaggers, the Canon we have does not have any specific instructions regarding the celebration of Christ’s birth or resurrection. I didn’t really mention that at first because I don’t want to be confused for a JW- I actually think celebrating Christmas (or at least the way modern Christians celebrate it), is seen as a slap in the face to God. Skaggers, I’ve heard your point over and over again, and to be honest with you I’m sick of it. I’m fine with observing a “winter holiday” that makes a story about a fat man bringing toys to kids and a “spring holiday” that tells a tale of a bunny “laying eggs” with candy in it, but not on the days we have dedicated to Christ. Granted, everyday should be dedicated to Christ, but it is clearly seen throughout early church history Christ’s resurrection was celebrated on a given day. If you think an Easter egg hunt is a segue to talk about Christ, more power to you- I just think it is silly.

    • Kevin

      Also, I understand what you are trying to do with the parable, but I don’t understand your logic and how you are applying that to Easter eggs?

    • Scott


      Many people use Easter eggs to point to Christ through symbolism (ie eggs represent new life like the new life we have in Christ) which I think is wonderful.

      Santa Claus is actually pretty similar in that he represents generosity and kindness. In fact, the Santa Claus legend came about through the life of a Christian Saint (St Nicholas of Myra).

      “He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus, whose modern name comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas. His reputation evolved among the faithful, as was common for early Christian saints.” – copied from Wikipedia which references “Saint Nikolaos of Myra, Bari, and Manhattan: Biography of a Legend” by Charles W. Jones

    • Kevin

      Scott, I’m telling you right now, the majority of those who are not Christian, laugh at those examples because they know their history well enough to know both stem from paganism. For the record I am not a “legalist” or even a “fundamentalist”…so if you want to do those things fine. But an egg to point to Christ…come on Scott lol. Anyways, I don’t want to blow up this page, so if you want to carry on the discussion just email me at [email protected].

    • cherylu


      Scott, I’m telling you right now, the majority of those who are not Christian, laugh at those examples because they know their history well enough to know both stem from paganism.

      I’m asking an honest question here. Do you have sources for this quote, multiple personal conversations or something similar? I’m really wondering about the statement you made here.

    • Kevin


      Conversations I have had in the past few years with friends- so no I can’t show you an actually quote. But the conversations range from Masons to Muslims.

    • cherylu

      Thanks for answering Kevin.

    • Kevin


      No problem…But I know we can all agree on this…Christ has risen! He reigns!

    • cherylu



    • Lou

      So, I guess any future discussions about the EVIL of Halloween are rendered moot by this post?!?!?!?

    • Thomas

      “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 2 Cor 6:16-18

      “…the pagan festival of “Easter” was quite distinct and was introduced into the apostate Western religion, as part of the attempt to adapt pagan festivals to Christianity. ” Search blueletterbible.org

      Please don’t mix God’s truth with man’s error. Jesus is my King, not the works made by hands that are of this world. I love the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob forevermore. I yearn to be in His Presence and that is only possible by the free gift of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.

    • George Jenkins

      It was “interesting” to find an article about Keeping Holy Week Holy and one supporting Easter eggs in the same email. How do Easter eggs, bunnies, etc. help to keep
      things holy?

      I agree with Kevin when he writes “I’m fine with observing a “winter holiday” that makes a story about a fat man bringing toys to kids and a “spring holiday” that tells a tale of a bunny “laying eggs” with candy in it………”. I am probably father off the chart than Kevin. I believe the only “Christian holiday” that is not infused with pagan rituals is Thanksgiving. Can you imagine Jesus visiting on day and you tell him you are going to celebrate His resurrection by looking for Easter eggs. Well not you exactly; just the kids…………..and He asks “Why are you teaching them that? How does that glorify me?”

      If you decide to have spring holiday perhaps you could add something without a pagan connotation; like a cow carrying muffins, a piggie with chocolates…..

    • Ed Kratz

      Guys, I am not advocating that we exalt bunnies and eggs or incorporate them into our Christian observation of holy week. But I am suggesting that we need not vilify them neither. As far as the connection to pagan worship, I’m wondering if you all read the post carefully, especially the excerpt from Lawrenz. What matters is what they mean today. Kids engaging in easter egg hunts aren’t engaging in pagan worship anymore than someone going to church makes them a Christian.

      I also think its interesting that we can’t get over the pagan connection, but we have no problem worshiping on Sunday. Why? Because of the tradition established by the early church that made absolutely no connection of “Sunday” to pagan worship.

      Thomas asked “how does bunnies and eggs help keep holy week holy”. The exaltation of Christ and what God did through him for us keeps holy week holy. But people that don’t know him, know traditional easter things, like bunnies and eggs…

    • Ed Kratz


      So what I am suggesting is that why not leverage the connection to point to the real source of life. That is what Paul did on Mars Hill. I would think that sharing in God’s holiness also means sharing in his mission to point people to His Son so they might put their trust in Him. And we can best share in that when we identify with people. As Paul says becoming all things to all people so that some might be saved (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

      If we want nothing to do with bunnies and eggs, that is fine too. But I have seen Christians spurn people for having anything to do with traditional pieces. Paul also writes “an idol is nothing at all in this world and there is no God but one” (1 Corinthians 8:4) Why turn people off and away by castigating something that is nothing, and by doing so disenchanting them in anything we would have to say, especially the gospel? This is what I see is far more tragic.

    • Kevin


      I would like to read an article by someone who is out to prove if Easter is borrowed from Pagan ideas. This article, like most of them, are set out to disprove it and seem not to have any problems with egg hunting. Objectivity is the key, the person who wrote this article does not have it (at least regarding this subject).

    • Kevin

      Think about it people…I mean really think about it. Did the early Christians living in Palestine in the 1st century practice what we do today regarding Christ’s resurrection? The answer is no- it had to have come from somewhere, and it certainly didn’t start with Christians.

    • Ed Kratz


      If anything, I find this article extremely objective. But the issue is not a matter of proving or disproving the connection to a pagan holiday or myths. The issue is why make an issue of it. We serve a redemptive God who can use what he will to glorify himself. I think the church that hosts easter egg hunts in the community has a far greater audience to hear the gospel than one who slaps people on the wrist for even mentioning the word ‘Easter’. Ok, that is extreme but I hope you get my point.

      Also, consider this. The cross used in Roman crucifixions is believed to be modeled after the Egyptian ankh. Now, I am sure you know that Egypt is the epitome of pagan worship. So God used a pagan government, with a pagan torture device that may have roots in a pagan, dark magic to offer the gift of his Son and eternal life. We should not get so hung up on any supposed connection to paganism because its Christ we exalt who has provided redemption for lost people.

    • Kevin

      The reason we bring it up is because hunting for rabbits eggs on the day we dedicate Christ’s victory over the grave is stupid. Look, maybe you have honestly told someone about Christ after cracking open an egg…but I feel like (from my experiences and opinion) the Bunny and eggs are more for the Christian community havin “fun” than used for “evangelism”. I just have to disagree with you about the audience and how they receive the message of Christ. Not coming from a strong Christian home, I was always confused why the bunny and Christ on the same day. But once I started to flesh out the stupid (sorry that’s just what I think it is) stuff and just focused on Christ, it became so much more to me. As for not getting caught up with the mixing of paganism and our faith- I think its clear from Scripture God doesn’t want us to mix pagan ideas with the one true faith.

    • Kevin

      I will just end it with this because I don’t want to cause confusion. If you approached me and said lets do an easter egg hunt- I would say- “That’s ok, you go ahead.” I’m not going to lecture or say you have to follow what I’m doing- that to me is going to far. I just hope for the same respect and consideration from those who do santa and bunnies, not to pressure or condemn my family for not practicing these actions. We are obviously going to disagree- so lets just leave it at that. God bless.

    • Dr Michael

      Easter bunnies, Santa Claus, and Halloween ghouls all point to Christ, therefore should be enjoyed by all? These things do not point to Christ any more than do tooth fairies or leprechauns do, and that is why millions of people around the world do these things every year and have no clue about who Christ is. It’s not a case of pagan worship today, but consumerism masking the truth about the holiday.

      And Paul would not be supportive of such nonsense. He clearly tells the Athenians “they worship in ignorance.” This would have seen as extreme arrogance with the great philosophers of the Areopagus. Also notice Paul did not join in with their ignorance and say “it points to Christ!” He called them out in a gentle way and told them the truth.

      I feel the reason that most Christians justify this silliness is because they don’t want to tell their kids “no Johnny, we aren’t going to do Santa, bunnies and ghouls this year.”

    • Ed Kratz

      Dr. Michael, I’m afraid you have missed my point and misconstrued what I have written. I did not say bunnies and eggs point to Christ. I said they could be used as a vehicle to point to Christ. That is not the same thing. I also find the reference to Halloween and Santa Clause misplaced as we are not talking about that.

      But I do think that if one has it made up in their mind that bunnies and eggs must be evil, there is not much argument there.

    • Dr Michael

      Hi Lisa. My point is not that bunnies, eggs, Satan, etc. are inherently evil. You are correct in that we should not go around castigating unbelievers who practice this thing. But my point is that they are clearly worldly fabrications that distract from the main point. Easter bunnies and eggs are popular today because everyone can partake of it without any religious overtones, effectively creating a worldy holiday in place of a religious one.

      Santa Claus has a direct reference, as it is a parallel to Easter and the bunny/eggs. Both are attempts, in modern times, to deflect the true meaning of these events and allow unbelievers to celebrate what was originally only celebrated by Christians.

      There is a huge difference in telling unbelievers about how bunnies/eggs point to Christ, versus telling Christians there is no problem raising their kids on bunnies/eggs as if that had anything to do with why we celebrate on Easter Sunday.

    • cherylu

      Dr Michael,

      I suspect that in your first sentence you mean “Santa” not “Satan”, right? 🙂

      Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. That was just quite an interesting typo!

      (By the way, my day needed a little humor. And with all the typos I tend to make, I may very well be the next one providing that humor to someone!)

    • Dr Michael

      Cherylu, too funny! Yes, I must have gotten confused since both are guys in red suits that have a bag of enticing goodies! Frudian slip? LOL.

    • George Jenkins

      A point on the issue of Sunday. There are things in my life over which, by God’s grace, I have direct control. In the past one was whether I chose to have easter egg hunts with my kids and tell them about the easter bunny. I chose not to either and I told them why.
      They have nothing to do with Jesus except take our eyes off Him for the empty excuse of “having fun”.

      Incidentally, I have had many opportunities to witness to people after telling them we did not do bunnies and eggs; just yesterday with the guy roofing my barn.

      Do I wish Constantine had changed the name from Sunday to Sonday? You bet; but since the time of Adam the lord of this world has certainly been at work and still works.

      Lisa, I had not considered the cross to be represenative of an Egyptian ank, but, to me, it is truly amazing that God would use such a pagan object, under the control of pagan rulers, to show the enmity between Him and sin. Satan thought he had won. Seems to work against your position.

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