Pagan Sun Worship and Catholicism
Celebrating the Risen Sun.
Every Spring, thousands of Christians get up very early in the morning to attend special sunrise services in celebration of the resurrection on "Easter" morning. Have you ever wondered about the origin of the word Easter? Believe it or not, it actually can be found in the King James Bible-
Acts 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
The word in the Greek translated as Easter is pasha which Strong's defines as follows-
3957. pascha, pas'-khah; of Chald. or. [comp. H6453]; the Passover (the meal, the day, the festival or the special sacrifices connected with it): --Easter, Passover.
Pascha is most commonly translated as Passover, and of the 29 times this word appears in the New Testament, only on this one occasion is it translated as Easter. Today Easter is by far the most commonly used term for the day of the resurrection, but would the disciples have recognized the term and used it in connection with the resurrection of Christ? Just where does the word Easter originate from?-
The origin of Easter
The English word Easter and the German Ostern come from a common origin (Eostur, Eastur, Ostara, Ostar), which to the Norsemen meant the season of the rising (growing) sun, the season of new birth. The word was used by our ancestors to designate the Feast of New Life in the spring. The same root is found in the name for the place where the sun rises (East, Ost). The word Easter, then, originally meant the celebration of the spring sun, which had its birth in the East and brought new life upon earth. This symbolism was transferred to the supernatural meaning of our Easter, to the new life of the Risen Christ, the eternal and uncreated Light. Based on a passage in the writings of Saint Bede the Venerable (735), the term Easter has often been explained as the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess (Eostre), though no such goddess is known in the mythologies of any Germanic tribe. Modern research has made it quite clear that Saint Bede erroneously interpreted the name of the season as that of a goddess.
Source: Francis X. Weiser, Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1958), p. 211. Copyright 1952 by Francis X. Weiser.
Source: The Rev. William L. Gildea, D. D., THE CATHOLIC WORLD, Vol. LVIII (58), Oct., 1893 to Mar., 1894, pgs. 808-813.
Now, the Church uses three names to designate the Easter day and season; one an English name, one a Latin name, and one a Hebrew name—Easter, Resurrectio, Phase. Some have never thought it worth while to inquire why this season is called Easter-tide.
Just add the letter "N" to the word, make it "Eastern ," and we have the solution. Some, indeed, derive from "Eastre" the Goddess of Dawn; this season being dedicated to that goddess in pagan, Anglo-Saxon days. But these have only pursued the inquiry half-way. Why was the Goddess of Dawn called Eastre? Because the dawn of day is in the East—Morgenland—as the musical, mystical Germans call it—morningland.
The Church took the pagan philosophy and made it the buckler of faith against the heathen. She took the pagan Roman Pantheon, temple of all the gods, and made it sacred to all the martyrs; so it stands to this day. She took the pagan Sunday and made it the Christian Sunday. She took the pagan Easter and made it the feast we celebrate during this season.
Sunday and Easter day are, if we consider their derivation, much the same. In truth, all Sundays are Sundays only because they are a weekly, partial recurrence of Easter day. The pagan Sunday was, in a manner, an unconscious preparation for Easter day. The Sun was a foremost god with heathendom. Balder the Beautiful, the White God, the old Scandinavians called him. The Sun has worshipers at this hour in Persia and other lands. ... There is, in truth, something royal, kingly about the Sun, making it a fit emblem of Jesus, the Sun of Justice. Hence, the Church, in these countries, would seem to have said, "Keep that old pagan name. It shall remain consecrated, sanctified." And thus, the pagan Sunday, dedicated to Balder, became the Christian Sunday, sacred to Jesus. The Sun is a fitting emblem of Jesus. The Fathers often compared Jesus to the Sun; as they compared Mary to the Moon, the beautiful Moon, the beautiful Mary, shedding her mild, beneficent light on the darkness and night of this world—not light of her own; no Catholic says this; but—light reflected from the Sun, Jesus.
What means the term Easter itself? It is not a Christian name. It bears the Chaldean origin on its very forehead. Easter is nothing else than Astarte, one of the titles of Beltis, the queen of heaven, whose name, as pronounced by the people of Ninevah, was evidently identical with that now in common use in this country. That name, as found by Layard on the Assyrian monuments is Ishtar.
Source: The Two Babylons, by the Rev. Alexander Hislop, published 1943 and 1959 in the U.S. by Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, New Jersey, page 103.
The word Easter, which comes from the Anglo-Saxon, is a term derived from the pagan goddess of the dawn.
Source: The Catholic Encyclopedia, Revised and Updated, Copyright 1987, Robert C. Broderick, Editor, Thomas Nelson Publishers, page 177.
So, there is no doubt that the word Easter is not Christian, but pagan in origin. Now as to the date itself, anyone who has studied the Bible knows that the crucifixion and resurrection happen during the Jewish festival of the Passover, which began on the 14th of Nisan. For millennia the Jews have observed this festival week of Passover / Feast of Unleaven Bread beginning on the 14th of Nisan. Since Jesus died on the 14th of Nisan, then the resurrection happened on the 16th of Nisan.
Ever notice how your birthday falls on different days of the week, from one year to the next? One year it might be on a Monday and the next on a Wednesday. Such is the case with Passover. That being true, then why is the resurrection day always celebrated on a Sunday? Each year, if you were to follow the Bible, it should fall on a different day of the week and only occasionally on a Sunday. In the early church this issue caused quite a controversy-
Easter not appointed by the Apostles
[p. 130] The aim of the apostles was not to appoint festival days, but to teach a righteous life and piety. And it seems to me that just as many other customs have been established in individual localities according to usage. So also the feast of Easter came to be observed in each place according to the individual peculiarities of the peoples inasmuch as none of the apostles legislated on the matter. And that the observance originated not by legislation, but as a custom the facts themselves indicate. In Asia Minor most people kept the fourteenth day of the moon, disregarding the sabbath: yet they never separated from those who did otherwise, until Victor, bishop of Rome, influenced by too ardent a zeal, fulminated a sentence of ex-communication against the Quartodecimans in Asia… [p. 131] The Quartodecimans affirm that the observance of the fourteenth day was delivered to them by the apostle John: while the Romans and those in the Western parts assure us that their usage originated with the apostles Peter and Paul. Neither of these parties however can produce any written testimony in confirmation of what they assert.
Source: Socrates Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History, bk. 5, chap. 22, trans. in NPNF, 2d series, Vol. 2, pp. 130, 131.
The Quartodecimans excommunicated
[p. 211] It is probable that the primitive Christians kept the Pasch on the [p. 212] 14th of Nisan as determined by the Jewish authorities, and regarded it as the anniversary of the crucifixion. But they also observed the first of every seven days, the Jewish week, as a holy day in commemoration of the resurrection. It would seem that gradually a shifting of emphasis took place until in the second century it was generally accepted that the great annual solemnity of the Pasch was the commemoration not of the crucifixion but of the resurrection. Accordingly the majority of Christians celebrated the Pasch not on the 14th of Nisan but on the Sunday which fell on, or first after, that date. The churches of the Roman province of Asia, however, followed the older custom, keeping the Pasch on the 14th of Nisan, whatever the day of the week. The controversy became acute towards the end of the second century, and the observants of the 14th of Nisan, hence called Quartodecimans [Fourteenthers], were finally excommunicated.
Source: James F. Kenney, The Sources for the Early History of Ireland, Vol. 1, pp. 211, 212. Copyright 1929 by Columbia University Press, New York.
Emperor Constantine I: On the Keeping of Easter online at the Medieval Source Book.
So the church of Rome, which was keeping Sunday, excommunicated those who observed the 14th of Nisan. To try and settle the issue, the Council of Nicaea convened by Emporer Constantine in 325, decreed that the resurrection should be observed, and that on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox (March 21). This places the earliest possible date as March 22, and the latest at April 25th. This formula is completely unbiblical! Following the Jewish lunar calendar, as specified in the Bible and previously mentioned, the date would fall on a different day of the week every year, that would coincide very closely with a full moon every single time (14 Nisan being the middle of the lunar month). The date that Christianity observes however, as one of the most holiest of the year, is not even recognized by God in scripture! It has its origin in nothing more than paganism and the decrees or Tradition of the Roman Catholic Church! In fact, should the Jewish Passover and Easter just happen to coincide on the same Sunday, the Council of Nicaea decreed that the church of Rome would observe Easter on the following Sunday, so as to distance themselves from the practice of the Jews as much as possible.
The Tomb empty at sunrise
One might respond, oh, but the Lord was risen on a Sunday and that is why we keep it so. That sounds fine, but where does the Bible anywhere proclaim Sunday as a day to be observed for its holiness? And what of the sunrise service on this unbiblical day of Easter Sunday? -
John 20:1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
The Bible tells us the tomb was empty before sunrise! The resurrection had already occurred, perhaps hours before. Yet thousands of people gather each year, facing East, to the rising of the Sun, as an integral part of their resurrection service, as a pagan sunworshipper would. Now clearly these people are not consciously worshipping the Sun, yet their actions would be indistinguishable from a pagan, were one present at the same time. They both would be rejoicing at the moment of the rising of the Sun.
The Vernal Equinox
The pagan at this time of year would be celebrating the increasing of the Sun following the spring (vernal) equinox. That is the day on which the amount of darkness and daylight are the same in duration. Following that day the amount of daylight would steadily increase, a little each day. This increase of daylight in the spring brings about summer and makes crops thrive, thus the association with fertility (eggs, rabbits, chickens). Hence the association always to Sunday, to celebrate the increasing of the God of the Sun on the Sun Day.
One might respond with- well, yes this is all true, but we have "baptized" this admittedly pagan day and made it holy to God, so there is really no problem. Please note the following-
Exo 32:4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
Exo 32:5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.
Exo 32:6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
Aaron made a pagan golden calf, and then declared a festival to the Lord! The people brought offerings, had plenty to eat and drink, and made merry in celebration. Was God pleased by all this? Better yet, was God pleased by any of this? NO! Their feast was an abomination before the Lord. (Moses ground up the golden idol to powder and made the people drink it, Exo 32:20.) Today many of God's professed people turn themselves East to the rising Sun, on a Pagan Sun Day that has no biblical foundation what-so-ever, have Easter egg hunts, baskets full of candy, and sumptuous meals (usually including a ham, a biblically unclean and forbidden food) and call it a festival to the risen Lord. Just what do you think Moses would have to say to us today about all of this? Can you picture Moses joining in the fun and festivities? Aaron maybe, Moses... I think not.
So in conclusion, it should now be quite plain that the day of the year celebrated by Christianity as "Easter" is based only on nothing more than Sun worshipping paganism and unbiblical decrees of the Roman Catholic Church. Why then, does the "Bible Only" Protestant Christian observe it at all? Is this not a contradiction between profession and practice of truly monumental, ... nay, stupifying proportions? Indeed, I believe it is. Despite their good intentions, and mostly in ignorance, they are in fact celebrating the risen Sun, not the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Blessing of the New Fire
Easter Vigil, called by St. Augustine the "Mother of All Vigils, " [occurs] the night before Easter. Ceremonies: blessing of new fire, procession with the Easter Candle, ...
Source: A Concise Guide to the Catholic Church, by Felician A. Foy, O.F.M. and Rose M. Avato, Copyright 1984 and published by Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, Indiana, 46750.
1. The Service of Light
No lights are on in the church; a fire is prepared outside the church or, if not possible, inside the vestibule. After greeting the congregation the priest blesses the new fire, symbolic of Christ's Resurrection, coming forth from the tomb and giving light to the world. On the Paschal Candle the priest traces a cross and the numerals of the current year. Finally the priest lights the candle from the new fire and the deacon or, if there is no deacon, the priest lifts the Paschal candle and sings Christ is our Light.
After walking halfway into the church, he sings the same acclamation, after which the people light their candles from the Easter Candle. Upon arriving at the altar, the acclamation is sung the third time and the lights in the church are put on. Immediately thereafter follows the Exsultet, the Easter Proclamation, sung while all stand and hold lighted candles. It honors the night on which Christ redeemed us.
Source: The Dictionary of the Liturgy, by Rev. Jovian P. Lang, OFM, published by Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, copyright 1989, page 173.
The Ceremony of the Holy Light in Jerusalem.
So what exactly, is the real relationship between lighting a "new fire" on the evening before Easter Sunday, and then using it to light candles?
SECTION V. --- LAMPS AND WAX-CANDLES.
Another peculiarity of the Papal worship is the use of lamps and wax-candles. If the Madonna and child are set up in a niche, they must have a lamp to burn before them; if mass is to be celebrated, though in broad daylight, there must be wax-candles lighted on the altar; if a grand procession is to be formed, it cannot be thorough and complete without without lighted tapers to grace the goodly show. The use of these lamps and tapers comes from the same source as all the rest of the Papal superstition. That which caused the "Heart," when it became an emblem of the incarnate Son [Bel / Tammuz], to be represented as a heart on fire, required also that burning lamps and lighted candles should form a part of the worship of that Son; for so, according to the established rites of Zoroaster, was the sun-god worshipped. When every Egyptian on the same night was required to light a lamp before his house in the open air, this was an act of homage to the sun, that had veiled its glory by enshrouding itself in a human form. When the Yezidis of Koordistan, at this day, once a year celebrate their festival of "burning lamps," that, too, is to the honor of Sheikh Shems, or the Sun. Now, what on these high occasions was done on a grand scale was also done on a smaller scale, in the individual acts of worship to their god, by the lighting of lamps and tapers before the favorite divinity. In Babylon, this practice had been exceedingly prevalent, as we learn from the Apocryphal writer of the Book of Baruch [Chapter 6, verse 18]. "They (the Babylonians)," says he, "light up lamps to their gods, and that in greater numbers, too, than they do for themselves, although the gods cannot see one of them, and are senseless as the beams in their houses." In Pagan Rome, the same practice was observed.
Source: The Two Babylons, by the Rev. Alexander Hislop, published 1943 and 1959 in the U.S. by Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune New Jersey, page 191.
So in a Catholic Bible, if you look in the 6th Chapter of Baruch, you will find confirmation that the Pagan Babylonian practice was to light lamps or candles before the idols of their gods. I would venture to say that if you enter virtually any Catholic Church, you will find statues of Mary, Jesus or various saints that have candles lit before them. This practice has no Christian or Jewish origin, it is strictly pagan, and honors the sun god. Wax candles are not Christian in origin, they are Pagan, and have no place in true Christian worship.
And what of the Catholic "blessing of the new fire" on the evening before Easter Sunday, from which so many candles are lit? Is it not now obvious that its origin is not in the celebration of the risen Son of God, but rather idol worship and the pagan Babylonian god of fire, and sun-god, whose emblem is a flaming heart, and whose name is Baal or Tammuz? The "blessing of the new fire" is an adopted pagan practice that honors the new strength of the Sun as evidenced by the increasing daylight and lessening night after the Spring Equinox, and this has been plainly admitted by Catholics:
6. The Easter Fire
The Easter Fire is lit on the top of mountains (Easter mountain, Osterberg) and must be kindled from new fire, drawn from wood by friction (nodfyr); this is a custom of pagan origin in vogue all over Europe, signifying the victory of spring over winter. The bishops issued severe edicts against the sacrilegious Easter fires (Conc. Germanicum, a. 742, c.v.; Council of Lestines, a. 743, n. 15), but did not succeed in abolishing them everywhere. The Church adopted the observance into the Easter ceremonies, referring it to the fiery column in the desert and to the Resurrection of Christ; the new fire on Holy Saturday is drawn from flint, symbolizing the Resurrection of the Light of the World from the tomb closed by a stone (Missale Rom.). In some places a figure was thrown into the Easter fire, symbolizing winter, but to the Christians on the Rhine, in Tyrol and Bohemia, Judas the traitor (Reinsberg-Düringfeld, Das festliche Jahr, 112 sq.).
Source: The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1909 edition, Vol.5, page 227, article "Easter".
See also: Consecration to Flaming Hearts
The Ndocciata Torchlight Procession and Pagan light worship in the Catholic Church.
Fire and Pagan Zoroastrian Worship
Zoroastrian worship involves prayers and symbolic ceremonies said before a sacred fire. This fire, which was a God-symbol even before Zarathushtra, was used by the Prophet and by his followers ever after as the ideal sign of God, who is light, warmth, energy. Zoroastrians do NOT worship fire, as some people believe. They use Fire as a symbol, or an icon, the focus of their worship.
Source: FAQ for the alt.religion.zoroastrianism newsgroup.
Hot Cross Buns
Among people of Western Europe, it is traditional to eat hot cross buns on Easter Sunday morning. These small, sweet buns are usually decorated with equal armed, or solar crosses made of white icing; but the Pagan Greeks also made offerings of cakes inscribed with the solar cross to several Goddesses. Eos, the Goddess of the Sunrise, was probably among these. Anglo-Saxons too make offerings of cakes incised with solar crosses, and they were worn as amulets and hung in the homes for protection and prosperity.
Source: Ancient Ways - Reclaiming Pagan Traditions, by Pauline Campanelli, Copyright 1991, Llewellyn Publications, A Division of Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., P.O. Box 64383, St. Paul, MN 55164-0383, page 45.
The hot cross buns of Good Friday, and the dyed eggs of Pasch or Easter Sunday, figured in the Chaldean [Babylonian] rites just as they do now. The "buns" known too by that identical name, were used in the worship of the queen of heaven, the goddess Easter [Ishtar/Astarte], as early as the days of Cecrops, the founder of Athens - that is, 1500 years before the Christian era. "One species of sacred bread," says Byrant, (1) "which used to be offered to the gods was of great antiquity, and called the Boun." Diogenes Laerius, speaking of this offering being made by Empedocles, describes the chief ingredients of which it was composed, saying, "He offered one of the sacred cakes called Boun, which was made of fine flour and honey." (2) The prophet Jeremiah takes notice of this kind of offering when he says, "The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women kneed their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven." The hot cross buns are not now offered, but eaten, on the festival of Astarte; but this leaves no doubt as to whence they have been derived.
(1) Mythology, vol. i, p. 373.
(2) LAERTIUS, p. 227, B.
Source: The Two Babylons, by the Rev. Alexander Hislop, published 1943 and 1959 in the U.S. by Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune New Jersey, pages 107-108.
Jer 7:18 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 may provoke me to anger.
Jer 7:19 Do they provoke me to anger? saith the LORD: do they not provoke themselves to the confusion of their own faces?
Jer 44:19 And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?