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Why Do Non-Christians Celebrate Easter?

Updated on October 27, 2015
Why do non-Christians celebrate Easter?
Why do non-Christians celebrate Easter? | Source

Christian's don't hold sole right to the celebration of Easter. In fact, the holiday is named for a Teuton goddess named Ostara!

Christians Don't Have a Monopoly on Easter

Christians celebrate Easter as the day that Jesus rose from the dead, fulfilling prophecy and saving His followers from their sins. But why do non-Christian people of varying persuasions celebrate Easter? Did you know that there is a pagan Easter, or that the celebration of Easter may have originated in pagan practices?

While Easter is most known as a Christian holiday, religious pagans (also sometimes known as witches or wiccans) celebrate their own Spring feast, which they refer to as Ostara, named for the Goddess of the same name (also called Eostre or Ishtar). But what are these celebrations all about, and do these non-Christian people have the same right to the holiday as those celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Yes, of course they do!

Many of the symbols of Easter are pagan in their origins. Of course pagans have a right to celebrate their Easter.
Many of the symbols of Easter are pagan in their origins. Of course pagans have a right to celebrate their Easter. | Source

Why do Pagans Celebrate Easter?

Pagans honor the Goddess Ostara (Eostre or Ishtar) during the Spring (or Vernal) Equinox in a celebration of fertility and coming newness of the Earth. Many Christians find this practice offensive as fertility rituals in paganism often involve physical intimacy of a sort that is representative of the sex act, which of course brings about reproduction. This is, after all, what fertility is all about.

Many Christian or secular people may not be aware that paganism is a group of religions. Rather than a single religion called "paganism," several different religions (which are practiced world wide) fall under the blanket term "paganism." Furthermore, paganism is broken into segments, such as Celtic paganism (Druidism, often Wicca, and branches of Neo-Paganism), Heathen pagansim (following the Germanic and Norse roots) and Kemetic paganism (which follows the practices of the ancient Egyptians and the worship of their pantheons).

The modern practice of pagan Easter (Ostara) is primarily a Wiccan practice, though it has its place in modern heathen practices as well. Many pagan groups are Earth worshippers and for this reason they honor the Earth through rituals at this time of year in order to offer supplication (and sacrifices) for fertility in the upcoming year. This is where the eggs and bunnies come from at Easter.

Eggs and baskets are a huge part of the Spring rituals often practiced by Pagans.
Eggs and baskets are a huge part of the Spring rituals often practiced by Pagans. | Source

Which do you believe came first?

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So Which Came First? The Christian Easter or the Pagan Ostara?

The truth is that nobody is completely sure about this. There's been some speculation, and most believe that the Pagan Ishtar (pronounced like "Easter") and her traditions come from earlier than the Christian practices surrounding the remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most of what we know about Easter comes from the Venerable Bede, and this information is somewhat contradictory and unclear.

The Spring celebrations that we associate with Easter most likely pre-date Christianity. Are these celebrations the equivalent of celebrating Easter alongside the neo-pagan religious folks? Or are they something different? This is a question that many people who discuss or write about this topic have to as themselves, and the answers will differ from one person to the next.

What is clear is that Easter is a holiday which is shared by people of different faiths and which has a secular component to it.

Depending on the belief system of an individual, Easter is either celebrated as a religious holiday, celebrated as a secular holiday, or not celebrated at all. In some cases, people will celebrate as both a secular and a religious holiday.

Easter celebrations and traditions are steeped in pagan symbolism.
Easter celebrations and traditions are steeped in pagan symbolism. | Source

Easter Symbolism

Christian
Pagan
Secular
Resurrection of Christ
Springtime
Springtime
New Life in Christ
Fertility
Parties and Decorations
Salvation through Jesus
Ostara/Ishtar/Eostre
Candy
Easter Egg hunts are common in the springtime.
Easter Egg hunts are common in the springtime. | Source

People Celebrate Easter Because It's Fun

The true reason that most people celebrate Easter is relatively simple: It's a lot of fun. Those pagan traditions that have carried into the modern world have come with us because of the fact that these celebrations and traditions are fun. Who doesn't love a good Easter Egg hunt, coloring and decorating eggs and eating chocolate? People celebrate Easter because they don't want to miss out on any of this fun.

Besides, most of these symbols, the rabbit, the eggs, the lambs and the flowers, are rooted in practices that pre-date Christianity by hundreds (if not thousands) of years. You don't have to be Christian to enjoy the secular Spring celebration (though there are some Christians who believe that believers should forgo these celebrations because Christians are meant to avoid pagan traditions and practices).

This Article is Copyrighted to Becki Rizzuti

As you will see on the bottom of this page, this article is copyrighted to Becki Rizzuti. All rights are reserved. If you see this article published on another site, please note that this is the original. No, you may not take my work in full or in part, even if you provide a link back to this page. The original date of publication of this hub is February 27th, 2014.

Why Would Someone Not Celebrate Easter?

One final note to this article: Some Christians choose not to celebrate Easter because of its pagan roots and the pagan symbolism of Easter. The fact is, however, that non-Christians have no reason not to celebrate a secular Easter holiday. It's fun, and children enjoy the magic of this holiday. If you don't have any reason not to participate in Easter, then go on ahead and bite into that chocolate bunny!

© 2014 Becki Rizzuti

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    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 3 years ago from Tennesee

      What a lovely and informative article! Thanks for posting!

    • beckisgiftguides profile image
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      Becki Rizzuti 3 years ago from Indianapolis, Indiana

      I'm glad you could appreciate it, Beth! I was worried it was going to come out a bit flat since I write on this topic so often that I feel like I'm beating a dead horse lol

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 3 years ago from Tennesee

      No, it isn't flat at all! Very refreshing style you have.

    • beckisgiftguides profile image
      Author

      Becki Rizzuti 3 years ago from Indianapolis, Indiana

      Thank you, Beth! That makes me feel so much better (:

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Becki, I did read that, this is very interesting and voted that way.

      I agree with bethperry.

    • Author Cheryl profile image

      Cheryl 3 years ago

      Very good read. Voted up. Just so you know there are birthday cake peeps this year that I plan on indulging in. Thanks for making me think of them. lol

    • beckisgiftguides profile image
      Author

      Becki Rizzuti 3 years ago from Indianapolis, Indiana

      Thank you both! I think I've seen the birthday cake peeps, Cheryl, but I haven't been able to check them out yet. I love Peeps. They are such a guilty pleasure haha.

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      Brenda 3 years ago

      Laying in bed this morning wondering about the relevance of the egg and rabbit and there you were to tell me thanks a lot very informative

    • Anate profile image

      Joseph Ray 2 years ago

      Ostara/Eostre are not the same goddess as Ishtar. Ostara/Eostre is a Germanic (Indo-European people group) goddess of the dawn like the Roman Aurora and Greek Eos. Ishtar is the Babylonian goddess of love, war, and sex. Ostara/Eostre like Aurora are actually often representative of resurrection because they represent the return of light to the world.

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