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Why is the term Easter considered to
be controversial in some churches?

Easter is the annual commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and is considered the principal festival of the Christian church. It is celebrated on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or after March 21st — or one week later if the full moon falls on Sunday. Because of this, it is referred to as a movable feast, since it might be observed on varying dates between March 22 and April 25.

Some Christian leaders have objected to the use of Easter in association with Christ's resurrection because of two particular reasons: First, the one and only Biblical reference to the word "Easter" appears in the 1611 King James Version, and was a mistranslation of "PASCHA," the ordinary Greek word for Passover. Secondly, Easter was never used in association to Christ's resurrection until the eighth century, when it is believed that the pagan term was used as another effort to paganize Christian traditions.

According to 8th-century English scholar, Bede, the term, Easter, came from Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon name of a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility, to whom was dedicated a month corresponding to April. Her festival was celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox. Traditions associated with the festival are embodied in the Easter rabbit, a symbol of fertility, and in colored Easter eggs, originally painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring, and used in Easter-egg rolling contests or given as gifts.

In an effort to be more scriptural or to abstain from the association with pagan philosophies connected with Easter, churches sometimes prefer to use "The Resurrection Day" or other terminology that highlights the true Christian meaning of the observance. To use the term Easter or its traditions does not constitute any sin or violation of scripture, and should not be viewed as an issue of contention. However as with other pagan-influenced Christian traditions (such as Christmas), it is helpful for churches to educate people of the differences between historical fact and myths of antiquity.

This article is from the book, What People Ask About the Church, authored and copyrighted © by Dr. Dale A. Robbins, 1990-2015, and is a publication of Victorious Publications, Grass Valley, CA - Nashville, TN. Unless otherwise stated, all scripture references were taken from The New King James Bible, © Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982. You may download this article for personal use as long as you retain credit to the author. Obtain permission before reproducing copies for any reason, by filling out our simple permission form. Many of our writings are also available as free pdf tri-fold pamphlets, which can be downloaded for reproduction from our Online Catalog. For media reproduction rights, or to obtain quantities of this title in other formats, email us.