Easter and other Festivals

Pagan origin of Church Festivals and Ceremonies

Extracts from: ‘Easter Sunday’, The Islamic Review, Vol. 11, No. 5 (May 1923), pp. 186–189

The Muslim Thinker, April/May/June 1990 Issue (Issue 3, pp. 9–12)

Easter Sunday is the day of the greatest Christian festivity. Jesus, they say, arose from the dead; this day he overcame death and brought a new life to mankind; so goes the belief.

But the festival existed thousands of years before Jesus was born. Easter was the goddess of spring, in whose honour the festival was celebrated about the end of March or the beginning of April. The Saxons of the pre-Christian days used to enjoy their Easter eggs and hot cross buns while worshipping the goddess whom they called Eostre.

The celebration of the festival with hot cross buns and eggs was not peculiar to this country. The Egyptians and the Greeks of the olden days did the same. Eggs and buns were regarded as signs of creation by the old Egyptians; spring brings life to creation, hence the festivities at this particular time of the year. The same is true in India and Persia till today, festivals taking the names of Besaakhi [Baisakhi; Vaisakhi] and Nauroz [Nowruz]. The sign of the cross is also a legacy of the ancient day worship of Mithra, the sun-god.

Pagan Origin of Christian Sacred Days:

The fact that the date of Easter has to be fixed according to the full moon, at the spring equinox, clearly shows that the festival has more to do with the worship of some luminary than with any event in the life of Jesus. These views are strengthened when we consider other Christian sacred days. Christian scholars only speak the truth when they confess their inability to ascertain the date of the birth of Jesus. No one can do so with certainty. That the day of the birth of the sun-god was celebrated by the sun worshippers in the pre-Christian world on or about the 25th of December in Persia, Rome, Egypt, or Greece, is an established fact. Then comes the Sabbath Day in Christian lands. Jesus observed the Sabbath, but it was on Saturday, and not on Sunday; and so did the apostles and the early fathers of the Church. The change was brought about by Constantine, whose favourite god was Apollo, the sun-god.

Jesus takes Apollo’s Place:

Political reasons induced Constantine to embrace Christianity. He kept everything of old worship in the newly created Church excepting the figurehead. The seat of Apollo was given to Jesus, while every other thing was left as it was before. The altar, with its face towards the East, the chancel, the choir, the acolytes, the pages, the monks and the nuns, with the characteristic tonsure in honour of the disc of the sun, and the Cross itself — in short, every paraphernalia of a Catholic Cathedral — is the remnant of the Temple of Apollo. Sunday is not God’s day, but the day of the sun-god. It is not the church of Jesus which is adhered to, but the Church of the sun-god, and if today she has lost her hold on the public mind, the reason is obvious. Ignorance and credulity will accept and revere anything in any form, but the modern mind is too enlightened to stand the absurdities of the medieval days.

Cross — Symbol of Sun-worship:

The cross as a symbol is of immemorial antiquity, far antedating the Christian era. Almost all ancient religions were different forms of sun-worship, with the Cross as its symbol. The seasons of the year, depending on the position of the sun, have been divided into four parts — spring, summer, autumn and winter. If you divide the earth’s orbit around the sun into four parts, it will form a cross. The revivification of the earth in spring, at the vernal equinox on March 21st, when the sun enters the sign Aries, heralds the regeneration of vegetation and the life of Nature, hence the festival of Easter, which is celebrated even today in different forms under different names in Persia and India.

Mythical Life of Persian Sun-god:

Mithra was the sun-god, and the Cross was his symbol. He was born of a virgin, in a cave, on December 25th. He had twelve companions or disciples (the twelve months); he was buried in a tomb and rose again. He was called Saviour and Mediator, and was sometimes figured as a lamb. Sacramental feasts were held in remembrance of him. Mithraism was adopted by the Romans and brought by them to England and France. Mithraic remains have been found in various places in England and on the continent. In Ireland, a figure on a cross has been found, but the effigy wears the Iranian regal crown and not the crown of thorns.

Some sort of baptism was also in vogue in the Mithraic ritual which was performed by marking the forehead with a cross; the worshippers also partook of a sacrament of a small wafer; it was a round cake, emblematic of the solar disc; the worshippers named their host Mizd, and some authorities derive the word mass from the same.

Christmas — Birthday of various Sun-gods:

The date of Christmas throws a good deal of light on the subject; the 25th of December, or some date very near to it, happens to be the birthdate of many gods in various mythologies — Bacchus, Osiris, Attis, Adonis and Quetzalcoatl — the respective sun-gods of Greece, Egypt, Phrygia, Phoenicia and Mexico. If they were born on the 25th of December, their parents must have had their marriage on the 25th of March, which day is, again, Our Lady’s Day in the Christian calendar. It is curious that the conception of Ishtar, the mother of the sun-god, was kept as a festival in Phoenicia and was celebrated on the same date. In this connection it may be mentioned that there was a cave at Bethlehem in which Mithra was worshipped in pre-Christian days. The existence of the said cave is admitted by the Christian Fathers (Irenaeus among other).

The story of the Passion is, again, a repetition of an old Passion Play, acted thousands of years before the reported events of the Cross and Resurrection.

Do these facts need any comment? Are they not eloquent enough to show that the Church of Christ is really the Church of the sun-god? (The facts given above may be verified from scholarly sources such as: Robertson, Pagan Christs, and Frazer, The Golden Bough.)

The Quran’s Verdict:

The modem discovery that these Christian beliefs and festivals are copied from ancient idolatrous nations was indicated in the Quran centuries earlier. Referring to the exaggerated status that is claimed for Jesus, the Quran tells Christians:

یٰۤاَہۡلَ الۡکِتٰبِ لَا تَغۡلُوۡا فِیۡ دِیۡنِکُمۡ غَیۡرَ الۡحَقِّ وَ لَا تَتَّبِعُوۡۤا اَہۡوَآءَ قَوۡمٍ قَدۡ ضَلُّوۡا مِنۡ قَبۡلُ وَ اَضَلُّوۡا کَثِیۡرًا وَّ ضَلُّوۡا عَنۡ سَوَآءِ السَّبِیۡلِ ﴿٪۷۷﴾

“O people of the Book, exaggerate not in the matter of your religion unjustly, and follow not the low desires of nations who went astray before and led many astray, and went astray from the right path.” (The Holy Quran, 5:77)