David Silverman, communications director of American Atheists recently mentioned in a Hannity & Colmes interview that he objects to the Easter bunny, since Easter is a religious holiday. Now, as we all know, Easter comes from the pagan celebration of Ishtar, which I suppose has fertility rites, hence the bunnies and eggs. But the real questions that we should discuss are:
- Should Christians celebrate Christian holidays with “pagan” roots, like Easter and Christmas?
- Should Christians celebrate the Jewish holidays in a Christian way?
- Should Christians celebrate alternative holidays whenever they want to?
Now the way I see it, there have traditionally been a few responses:
1. TOTAL ABSTENTION: No Holidays
Well, mostly cults do this, but some groups think that celebrating anything not explicitly mentioned in the New Testament is out, including birthdays and most holidays. Holidays are worldly. I guess for them, even the Jewish holy days are out too, cause they’re Old Testament.
2. PARTIAL ABSTENTION: Only Observe Holidays that Don’t Offend Religious Sensibilities
So no Christmas or Easter (pagan), but birthdays and Thanksgiving seem ok. Certainly not Halloween.
3. MODIFIED CELEBRATIONS: Creating Alternatives
Many Christian churches now offer alternative Halloween Celeberations, usually called Harvest Festivals or something like that. Fun for the kids, no demons or witches. Sounds good to me. Interestingly, many more regular Christians are looking for alternatives to the commercialism of Christmas, not to mention it’s pagan, secular, and Christian roots and bad timing (too close to Thanksgiving ;). Many choose merely to volunteer in soup kitchens and not exchange gifts, or celebrate Christmas in a more subdued manner. Many Protestants have even begun to celebrate the more Catholic Feast of the Magi and Twelfth Night, which are the end of the Epiphany Observances. In part, these are attractive because they don’t involve
Satan Santa, because the latter part of the celebration is farther away from Thanksgiving, and because they are actually more closely aligned with the true biblical events.
4. MODIFIED CELEBRATIONS: Judaizing the Holidays
Instead of Easter, why not Celebrate Christian Passover with Jesus as the Lamb? Some groups advocate replacing the religious holiday celebrations with Christian versions of the holidays, and some actually advocate that Christians should celebrate ALL of the Jewish holidays that reflected the coming messiah.
5. ACCOMODATION: Celebrate Like the Culture, But Emphasize the True Meanings
Most Christians, I would imagine, have
Ishtar Easter Egg hunts, even at their churches, and many have Santa as well at Christmas. But in their masses, church services, and homes, they remind us that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Is that good enough? Or is that a copout? It is hard to be an outcast in your culture by not participating, and many parents are concerned about making their kids social outcasts as well.