Easter was established in Western Europe by the First Council of Nicea in AD 325. After Constantine decided to Christianize the Empire, Easter was changed to represent Jesus. The repackaged Christian celebration was declared the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox.
In AD 595, Pope Gregory sent a mission of 40 monks to England with instructions to convert the pagan inhabitants to Christianity. Lead by Benedictine Augustine, the conversion tactic was to allow the outward forms of pagan festivals and beliefs to remain intact, but wherever possible, superimpose Christian ceremonies and philosophy on them. He determined conversion through coercion was preferred to death.
Pope Gregory I is the only pope between the fifth and the eleventh centuries whose correspondence and writings have survived enough to form a comprehensive corpus.
Pope Gregory assumed that the deeply superstitious would be less likely to oppose seasonal festivals of the pagan calendar if they were Christianized, provided the pagan festivals remained basically unchanged. Over time, the main feasts were manipulated into days honoring Christ or one of the martyrs. Within a hundred years, 40 observed pagan days of celebration were given saints’ names. All pagan big feast days were successfully converted to Christian festivals.
Many believe Ishtar is the goddess that is being honored during this season. However, that is incorrect. Although Ishtar is a Babylonian goddess associated with fertility and sex, her symbolism is the lion, a gate, and an eight-pointed star. Historically, the correct parallel is Eostre or Ostara, a Germanic pagan goddess. In context, English was not a language at this moment in history. Other names used at the time were Pascha, Pâques, Pasqua, Pasen, Paaske, or Paskha to name a few.
Ēostre, the namesake of the festival of Easter replaced by the Christian Paschal month.
Rabbits and eggs are fertility symbols associated with Eostre. Bonfires were ignited the moment the sun rose. Water drawn that morning was considered by pagans to be holy and for healing. Maidens clothed in white, presented themselves in clefts of the rock and on mountains to honor the goddess and the returning of Spring. After all, Spring was considered a resurrection of sorts considering the land coming back to life after lying dead and bare during the winter months. Easy pickings.
Why were laws and holy days so special to the children of Israel compromised to such a degree? The pretty simple answer is control and conquest. Ancient Romans and the church were manipulative when it came to conquering and conversion. They incorporated gods and goddesses from every religion they encountered into their own pantheon. When the Roman Empire became Christian, the Roman Catholic Church continued to do the same thing. Research beyond the surface of almost any Westernized Christian holiday (from the circled cross to Christmas through Easter), and you will find pagan elements.
Interesting enough, Christianity is not the only religion that holds this season in high regard. Wiccans and other occult practices hold Eostre in high esteem. At the root, the season is associated with the Spring Equinox, the moment between the darkest winter and the height of summer, which is observed across various cultures.
Before we wear all white, schedule an Easter Egg Hunt on church grounds, give our children Easter baskets, etc., we really must think deeply- is God pleased?