E HAVE SEEN from the Scriptures certain reasons for questioning Friday as the day on which Christ was crucified. Yet each Friday, many Catholics abstain from meat—substituting fish in its place—supposedly in remembrance of the Friday crucifixion. Roman Catholics in the United States are no longer required by their church to abstain from meat on Fridays (as formerly)—except during Lent—nevertheless many still follow the custom of fish on Friday.
Certainly the Scriptures never associate fish with Friday. On the other hand, the word "Friday" comes from the name of "Freya", who was regarded as the goddess of peace, joy, and FERTILITY, the symbol of her fertility being the FISH. From very early times the fish was a symbol of fertility among the Chinese, Assyrians, Phoenicians, the Babylonians, and others.1 The word "fish" comes from dag which implies increase or fertility,2 and with good reason. A single cod fish annually spawns upwards of 9,000,000 eggs; the flounder 1,000,000; the sturgeon 700,000; the perch 400,000; the mackeral 500,000; the herring 10,000, etc.
The goddess of sexual fertility among the Romans was called Venus. It is from her name that our word "veneral" (as in veneral disease), has come. Friday was regarded as her sacred day because it was believed that the planet Venus ruled the first hour of Friday and thus was called dies Veneris.3 And—to make the significance complete—the fish was also regarded as being sacred to her.4 The accompanying illustration as seen Venus with in Ancient Pagan and Modern Chris- fish symbol
tian Symbolism shows the goddess Venus with her symbol, the fish.5
The fish was regarded as sacred to Ashtoreth, the name under which the Israelites worshipped the pagan goddess. In ancient Egypt, Isis was sometimes represented with a fish on her head, as seen in the accompanying illustration. Considering that Friday was named after the goddess of sexual fertility, Friday being her sacred day, and the fish her symbol, it seems like more than a mere coincidence that Catholics have been taught that Friday is a day of abstinence from meat, a day to eat fiSh!
We have already noticed why some Christians have rejected Friday as the day of the crucifixion and Isis and Horus. Easter Sunday morning as the time of the resurrection. From where, then, did Easter observance come? Did the early Christians dye Easter eggs? Did Peter or Paul ever Conduct an Easter sunrise service? The answers are, of course, obvious.
The word "Easter" appears once in the King James Version: "...intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people" (Acts 12:4). The word translated "Easter" here is pascha which is—as ALL scholars know—the Greek word for passover and has no connection with the English "Easter." It is well-known that "Easter" is not a Christian expression—not in its original meaning. The word comes from the name of a pagan goddess—the goddess of the rising light of day and spring. "Easter" is but a more modern form of Eostre, Ostera, Astarte, or Ishtar, the latter, according to Hislop, being pronounced as we pronounce "Easter" today.7
Like the word "Easter", many of our customs at this season had their beginnings among non-Christian religions. Easter eggs, for example, are colored, hid, hunted, and eaten—a custom done innocently today and often linked with a time of fun and frolic for children. But this custom did not originate in Christianity. The egg was, however, a sacred symbol among the Babylonians who believed an old fable about an
egg of wonderous size which fell from heaven into the Euphrates River. From this marvellous egg—according to the ancient myth—the goddess Astarte (Easter) was hatched. The egg came to symbolize the goddess Easter.8
The ancient Druids bore an egg as the sacred emblem of their idolatrous order.9 The procession of Ceres in Rome was preceded by an egg.10 In the mysteries of Bacchus an egg was consecrated. China used dyed or colored eggs in sacred festivals. In Japan, an ancient custom was to make the sacred egg a brazen color. In northern Europe, in pagan times, eggs were colored and used as symbols of the goddess of spring. The illustration given below shows two ways the pagans represented their sacred eggs. On the left is the Egg of Heliopolis; on the right, the Typhon's Egg. Among the Egyptians, the egg was associated with the sun—the "golden egg."11 Their dyed eggs were used as sacred offerings at the Easter season.12
Says The Encyclopedia Britannica, "The egg as a symbol of fertility and of renewed life goes back to the ancient Egyptians and Persians, who had also the custom of coloring and
eating eggs during their spring festival "J3 How, then did this custom come to be associated with Christianity? Apparently some sought to Christianize the egg by suggesting that as the chick comes out of the egg, so Christ came out of the tomb. Pope Paul V (1605-1621) even appointed a prayer in this connection: "Bless, O Lord, we beseech thee, this thy creature of eggs, that it may become wholesome sustenance unto thy servants, eating it in remembrance of our Lord
The following quotations from The Catholic Encyclopedia are significant. "Because the use of eggs was forbidden during Lent, they were brought to the table of Easter Day, colored red to symbolize the Easter joy...The custom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter"! Suchwas the case with a custom that was popular in Europe. The Easter Fire is lit on the top of mountains from new fire, drawn from wood by friction; this is a custom of pagan origin in vogue all over Europe, signifying the victory of spring over winter. The bishops issued severe edicts against the sacrilegious Easter fires, but did not succeed in abolishing them everywhere." So what happened? Notice this carefully! "The Church adopted the observance into the Easter ceremonies, referring it to the fiery column in the desert and to the resurrection of Christ"! Were pagan customs mixed mto the Romish church and given the appearance of Christianity. It is not necessary to take my word for it, in numerous places The Catholic Encyclopedia comes right out and says so Finally, one more quote concerns the Easter Rabbit: "The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertUity."15 "Like the Easter egg, the Easter hare", says the Encyclo-
pedia Britannica "came to Christianity from antiquity. The hare is associated with the moon in the legends of ancient Egypt and other peoples...Through the fact that the Egyptian word for hare, urn, means also 'open' and 'period , the hare came to be associated with the idea of periodicity, both lunar and human, and with the beginning of new life in both the young man and young woman, and so a symbol of fertility and of the renewal of life. As such, the hare became linked with Easter...eggs."15 Thus both the Easter rabbit and Easter eggs were symbols of sexual significance, symbols of fertility.
At the Easter season it is not uncommom for Christians to attend sunrise services. It is assumed that such honor Christ because he rose from the dead on Easter Sunday morning just as the sun was coming up. But the resurrection did not actually occur at sunrise, for it was yet DARK when Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and it was already empty! On the other hand, there was a type of sunrise service that was a part of ancient sun worship. We do not mean to imply, of course, that Christian people today worship the sun in their Easter sunrise services. Nor do we say that those who bow before the monstrance sun-image with its round, sun shaped host are worshipping the sun. But such practices, being without scriptural example, do indicate that mixtures have been made.
In the time of Ezekiel, even people who had known the true God, fell into sun worship and made it a part of their worship. "And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the EAST; and they worshipped the sun toward the EAST" (Ezekiel 8:16). The fact that they worshipped the sun toward the east shows it was a sunrise service. The next verse says: "...and, lo, they put the branch to their nose." Fausset says this "alludes to the idolatrous usage of holding up a branch of tamarisk to the nose at daybreak whilst they sang hymns to the rising sun."16
It was also to the east that the prophets of Baal looked in the days of Elijah. Baal was the sun-god, and so god of fire. When Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal with the words, "The God that answers by FIRE, let him be God", he was meeting Baal worship on its own grounds. What time of day was it when these prophets of Baal started calling on him? It was as Baal—the sun—made his first appearance over the eastern horizon. It was at "morning" (1 Kings 18:26), that is, at dawn}1
Rites connected with the dawning sun—in one form or another—have been known among many ancient nations. The Sphinx in Egypt was located so as to face the east. From Mount Fuji-yama, Japan, prayers are made to the rising sun. "The pilgrims pray to their rising sun while climbing the mountain sides...sometimes one may see several hundreds of Shinto pilgrims in their white robes turning out from their shelters, and joining their chants to the rising sun."18 The pagan Mithrists of Rome met together at dawn in honor of the sun-god.
The goddess of spring, from whose name our word "Easter" comes, was associated with the sun rising in the east —even as the very word "East-er" would seem to imply. Thus the dawn of the sun in the east, the name Easter, and the spring season are all connected.
According to the old legends, after Tammuz was slain, he descended into the underworld. But through the weeping of his "mother", Ishtar (Easter), he was mystically revived in spring. "The resurrection of Tammuz through Ishtar's grief was dramatically represented annually in order to insure the success of the crops and the fertility of the people. Each year men and women had to grieve with Ishtar over the death of Tammuz and celebrate the god's return in order to win anew her favor and her benefits!"19 When the new vegetation began to come forth, those ancient people believed their "savior" had come from the underworld, had ended winter, and caused spring to begin.20 Even the Israelites adopted the doctrines and rites of the annual pagan spring festival, for Ezekiel speaks of "women weeping for Tammuz" (Ezekiel 8:14).
As Christians we believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead in reality—not merely in nature or the new vegetation of spring. Because his resurrecton was in the spring of the year, it was not too difficult for the church of the fourth century (now having departed from the original faith in a number of ways) to merge the pagan spring festival into Christianity. In speaking of this merger, the Encyclopedia Britannica says, "Christianity...incorporated in its celebration of the great Christian feast day many of the heathen rites and customs of the spring festival"!21
Legend has it that Tammuz was killed by a wild boar when he was forty years old. Hislop points out that forty days—a day for each year Tammuz had lived on earth—were set aside to "weep for Tammuz." In olden times these forty days were observed with weeping, fasting, and self-chastisement— to gain anew his favor—so he would come forth from the underworld and cause spring to begin. This observance was not only known at Babylon, but also among the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Mexicans, and, for a time, even among the Israelites. "Among the pagans", says Hislop, "this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz."22
Having adopted other beliefs about the spring festival into the church, it was only another step in the development to also adopt the old "fast" that preceeded the festival. The Catholic Encyclopedia very honestly points out that "writers in the fourth century were prone to describe many practices (e.g. the Lenten fast of forty days) as of Apostolic institution which certainly had no claim to be so regarded."23 It was not until the sixth century that the pope officially ordered the observance of Lent, calling it a "sacred fast" during which people were to obstain from meat and a few other foods.
Catholic scholars know and recognize that there are customs within their church which were borrowed from paganism.2 4 But they reason that many things, though originally pagan, can be Christianized. If some pagan tribe observed forty days in honor of a pagan god, why should we not do the same, only in honor of Christ? Though pagans worshipped the sun toward the east, could we not have sunrise services to honor the resurrection of Christ, even though this was not the time of day he arose? Even though the egg was used by pagans, can't we continue its use and pretend it symbolizes the large rock that was in front of the tomb? In other words, why not adopt all kinds of popular customs, only instead of using them to honor pagan gods, as the heathen did, use them to honor Christ? It all sounds very logical, yet a much safer guideline is found in the Bible itself: "Take heed...that thou inquire not after their gods (pagan gods), saying: How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God... What thing soever I command you, observe to do it; thou shalt not add thereto."
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