Jehovah's Witnesses are well known for avoiding most if not all religious holiday celebrations. Most reasons center on the apparent linkage of these celebrations with various pagan celebrations and feasts celebrated by non-Jews before Jesus came to earth and established Christianity.

What specifically do JWs say about the Easter holiday and its origins and what (if anything) the Bible has to say about celebrating Easter?


3 Answers 3


In a word - Nothing.

The word itself never appears in the Bible (some English translations put it in but the text does not have it.) The word was a later 'invention', as a sort of short-hand for the resurrection of Christ. Jehovah's Witnesses are not unique in saying this.

In their alphabetic "Insight on the Scriptures" (1988), the heading "Easter" never appears, nor is it mentioned under "Resurrection - through Jesus Christ". There is nothing under "Calendar" and there is no heading, "Celebrations". The word appears to be almost taboo, except in articles that criticize Easter celebrations of others. They have no celebration at all of Christ's resurrection from the dead.

They commemorate the death of Christ. It is a solemn, annual event. And they also say they believe in the resurrection of Christ. They teach that as a fact that must be believed. Although they differ from mainstream Christian groups in saying what was resurrected, they do believe in the resurrection of a dead Christ, on the third day. Yet there is nothing in their meetings on the equivalent of that third day to celebrate it.

This means that the answer to the initial question remains, "Nothing". They insist the Bible says nothing about "Easter", but that it does say quite a lot about the resurrection of Christ. They just never conflate the two concepts.

However, there is a second question - "What specifically do JWs say about the Easter holiday and its origins?" Well, as do so many Jehovah's Witnesses in answering questions about what they say on topics, I will do likewise by suggesting going to their official web-site, where a great deal on the matter is to be found there. Just key in the search-word "Easter". There is far too much there for me to put into this answer, for they say a great deal. I am sticking to the in initial question.


The Bible reveals more about Easter than some would think *.

The word Easter generally refers to a Christian festival or holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In several other languages, the word used for this festival is more related to Pascha (e.g., Dutch: Pasen, Russian: Пасха, Spanish: Pascua). This indicates a relation of the festival to the Jewish/Hebrew Pesach, or Passover festival, which is celebrated to commemorate the exodus of the Jews/Israelites from Egypt. The Bible contains many scriptures that speak about this Passover festival (e.g., Exodus 12:18, Exodus 12:25-27, Numbers 9:1-5, 2 Kings 23:21-23, Ezekiel 45:21-24, Luke 2:41-42,). The bible also connects the events of Jesus death and resurrection to the time period of the celebration of the Passover commemoration (Matthew 26:17-19). Jesus himself, instated the lords evening meal with the wine and the bread representing his blood and body, on the night of the Passover meal (on the 14 Nisan), and told his followers to keep doing this in remembrance of him (Luke. 22:19, 1 COR. 11:24). There are also symbolic links between the Passover festival and the death and sacrifice of Jesus.

“…For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5:7 [NIV]

Note: the concept of a “Lamb” that was sacrificed to pay or take away sins, and the representation of Jesus as a Lamb on earth as well as in heaven (Isaiah 53:7, John 1:29, Revelation 5:12.). Later also Paul wrote about this new celebration of the lords evening meal (1 Corinthians 11:20-29). There is however, no mention or indication in the bible of a celebration or festival of Jesus resurrection. That does not mean that Jesus’ resurrection was not an important or significant event. It is essential (1 Corinthians 15:14–19), but there are no records of its celebration in the bible.

Furthermore, the symbols used at the celebration of Easter as it is common today with Easter eggs and Easter bunnies has clearly shared roots with festivals, tradition, and rituals of pagan origins. The decoration of eggshells already happened in ancient cultures in Africa, and Mesopotamia. Also, the Etymology of the word Easter, seems to be related to “Eostre” a Germanic spring goddess. Apparently, the pagan German Anglo-Saxon feasts in Eostre’s honor with the use of fertility symbols have been mixed with the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.

The Bible also contains some clear directions about abstaining from pagan celebrations and traditions (Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 13:1-18, I Peter 1:18, Exodus 34:14, [what could that ‘name’ be?], James 3:11-12 Revelation 22:18-19). This is a short summary of how Jehovah’s Witnesses relate the contents of the bible to the concepts of the Easter celebration. And these are also the principles behind, why they do not celebrate Easter. It should however also be noted, that Jehovah’s Witnesses do “celebrate” or commemorate the evening meal celebration that Jesus instated, and asked his apostles to keep doing (Luke. 22:19, 1 COR. 11:24).

“After giving thanks, he broke [the loaf] and said: ‘This means my body which is in your behalf. Keep doing this in remembrance of me.’” 1 Corinthians 11:24 [NWT].

Further References that clarify the views of Jehovah’s Witnesses on this topic in more detail are:

Watchtower 5/15 1963 Easter- What Are Its Origins

Watchtower 3/1 2015 Is Easter Really a Christian Celebration?

*The Bible does not explicitly speak about an AK-47 Kalashnikov rifle, however, it’s a weapon used for threat and killing, and the bible says about principles related to life, weapons, and killing. Similarly, historical facts related to the celebration's origins and the etymology of Easter give some handles to which many general and specific bible principles could be applied.


According to Jehovah's Witnesses what does the Bible say about Easter?

According to Jehovah's Witnesses the celebration of Easter is not based on the Bible.

For most Christian denominations the celebration of Easter is the commemoration of the Lord Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead.

The Pascal Mysteries were celebrated long before the term Easter was employed for Resurrection Sunday!

The word "Easter" is employed only in English and, at most, a few other Germanic languages. Literally everywhere else it is known in some form of "Pascha," taking its name from the Jewish Passover celebration which typically falls around the same time as Easter does and serves much the same ceremonial role.

This feast was celebrated for centuries, and called Pascal for Passover, before it was ever called Easter.

Jehovah’s Witnesses tend to reduce it to a pagan practice with secular activities and secular Easter symbolisms which in themselves are now considered Easter traditions in many areas, have no bearing on what in essence, the Feast of the Resurrection truly means and are not part of liturgical ceremonies of this holy day.

The celebration of Easter is not based on the Bible. If you look into its history, though, you will see the true meaning of Easter—it is a tradition based on ancient fertility rites. Consider the following.

Name: The Encyclopædia Britannica says: “The English name Easter is of uncertain origin; the Anglo-Saxon priest Venerable Bede in the 8th century derived it from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre.” Others link it to Astarte, the Phoenician fertility goddess who had the Babylonian counterpart Ishtar.

Hares, rabbits: These are symbols of fertility “handed down from the ancient ceremonial and symbolism of European and Middle Eastern pagan spring festivals.”​—Encyclopædia Britannica.

Eggs: According to Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, the hunt for Easter eggs, supposedly brought by the Easter rabbit, “is not mere child’s play, but the vestige of a fertility rite.” Some cultures believed that the decorated Easter egg “could magically bring happiness, prosperity, health, and protection.”—Traditional Festivals.

New Easter outfit: “It was considered discourteous and therefore bad luck to greet the Scandinavian goddess of Spring, or Eastre, in anything but fresh garb.”—The Giant Book of Superstitions.

Sunrise services: These have been linked to rites of ancient sun worshippers “performed at the vernal equinox welcoming the sun and its great power to bring new life to all growing things.” — Celebrations - The Complete Book of American Holidays.

The American Book of Days well describes the origin of Easter: “There is no doubt that the Church in its early days adopted the old pagan customs and gave a Christian meaning to them.”

The Bible warns against worshipping God by following traditions or customs that displease him. (Mark 7:6-8) Second Corinthians 6:17 states: “‘Separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing.’” Easter is a pagan holiday that those who want to please God will avoid. - What Does the Bible Say About Easter?

The English term, Easter, according to the Ven. Bede relates to Estre, a Teutonic goddess of the rising light of day and spring, which deity, however, is otherwise unknown. But the commemoration of the Lord’s Death and Resurrection dates back to the Apostolic Times.

Liturgically, Catholics and I imagine some other denominations refer to Easter Sunday as Resurrection Sunday (Dominica Resurrectionis).

The Greeks called Easter the pascha anastasimon; Good Friday the pascha staurosimon. The respective terms used by the Latins are Pascha resurrectionis and Pascha crucifixionis. In the Roman and Monastic Breviaries the feast bears the title Dominica Resurrectionis; in the Mozarabic Breviary, In Lætatione Diei Pasch Resurrectionis; in the Ambrosian Breviary, In Die Sancto Paschæ. - Easter (Catholic Encyclopaedia)

The life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with eggs, bunnies, flowers or chocolates, etc. What matters is that Jesus rose from the dead this day. It is the Solemnity of Solemnities!!!

Christus surrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia!

  • 3
    The parts of your answer that give denominational Pov that was not asked for are off topic
    – Kris
    Apr 9, 2023 at 4:04
  • @lesley or Ken could remove those bits and get a green check
    – Kris
    Apr 9, 2023 at 13:00
  • 3
    Fwiw JWs say that the Bible tells us to commemorate the death of Jesus. The Bible is silent on commemorating his resurrection.
    – Kris
    Apr 9, 2023 at 23:00

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