Though perhaps the day with the highest church attendance, Easter Sunday can be a source of contention among Christians. Some Christians view Easter as having pagan origins or being so commercialized that it is wrong to participate. Others simply view Easter as a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, perhaps the best and most important celebration of the year. Many believers prefer to call Easter “Resurrection Sunday” to highlight that the celebration is about Jesus. Some Christians participate only in the church-related aspects of celebrating Easter, whereas others include the more societal aspects like Easter egg hunts and baskets full of candy. Does the Bible say anything about whether Christians should celebrate Easter?
The Bible does not mention the observance of Easter and so does not directly address the question of whether Christians should celebrate Easter. Christians who believe we should celebrate Easter and those who believe we should not are hard pressed to make a solid biblical case either way. Jesus’ death and resurrection are realities we celebrate all year through. In fact, the church meeting on Sunday is an indirect celebration of the resurrection of Christ, who arose on the first day of the week (Luke 24:1).
Passages like Colossians 2:16, 1 Corinthians 10:23–33, and Romans 14 are instructive in discerning whether we should celebrate Easter and how to go about doing so. These passages indicate that Christians have great freedom in questionable matters, such as observing certain holy days or eating different foods. First Corinthians 10:23–24 says, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” Paul was writing here specifically about eating food sacrificed to idols. He went on to say that believers could eat whatever was sold in the market or given to them by an unbeliever without “raising questions of conscience.” The principle is that “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (1 Corinthians 10:26). Paul concludes, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:31–33).
Christians should celebrate Easter to the extent that they can do so to the glory of God and with thankfulness (1 Corinthians 10:30–33). Those who are convinced that Easter is a celebration of a pagan goddess or that it somehow honors the idols of a godless society should abstain from Easter observances. Those who feel free to celebrate Easter but whose observance of it might cause a problem for another believer should not flaunt their freedom. If certain Easter traditions would cause a Christian to compromise biblical truth, then those traditions should be neglected. However, when participation in Easter traditions and Easter celebrations give us cause to praise God, we should feel free to fully enjoy them and invite others to do the same.
No matter how we personally observe or don’t observe Easter, it does seem to be a particularly good time to share the gospel with others. Society at large acknowledges Easter in one way or another. Even those who focus primarily on secular traditions like the Easter bunny, colored eggs, and chocolate tend to recognize the holiday is related to Christianity. Christians can use that awareness as an opening to explain who Jesus is, the importance of His death, and the good news of His resurrection. Easter comes in the springtime, and much of the excitement around Easter has to do with the excitement of spring with its promise of new growth. How amazing to be able to share with others that what is observed on Easter is so much more. It’s not simply the changing of a season but a celebration of the way Jesus changed the world. He offers us new and eternal life. At Easter, Christians can enjoy celebrating that reality in a focused way with one another, and we can and should share that amazing news with any who will listen.