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Yes, Adventists do celebrate Easter in the same way most Protestant churches would but it looks different from other protestant in how it is celebrated. Friday is still Good Friday, but the Resurrection of Christ is recognized at church service on Sabbath (Saturday), instead of Sunday. Some Adventists may do other further “celebrating” of Easter like egg hunts and Easter baskets, but not all. 

Historically: What happened?

Although the birth, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to the faith of all Christian denominations, not all Christian denominations practice traditional Christian holidays in the same manner. Many Christians and non-believers ask, “do Adventists celebrate Easter?” The answer is that most Seventh-day Adventists typically do not celebrate Easter. There are two basic reasons underlying this concept, one cultural and the other theological.

Culturally speaking, the ancient Saxon tribes of northern Europe practiced a holiday they referred to as Eostre. This was in honor of the Germanic goddess of spring Eastra. For many ancient religions and cultures, spring is symbolic of rebirth, and in the case of Eostre, rabbits and hares were typical imagery of rebirth. 

By the middle of the 8th century, the Catholic church was firmly established in England as these were some of the first Saxon tribes to convert to Christianity. By this time, Easter as we know it today was already a cultural norm. It is not a stretch to assume that ancient missionaries drew parallels from biblical theology to pagan beliefs and traditions in order to make new converts.

 Of course, early Catholic leadership would have administered over important cultural holidays to ensure they were practiced “properly.” It would appear that the Catholic church culturally assimilated a pagan holiday and Christianized it.

Now theologically speaking, and this is a more important reason for Seventh-day Adventists, there is no mention of the word Easter in the Greek new testament, nor its relation as a holiday to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. For Adventists, Easter, the holiday and the resurrection of Christ are two different things. 

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Aside from being baptized, there are no scriptural commands or doctrines in the Bible about how to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus. The Adventist argument would be that since Easter is not mentioned in the Bible, it is a cultural tradition and not a spiritual practice. As a result, some Adventists do not practice Easter, while most will do in the same sense as most other protestant churches. .

What Other Religions Believe About Easter

But this puts Seventh-day Adventists in the minority when compared to other Christian denominations. Arguably, for most Christians, Easter remains the most important day of the Christian calendar. For Catholics, Easter is very much part and parcel of the passion of Christ. The passion refers to the physical torture Christ endured before and during his crucifixion.

 After all, the Catholic cross displays Christ as he was crucified. The great many Protestant denominations, however, do not fixate nor display the passion like the Catholic church. Protestants do not downplay the passion, but focus on how Christ was resurrected, conquering death itself. For them, the resurrection is the most fundamental part of Easter because it truly confirmed that Jesus was who He claimed to be.

Of course, a prudent observer may ask, “well Christmas also has pagan roots. Do Adventists celebrate Christmas?” This question is answered by Ted N.C. Wilson, the current president of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

 He states, “[a]s a church, we don’t have an official statement or position on celebrating Christmas, leaving it instead to the individual” In the same article, he goes on to quote Ellen G. White, considered by some to be a prophet in early Adventist church [“Letters of inquiry have come to us asking, Shall we have a Christmas tree? Will it not be like the world? 

We answer, You can make it like the world if you have a disposition to do so, or you can make it as unlike the world as possible. There is no particular sin in selecting a fragrant evergreen and placing it in our churches, but the sin lies in the motive which prompts to action and the use which is made of the gifts placed upon the tree.”].

Do Adventists tell their children about the Easter Bunny?

Adventists would tell their children that the Easter Bunny is a fictional character. They may buy things that have the the Easter Bunny on it, or they will not partake in the commercialism of the Easter holiday. It will depend on the individuals and parents how they would decide to talk about, include or exclude the Easter bunny.

Do Adventists Drink Wine on Easter?

No, Adventists who are strict to following the fundamental beliefs will always abstain from any alcohol use. The Bible says to abstain from alcohol, because it can cloud judgement.

Is it okay to give an Adventist an Easter Basket?

Yes! Gift giving is always great. Who doesn’t love and appreciate a good gift?

Why Adventists Celebrate Easter

Ellen. G. White’s argument can be simplified as participating in Christmas is not wrong, when those actions come from a place of virtue. Seventh-day Adventists treat the Easter season in a similar vein. Easter may not be “celebrated” in the traditional sense of the word, but it is still a time of ministry and to evangelize to others.

 At this time of year, Seventh-day Adventists show the world the hope of the resurrection. There is a growing number of Seventh-day Adventist churches that are starting to hold Easter celebrations such as plays, musicals, and visual narrative scenes. 

For these churches, putting on a production of the passion that is entirely based on biblical scripture has no pagan roots. They argue that since the whole Easter story is the crux of all Christianity, why would you not celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior? This still remains a controversial topic within the Adventist church.

Do Adventists Partake In Communion? What is it?

All Christian denominations participate in communion, yet not all do it in the same way, nor do they even hold the same theological underpinnings. At the last supper, Jesus and his disciples partook in communion. Luke 22:19-20 says “…he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. 

Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” This is significant because Jesus was referencing to his disciples was inevitably to come, his crucifixion. That this would be the last time they would all fellowship together.

Albeit, the last supper wasn’t simply another meal, but the Jewish holiday of Passover. Like with all holidays, Passover had its own customary traditions that needed to be practiced within the homes celebrating it. One of these traditions was the washing of feet of those partaking in the Passover meal. 

Given the dusty clime and a fashion culture that only afforded sandals, foot washing was a humbling experience. Yet none of the disciples were willing to wash their brothers’ feet. So Christ took it upon himself to wash his disciples feet in accordance of Passover.

Unlike most Christian denominations, the Seventh-day Adventist church practices the Ordinance of Foot Washing the night before, or at least prior, partaking in communion. This of course is because Christians should be humble themselves, but also so that they may prostrate themselves before God. 

After such a time, one is spiritually and emotionally ready to receive the body and blood of Christ. But what does communion really represent? Before the death of Christ, God required ritual blood sacrifice to cleanse the Israelites of their sins. But since Christ was without sin, he was the “perfect” sacrifice and after his crucifixion, God no longer required animal sacrifice because there would be no greater sacrifice greater than Jesus. Communion represents the extent of Christ’s love of humanity and his power to cleanse us of sin forever.

What is the Seventh-day Sabbath

However, given that Easter does not play the same theological role in the Seventh-day church as with other Christian denominations, Seventh-day churches have their sermons and church services on Saturday. Sunday plays more important to Christian denominations that practice Easter, after all, Sunday was the day that Christ was resurrected. 

But in the Jewish calendar, Saturday is the last day of the week, the Sabbath. When God gave Moses the ten commandments, the fourth commandment was, “[r]emember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work…” (Exodus 20:8).

Although many specific doctrines in the old testament were exclusively for the Israelites, the Sabbath itself is not specifically declared by God to be exclusive to the Jew. As such, since there is no specific importance given to the day of Sunday in the Bible, Adventists have no reason to treat it as the Sabbath instead of Saturday. 

What is important to note, is how Jesus differed from his religious contemporaries in the application of the Sabbath. In Luke 13;13-14, “[t]hen He laid His hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and began to glorify God. But the synagogue leader was indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.””

 The Jewish leadership at the time took the “you shall do no work” quite literally, something that even some orthodox Jews still practice today. Doing good deeds should never take a day off, so following the example of Christ, Seventh-day Adventists believe in doing no secular work on Saturday. This means in practical terms, not doing work for monetary benefit, but working to benefit others.

What Does the Bible Say About Celebrating Holidays

What is clear in the Bible, is that the Sabbath is to be practiced on Saturday, however was is not clear is the observance of other holidays. For example, God commanded the ancient Israelites to celebrate the first of every month, “in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God.” (Numbers 10:10). 

Considering that the Israelites used a lunar calendar to track months, this was in fact a lunar festival. Yet there are no Christian denominations that practice lunar festivals. In fact, the whole concept of lunar festivals has a heathen taste in the Western mouth. But yet there is no culture that has ever existed that does not have holidays.

So what is one to do? One extreme would be to never practice any holidays. Jeremiah 10:1-2 says, “[h]ear the word that the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus says the Lord: “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are vanity.” 

If this were applied to a non-religious holiday like Independence Day in America, would Christ not condone celebrating the birth of a nation and succession from the British empire? Independence Day festivities such as air shows are showcases of American military vanity, but America the nation was the fertile ground which the Seventh-day church arose.

Conversely, and adding to the conundrum, Romans 14:5-6 says, “[o]ne person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.” 

However, does this apply to a secular holiday like Halloween? After all this is a holiday that is about gluttony for children and debauchery for adults. No Christian would claim I am eating all this candy in honor of God.

What About Other Holidays?

Referring back to Ellen G White’s comments on the use of Christmas trees, participation in religious and secular holidays starts with why you are participating in the first place. One makes a conscious choice about why and how events are celebrated and whether you choose to be like the world or unlike the world. 

Seventh-day Adventists choose not to observe Easter to the same level (as it being a huge focus of the calendar year like other Protestant churches) because God has not commanded the church to do so. Although the Bible does not specifically say holidays like Easter are wrong either, Adventists are choosing to be unlike other Christian denominations because of the pagan roots of Easter. 

Despite some of their doctrinal differences, both Adventists and other true Christian believers continue to strive to be more like Christ in their walk with God and be a light in the world. Thus, making any holiday celebration up to individuals what that exactly entails. 

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