A story is told about a man, his wife, and their three children. They were a poor family who lived on a small piece of land and had two goats. Since their land wasn’t big enough to have a goat shed, they shared their small house with the goats at night. The man grew tired of living in poverty and decided that he had to do something. Being as poor as he was, he didn’t have many options so he turned to prayer. He and his wife agreed that they would pray together every night when their children went to sleep. They didn’t want to disturb their children’s sleep but since there wasn’t a lot of room they had to get creative. The man fashioned a small section between the rafters and the iron sheet roof where he’d tie up the goats to create space. He and his wife would then kneel down together and pray. They did this every single night. Soon, even their children joined in and it became a tradition.
Several generations later, the family’s descendants were wealthy and they did not rear goats anymore. However, they still kept the tradition of praying together. Every time they got together at family gatherings, they would find two goats, tie them up between the rafters and the roof, and get together to pray. Since they didn’t rear goats, they sometimes had to go out of their way to find them. It was a tradition that had been passed down so they believed that their prayers would not be answered unless they followed every step precisely. It’s clear they didn’t know the reason for the “goats” part of the tradition and, sadly, they never asked.
I know what you’re thinking; they didn’t even need to ask, right? It’s just a matter of common sense. Obviously, a goat has nothing to do with your prayers being answered. Unfortunately, this is the way it is with traditions. We do certain things a certain way because this is how it has been “all along”. We rarely question where traditions come from. When children ask ”why?” “It’s our tradition” is expected to be an acceptable answer. There’s a Kiswahili saying: “Mwacha mila ni mtumwa.” Translated, “One who leaves his/her traditions is a slave.” Traditions are considered unquestionable and if you question or reject them then you are looked down upon and ridiculed.
Being a Christian, there are many traditions that, I’ve found, come with the territory. In this case, they’re labeled as “religious beliefs” or “doctrine”. Many of them come directly from the Bible, which comes directly from God. Unfortunately, there are many that don’t really come from the Bible but have been intertwined with other traditions from the “world”. Since these have been within Christianity for so long, they have become a bit difficult to distinguish. For example, I used to think that the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” was actually in the Bible. One time I was in the car with my parents and I used this phrase to support my argument in a discussion we were having. We almost crashed because how fast my dad turned around to correct me.
Through the years, I have learned that there are many ideas and traditions that seem good but unfortunately go against what the Bible actually teaches. I have thus learned to be more diligent about questioning doctrine and religious beliefs. This is why I’m writing this post. I was in a class at Bible School a while ago and during one of the lessons, the topic of Easter came up. Our teacher explained that she did not acknowledge “Easter Sunday” but instead preferred to call it “Resurrection Sunday”. She explained how the name “Easter” came from a pagan goddess called “Ishtar”. This goddess was believed to be the goddess of fertility and during springtime, her followers would make sacrifices to her so their lands would be fertile that year. The rituals associated with the celebrations involved the sacrifice of babies and rabbits, dipping eggs in blood, among other things.
Hearing this, I was honestly shocked. I couldn’t believe that I’d never heard this before. I had always wondered where the name “Easter” had come from, and I was confused about the Easter Bunny and egg hunts. I decided it was time to do some research of my own. I found different articles online that talk about different origins of Easter rituals and they basically revolve around the same premise. I also found numerous other articles on arguments that manage to “Christianize” many of these traditions/rituals.
After a lot reading and getting more confused, I finally came to the conclusion that, due to the questionability of the traditions associated with it, it would be better to stop celebrating Easter all together. Unfortunately, there was still a dilemma. See many Christians have said, and even I have believed, that Easter is the most important Christian Holiday. The argument is that Easter is when we remember the most important thing that God did for the human race. I completely agree with the importance of Christ’s sacrifice. It is, pretty much, the foundation of Christianity and remembering it is extremely important. To settle my dilemma, I went to the Bible. I found that the answer is quite straightforward.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NKJV)
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
(See Also: Matt. 26:26–28; Mark 14:22–24; Luke 22:17–20)
Based on these scriptures, I am content with simply obeying Christ’s command to remember His death and resurrection by partaking in the Lord’s Supper. I don’t even have to wait to do this once a year; I can do it every day, even multiple times a day (v25…as often as you do…). For me this sits much better than being conflicted about the mix of good & bad traditions and rituals associated with the celebration of Easter.
That said, I would like to know what you think. Have you heard about the origins of Easter? Let me know in the comments. Thank you for reading!
4 thoughts on “Of Traditions and Religion”
I think my biggest dilemma with Easter was how the date was chosen, never even thought of the name Easter…that settles it for me then…I have always been drawn to how significant the Lords supper is to who I am as a believer and I have always thought it doesn’t necessarily have to be done in church for it to be the Lords supper…this reaffirms my convictions
Thanks for reading Sis. There’sso much I’ve beenlearning about the Lord’s Supper… The reason for the date is because it corresponds to Passover… As you know, Jesus was crucified during pass over… It changes every year because our current calendar is not the same as it was then and so the date is chosen based in the moon cycle…
Never thought about it. Thanks 4 sharing!
Wow that’s opens up my mind. Never thought about it that way.