I initially wanted to write a short and simple post on Shrove Tuesday…. that went left quickly. This is probably my longest post thus far. Whilst researching I uncovered a lot more than anticipated and decided to share it all with you. It is absolutely mindblowing just how many of these so called religious holidays are actually man made and have their roots firmly planted in pagan tradition.
Shrove derives from the verb shrive meaning to go to confession and be absolved of sin. Although over the years Shrove Tuesday has come to mean a day of feasting and getting rid of all the rich ingredients I.e. eggs, sugar, leavened flour etc., in preparation for fasting in lent. It is also known as pancake day by the English (as they used up all the rich ingredients by making pancakes) and Madi Gras (which literally means Fat Tuesday) by the French. However, did you know that the bible does not even mention Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday or Lent. Furthermore, the world encyclopedia states that Mardi Gras “is a lively, colorful [not to mention bawdy and debased] celebration held on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins… it goes back to an ancient Roman custom of merrymaking before a period of fast”. Some have even linked the origins of lent back to the pagans weeping for their god Tammuz (this will be discussed in more detail below). The pagan Romans again. So much influence.
Lent derives from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘lencten’ which means spring. Lent was never observed by Jesus or his disciples. Nowhere in the Bible is Lent mentioned. Lent as we know it today was created by 4th century Catholics who claimed that it was a way of reminding themselves of the virtues of penance and discipline in honor of the forty days of Christ’s temptation. It is used as a tool for fasting from sin, forsaking sin and sinful ways. They argue that fasting and employing self-discipline during Lent will give you control over oneself which is needed in order to purify your mind and renew life. However, fasting of and by itself cannot produce Godly self-control. The scriptures show that self-control comes from having God’s holy spirit working in the life of a converted mind. Fasting of and by itself cannot produce Godly self-control. Furthermore, the apostle Paul gives a clear warning against using self-denial as a tool to rely on our own will. He called this ‘will worship’. In his letter to the Colossians 2:20-23 he states:
“You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world, so why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’. These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use are based merely on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence”.
I do not believe that God designed fasting as a tool for penance, developing will power or beating yourself up. Isiah 58: 1-7 addresses ‘True fasting’, the people lament that they fast yet the Lord does not recognize it and he replies,
“Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loosen the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke and set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood”.
Thus, when we fast it is supposed to be used as way of humbling ourselves in order to be closer to God, to help us to learn to act and think like him, not to be used as self-denial, will worship, or penance. Okay, let’s say you give up eating chocolate or swearing but you turn a blind eye to your fellow man in need. You ignore those that are oppressed, you refuse to share your food, you spew hurtful words at your neighbour etc. Is that fasting? How can you be fasting yet be ignorant of helping your fellow man? That is just will worship as Paul said. True fasting is not penance or self-denial. True fasting helps us to be more Christ like.
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight” Jeremiah 9: 23-24
The bible teaches us about self-examination and fasting. However it does not mention the 40-day Lent. Neither does it mention the marking of one’s head with ash. There are no mentions of Easter bar one passage which will be discussed further below. These inherently pagan customs have been revamped and infused with Christian traditions.
Alexander Hislop, in his book ‘The Two Babylons’, explains that,
“the forty days abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess. Such a Lent of forty days, ‘in the spring of the year,’ is still observed by the Yezidis or Pagan Devil-worshippers of Koordistan, who have inherited it from their early masters, the Babylonians. Such a Lent of forty days was held in spring by the Pagan Mexicans… ‘Three days after the vernal equinox…began a solemn fast of forty days in honour of the sun.’ Such a Lent of forty days was observed in Egypt…Among the Pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz, which was celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing, and which, in many countries, was considerably later than the Christian festival, being observed in Palestine and Assyria in June, therefore called the ‘month of Tammuz’; in Egypt, about the middle of May, and in Britain, sometime in April. To conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgamated, and, by a complicated but skillful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity—now far sunk in idolatry—in this as in so many other things, to shake hands”.
Now I don’t necessarily agree with all of Alexander Hislop’s view point in other issues, but all of the above are facts. The pagans did hold a celebration to indulge in all their excess the day before giving up their personal sin and vices in preparation for their lent; which was forty days of weeping and celebration of their god Tammuz. A long time before Christians started the observance of Shrove Tuesday and Lent. Again, pagans set precedent. Just like with Christmas( see…AND SO IT BEGINS), just like with St. Valentine’s day(see Valentines day Apathy) and just like with Sunday worship. The pagan practice of weeping for Tammuz is mentioned in the book of Ezekiel 8:14 where the lord shows Ezekiel all the abominable things that were happening in the temple…the leaders showed no social responsibility towards their people and congregation. They led the society falsely and then have the audacity to return to the temple and practice their paganism in the dark. I believe that it could also be interpreted that these people are weeping for Tammuz in the temple without even realising they are doing so, in their hearts they feel they are worshipping God but are truly not. They have been led astray. Additionally, it is important to note that in Ezekiel when God shows him the detestable things occurring in the church and commands for those partaking in these atrocities in Jerusalem to be killed, he tells them to start in his sanctuary…the church.
“‘Walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of all who weep and sigh because of the detestable sins being committed in their city…Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all—old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin right here at my sanctuary’ So they began by killing the seventy leaders” Ezekiel 9:5-8
A clear indication that he is fully aware of the wrong practices occurring in the church and that there will be repercussions for it. No matter how many times or how thoroughly Moses and the prophets warned against idolatry; worshipping other gods and worshipping the true God in the same way the heathens worshipped their gods, people still refused to take heed to the warnings and instead did exactly what they were asked not to do. They even go as far as to practice these things within the sacred temple. “Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the Lord, which he had consecrated in Jerusalem” 2 Chronicles 36:14
Easter is arguably one of the most important Christian holiday in the church today. Christians believe that Easter celebrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead after his death on good Friday. This is celebrated around Spring equinox, which is historically the time that pagans celebrate the Ostara festival. This symbolizes the arrival of spring and signifies the rebirth of their goddess Ēostre. Consider that the name Easter itself is derived from Ēostre (Anglo Saxon/ Germanic goddess of fertility) or Ishtar the ancient Babylonian fertility goddess and Tammuz’s mother. She was a fertility goddess and our name for the female hormone ‘estrogen’ derives from her name. Ēostre, they claimed brought new life and was responsible for the flowering of plants and the birth of babies; both human and animal. The rabbit which is well known for its tendency to reproduce quickly was her sacred animal.
So called Easter eggs and Easter bunnies were strong features of the pagan spring festival of Ostara, which were held during the feasts of Ishtar. The eggs were an obvious symbol of fertility and the newborn chicks a symbol of growth. Brightly coloured eggs, bunnies and chicks were all used at festival time and given as gifts to show appreciation for the goddess’s gift of abundance. Even the popular Easter egg hunt that so many participate in stemmed from pagan times. Apparently during the ‘burning era’ (witch hunting and burning at the stake) in Europe, when Christianity was becoming more popular and people were beginning to shun paganism. Instead of giving these eggs as gifts the adults created a game where they would hide the eggs and then tell the children to gather and find them. The authorities at the time seeking to weed out ‘heathens’ would bribe the children to show them where the eggs where found so that they could persecute the property owner. Easter essentially originated as a pagan festival. Nowadays some churches even offer early sunrise services at Easter. Sounds a lot like a pagan solar celebration to me. To add insult to injury the date of Easter is decided by the phases of the moon. Pagan…or nah?
Some argue that the word Easter is in fact mentioned in the bible in Acts 12:4. The only version of the bible that uses the word Easter is the King James Bible. Every other bible translates the word as ‘Passover’. There are two theories for this. The Greek word that is translated as ‘Easter’ is ‘Pascha’. It appears in the New testament 29 times and 28 of those times it is in reference to the Passover thus some feel that the one time it is translated as Easter in Act 12:4 by the KJV bible is a mistranslation. Others argue that in fact, Jeremiah 7:18 makes reference to the pagan Ishtar practices “…the women knead the dough and makes cakes to offer to the queen of heaven. They pour out drink offerings to other gods to arouse my anger”. Jeremiah 44:16-17 also mentions her. The goddess Ishtar was referred to as the queen of heaven in the bible. The rituals of weeping for Tammuz, the goddess Ishtar’s son/husband, along with making cakes as offerings and a few other rituals would take place on sunrise Easter morning. Thus, claiming that the true Easter as practiced by the pagans and mentioned in KJV’s Acts 12:4 is not a mistranslation but in fact illustrates the pagan practice and never had any association with Christ.
The early church attempted to put a stop to the baking of aforementioned sacred cakes being baked at Easter initially. However, in true roman fashion they gave up and gave their blessings instead. Many people today eat ‘Simnel cake’ at Easter, eat chocolate bunnies/eggs, have cuddly chicks and participate in Easter egg hunts whilst having no idea where these things originated from. As aforementioned, these are all dedicated to the goddess Ishtar/Ēostre. The goddess is represented by gifts and images associated with the new light of birth, such as eggs, rabbits and sweets. These pagan symbols were so popular that the Catholic Church adopted them and created their ‘Easter’ celebrations in an attempt to sway pagans over to Christianity. Again, another senseless syncretism of Christianity with paganism. Why choose to observe the resurrection of the Messiah during the exact same time and with the same symbolisms the pagans used? Coincidence? I think not. More like good old double dipping. Alexander Hislop in his book The Two Babylons observes that,
“The festival of which we read in church history, under the name of Easter, in the third and fourth centuries, was quite a different festival from that now observed in the Romish church, and at that time was not known by any such name as Easter…that festival (Passover) was not idolatrous, and it was preceded by no lent. Lent was not observed by the first century church. It was first addressed by the church at Rome during the council of Nicea in 325 A.D., when emperor Constantine officially recognized that church as the Roman Empires state religion. Any other form of Christianity that held to doctrines contrary to the Roman Catholic church was considered as an enemy of state”.
Good old Constantine infusing his pagan traditions with the church again. The church was doing just fine before he came along. When I initially decided to write this post, it was not going to be from this angle. It was just going to inform people that of course these observances were never mentioned in the bible but that doesn’t stop us from eating pancakes. And if you feel like observing the Lenten period brings you closer to God then by all means do so. I had no idea of the pagan link to them. To be honest I was upset when I researched and found out some of these things. It was truly overwhelming how much worship of Yahweh has been tarnished. I wanted to stop reading, but I asked for knowledge and he is constantly showing me.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” Hosea 4:6.
I cannot turn my back on the knowledge that I asked for now. Up until three months ago I was a practicing devoted Catholic. I observed shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Lent and all the other so called holy days with all my heart. However I started to discover things that rocked my faith in the Catholic Church to its core and I had to leave. I know it is the best decision and I’ve never looked back (the reasons as to why I left will be discussed in an upcoming blog post). I am learning to retrain my mind on all the things I thought I knew with regards to religion and the way we worship. I am still unsure of a lot however like David said in Psalm 119:104 “Through your percepts I gain understanding; therefore I hate every false way”. I will always choose to seek truth #becauseknowledgeofselfisnirvana, I refuse to be complacent or nonchalantly let traditions of man mislead me “because greater is he that is in me, than he that is in the world”.
I’m of the belief that if it wasn’t mentioned in the bible then it is just another man-made tradition that I have no business participating in. The consequences of not observing Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Lent and Easter; these things that are not mentioned in the bible, are nothing compared to the repercussions one would face for blindly engaging in pagan traditions disguised as Christian traditions. The road to hell they say, is paved with good intention. Thus, if it’s not in the bible, I’ll pass. God hates all pagan traditions; they cannot be ‘Christianised’ or made clean by men. Men do not hold that kind of authority.
As mentioned earlier, fasting is mentioned in the bible but the actual period of lent is not. Now, if as a Christian you feel like lent brings you closer to God I cannot judge. Just note that although Lent may seem like a sincere, genuine, religious observance it is deeply rooted in pagan traditions and there are no biblical requirements of Christians to observe this period of lent. Also, bear in mind Yahweh said “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it” Deuteronomy 12:32
P.S. As always, I’m open to thoughts, opinions and different viewpoints. If you find fault in what I am saying, please do not hesitate to let me know. Provided it can be backed up; I am all ears.