Easter is well-documented to have been influenced by the pre-Christian religions of Europe and the Middle East, but what about Good Friday? Learn about what sort of influence ancient civilizations and their religions had on the day Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Christ here.
It's important to note that the Easter season is celebrated in the spring, a particularly important time for early humans because of the spring equinox. In 2018, the spring equinox occurred at 12:15 p.m. EDT on March 20 in the northern hemisphere. During this time, the sun moved directly over the earth's equator and signaled the first day of the astronomical spring, versus the meteorological spring. These are the two ways to measure the seasons: the astronomical way reflects natural phenomena to mark time, while the meteorological way is based on the annual temperature cycle as well as our 12-month calendar.
Most modern holidays are derived from ancient holidays celebrated by pagans before the advent of Christianity. Does Thanksgiving have pagan roots, too?
Thanksgiving is not directly correlated with pagan holidays like the recently passed Halloween, or even the upcoming Christmas. Samhain (pronounced SAH-win) is an ancient Gaelic festival that inspired the modern Halloween. Samhain marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It begins at sunset on October and goes until sunset on November 1. Because of this and its related feasts, it is sometimes described as the Celtic New Year. The calendar of the Celtic League begins and ends on Samhain. Christmas, too, is a combination of many ancient festivals, all focused on the winter solstice and the "rebirth of the sun."