Easter - Non-observing Christian Groups

Non-observing Christian Groups

Along with Christmas celebrations, many Easter traditions ultimately became casualties of the various offshoots of the Protestant Reformation, being deemed "pagan" or "Popish" (and therefore tainted) by many Puritan movements – although there were some major Reformation Churches and movements (Lutheran, Methodist and Anglican for example), that chose to retain a reasonably full observance of the Church Year and many of its associated traditions. In Lutheran Churches, for example, not only were the days of Holy Week observed, but also Christmas, Easter and Pentecost were observed with three-day festivals (the day itself and the two following).

Among many other Reformation and counter Counter-Reformation traditions, however, things were very different, with most Anabaptists, Quakers, Congregational and Presbyterian Puritans, regarding such festivals as an abomination. The Puritan rejection of Easter traditions was (and is) based partly upon their interpretation of 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 and partly upon a more general belief that if a religious practice or celebration is not actually written in the Old and/or New Testaments of the Christian Bible then that practice/celebration must be a later development and cannot be considered an authentic part of Christian practice or belief - so at best simply unnecessary, at worst actually sinful.

Some Christian groups continue to reject the celebration of Easter due to perceived pagan roots and historical connections to the practices and permissions of the "Roman" Catholic Church. Other "Nonconformist" Christian groups that do still celebrate the event prefer to call it "Resurrection Sunday" or "Resurrection Day", for the same reasons as well as a rejection of secular or commercial aspects of the holiday in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The Jehovah's Witnesses maintain a similar view, observing a yearly commemorative service of the Last Supper and subsequent execution of Christ on the evening of Nisan 14 (as they calculate the dates derived from the lunar Hebrew Calendar). It is commonly referred to by many Witnesses as simply "The Memorial". Jehovah's Witnesses believe that such verses as Luke 22:19-20 and 1 Cor 11:26 constitute a commandment to remember the death of Christ though not the resurrection (as only the remembrance of His death was observed by early Christians), and they do so on a yearly basis just as Passover is celebrated annually by the Jews.

Members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), as part of their historic testimony against times and seasons, do not celebrate or observe Easter or any other Church holidays, believing instead that "every day is the Lord's day", and that elevation of one day above others suggests that it is acceptable to do un-Christian acts on other days. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Quakers were persecuted for this non-observance of Holy Days.

Some Christian groups feel that Easter is something to be regarded with great joy: not marking the day itself, but remembering and rejoicing in the event it commemorates—the miracle of Christ's resurrection. In this spirit, these Christians teach that each day and all Sabbaths should be kept holy, in Christ's teachings. Hebrew-Christian, Sacred Name, and Armstrong movement churches (such as the Living Church of God) usually reject Easter in favor of Nisan 14 observance and celebration of the Christian Passover. This is especially true of Christian groups that celebrate the New Moons or annual High Sabbaths in addition to seventh-day Sabbath. They support this textually with reference to the letter to the Colossians: "Let no one...pass judgment on you in matters of food and drink or with regard to a festival or new moon or sabbath. These are shadows of things to come; the reality belongs to Christ." (Col. 2:16–17, NAB)

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