42 Comments

Why don’t Mormons Celebrate Easter?

Ok, I thought that would get your attention. Let’s talk semantics for a minute. I will agree that mormons “observe” Easter, but we don’t “celebrate” Easter. Certainly we believe in the resurrection. However, in comparison to other Christian denominations, mormon celebration is a yawner. There is no Easter fireside by the first presidency. Congregation celebrations depend solely on the bishop. Some wards have nice Easter services, while others barely mention it. Shouldn’t there be more celebration of Easter?

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42 comments on “Why don’t Mormons Celebrate Easter?

  1. Mormons and celebration are almost oxymorons, are they not? It seems to me we ‘observe’, more than ‘celebrate’, even religious holidays that fall on Sunday.

  2. I agree completely. I must say that Jews really know how to celebrate. I attended Passover with a Jewish family in college, and it was really fun!

    With the celebrated history of Brigham Young’s dances, I’m not sure why celebrations are frowned upon now. We’re not supposed to celebrate baptisms, priesthood ordinations, missionary farewells anymore….Why all the killjoy?

    Men are that they might have joy. (Just don’t celebrate?)

    Psalm 33:3 “Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.” I don’t think we’re following this scripture.

  3. I myself didn’t understand this. It seemed like any other Sunday in church this Easter. Girls didn’t wear special “Easter” dresses, and the talk wasn’t even ABOUT Easter! Once again, it was someone crying and bearing their testimony. Ugh! I am so bored with it already!

    However, my ward’s futile attempts at an Easter picnic on Saturday were admirable but dissapointing. The food ran out and I was bored. So, I guess we aren’t party hardy when it comes to holidays.

  4. April, my daughter did have an Easter dress on, and there was a little mention of Easter, but it was a yawner again.

    My real question is why do you think the church discourages these celebrations? I wish I had an answer, but I’m wondering what people speculate the answer to be.

    If I had to speculate, I guess that the GA’s don’t want celebrations to go overboard, but my experience is that Easter celebrations are very pale. I just don’t get it. Is celebrating a sin?

    Mormons don’t have a prohibition on celebrations, and I haven’t heard any talks about reasons not to celebrate Easter, but it seems to me more Mormons talk about the Easter Bunny than the resurrection. Shouldn’t this be a concern to the GA’s?

  5. I think there is this notion/practice in Mormon culture that a celebration is sort of a slightly tawdry version of observance. Observance is dignified and appropriate and reverent while celebration is a little to close to frivolity and lightheartedness. I personally think Mormon services could use a little more celebrating and a little less appropriateness on all Sundays let alone Easter Sunday.

  6. Good observation–except for the fact that there are plenty of inappropriate celebrations at a Cougar football or basketball game. (Sometimes it can be downright nasty.)

    Easter seems to be extremely unimportant in mormon culture. It seems (to me) to be to be inappropriately unimportant.

  7. Mormon Heretic – Inappropriately unimportant…very well put.

    The same can be said for Christmas, at least in my case.

    I think it might have something to do with the fact that in other Christian churches, people tend to JUST go on Easter and Christmas. It’s more of an “event” and those who don’t go to church regularly find it a bigger deal than we do. I know this because I wasn’t raised Mormon, I was raised Baptist. We would only go to church on Easter and Christmas Eve and it was a huge deal. Now it’s not as glorified because we spend 3 hours in church every Sunday. Maybe we celebrate enough/too much! (By comparison) Three hours of church is a lot compared to other churches. Maybe we are burnt out? I’m not saying at all that I don’t like our time devotion to God – I am just saying that might have something to do with it.

  8. April–thanks for your insights. I have a question for you. Even though you grew up as an “inactive” baptist, I would guess that you probably did attend a baptist church on a day other than Easter or Christmas. Can you talk about your experience a little?

    What I am wondering is this. A normal Sunday might have seemed “boring” because there was no holiday associated. Even still, I would suspect that the pastor probably put more time, effort, and emphasis in his Easter and Christmas services than on a “normal” Sunday. I would expect that “active” baptists would notice that the sermons were more extravagant than typical services. Perhaps I am wrong.

    I guess what bugs me about Easter Services at Mormon Churches is that there is absolutely nothing special about them. Sure, I’ve attended wards that had a special program, but this is the exception rather than the rule. I believe that protestant or catholic services genuinely make Easter and Christmas services special, not routine. Too often, mormon services are just routine. Am I wrong in this analysis?

  9. Do you think perhaps we tone down common celebratory holidays like Easter and Christmas because we have to share them?

    It occurs to me that the one event Mormons truly bill as a celebration is Pioneer Day — the 24th of July. And it even gets multiple days – you know, Days of 47. And it is a celebration that is unique to Mormons. For the Church as an institution, Pioneer Day gives a relatively benign way to differentiate ourselves from others. Maybe that’s we sink our teeth into it and are rather low key about others.

  10. I am a big Easter fan, and have often wondered why it seems to get short shrift in Mormondom. I was a missionary in a very Catholic country where Easter was HUGE. But, its hugeness involved a very heavy emphasis upon Christ’s physical suffering and crucifixion. It resulted in highly emotional displays of grief, self-flagellation, drummers in hooded masks, graphic reenactments of the crucifixion – – the whole deal. To an outsider, I have to say, it appeared a little extreme.

    I have often wondered if the LDS Church was wary of allowing big Easter celebrations because they wanted to distinguish themselves from other churches, and wanted to avoid undue emphasis on the more gory aspects of Christ’s suffering. I think the Church has shown a suspicion of perceived “extreme behavior” in many areas. And we have all heard that we Mormons like to focus on the risen Christ, not suffering/dying One.

    Don’t get me wrong – – if those are the reasons, I think the Mormon pendulum has swung too far, and would welcome more emphasis on Christ’s passion and resurrection during Holy Week (a term we do not use). And I think we all take Christ’s suffering too lightly. I just wonder if our tame (to the point of non-existence) Easters aren’t people taking a good motivation too far.

  11. Sanford–interesting premise, and thanks for reminding me about the 24th. There is always a Pioneer Days fireside here in Utah. Some wards acknowledge the holidays more than others. Outside of Utah (& perhaps Idaho), I don’t think most wards care about Pioneer Day.

    I don’t think mormons refuse to celebrate in order to be different, unless it is a subconscious thing. Perhaps it is simply because we have a lay ministry, and the bishop is too busy with his own life to think about having a special meeting on Easter. Still, I think the GA’s could emphasize it more. They’re the ones who put the Sunday School/Priesthood lessons schedules together, and I think it would be easy to insert Easter and Christmas lessons into the manual.

    I still don’t understand why the GA’s thought missionary farewells were overdone. Now they are as boring as any other meeting. I used to look forward to missionary farewells because they were generally more interesting meetings–more preparation. Yes they did go long sometimes, but it sure beats some of the Dry Council Sundays, teenager talks, and boring testimony meetings that we are frequently subjected to.

    What’s with the fascination with boredom? Weren’t Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and other church leaders very charismatic? There was speaking in Tongues, etc. If that happened today, I think the GA’s would frown on it.

    I agree with Fifthgen–we don’t want self-flaggellation, but Mormons are a long way from that. Easter is about the resurrection–the Good News. The Resurrection happening on the first day of the week was so revolutionary that Christians in the 1st century changed the sabbath from the 7th day to the 1st day to remember Lord Jesus (see Acts). Mormons essentially ignore this–I just don’t get it.

    I read on another blog that someone attends Easter services at another denomination before going to church. Perhaps we all should do it?

  12. I have seen reference on other blogs to alleged “correlated” Church efforts to discourage or prohibit Easter celebrations. Some talked of stake easter sunrise services that are no more. My grandfather was famous for the Easter Cantatas he conducted in Sacrament Meeting, but that was decades ago. Does anyone know anything about official church policy on Easter observance/celebration?

  13. I just Google’d the following text “official LDS church policy easter celebration” and the second link to come up was this:
    http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/?p=1668

    The woman who wrote this post lists 3 links to articles or talks found on the church’s website. The 3rd link is to this article: Daniel H. Ludlow, “The Greatest Week in History,” Ensign, Apr 1972. Did you catch that? 1972. Search the church’s website and good luck finding many references or articles from this century pertaining to Easter! Maybe the GA’s think there’s nothing new to say about Easter.

    I have also read that some Christian religions don’t celebrate ‘Easter’ because of its’ Pagan origins. They celebrate the resurrection but not the seasonal aspects of Easter. Here’s an interesting article along those lines; http://atheism.about.com/od/easterholidayseason/p/PaganChristian.htm

    MormonHeretic – You seem to find church services very dry and boring (not that I disagree). You also mention being ‘subjected ‘ to boring talks and boring testimony meetings. I challenge you to really look at why you go to church if you’re truly that bored? Or, could you consider looking at church as something you can make fun and interesting, rather than being a victim of boring church services. No disrespect meant here; just a challenge. I truly enjoy this blog.

  14. Raechel,

    Thanks for the links. At first I thought the links were to “official church policy easter celebration”, but it turns out to be just some Easter references. I did take up your challenge to find some Easter references in this century. (You have to do an advanced search, or it pulls up old articles.) Pres Hinckley talked about Easter at conference this time last year (I’m guessing Easter was in April last year.) Pres Hunter also did before he died in the late 90’s. There are plenty of Easter talks, so it’s not like it’s been 30 years since they talked about Easter.

    Anyway, to answer Fifthgen, I am not aware of any official church policy. I did find a reference to the Annual Easter Pageant at the Mesa, AZ temple, so that would indicate no specific policy, and even tacit approval for Easter celebrations. I am still curious why these celebrations are not more widespread.

    As for the Pagan origins–I think mainly Jehovah’s Witnesses are the ones with a hangup on that one. They believe all holidays, including birthdays are pagan. I expect that most other Christian religions don’t have a problem with Easter eggs, and other pagan practices. I found his reference to the Passover being in the Spring Equinox a little odd. Passover represents the Moses leading the escape of Israel from Egypt. The fact that it is in spring is coincidental, so I have a hard time believing the Jews did this for the spring equinox. Passover is usually in April, a month after spring equinox, so I don’t buy that argument.

    The dates of Easter move around so much is because it is always supposed to be near the Passover holiday. The Jews had a Lunar calendar (336 days), unlike our Solar Calendar (365.25 days). Because of this, they add leap months every 3, 7, 10 years (instead of leap days every 4 yrs) because the lunar calendar is much less accurate than our solar calendar. This is why it is so hard to figure out when Easter and Passover (and Hanukkah, and every other Jewish holiday) are supposed to be.

    As for why do I go to church? It’s simple–I go to partake of the sacrament. Some wards are more interesting than others, that’s for sure. My ward currently has so many noisy kids (including mine) that it is hard to concentrate. Sure, I grouse about listening to boring talks, and of course would prefer well-prepared ones, but that is not why I go. Partaking of the Lord’s Supper each week is the most important part of church.

    I remember on my mission finding that church was the least spiritual day of the week. I figured that I was praying 10 times a day, reading scriptures, doing missionary work, so of course each day was more uplifting than church. While I certainly don’t do all of that now, I do feel that my personal study is better than Sunday School. The sacrament is they whole reason we go to church. Sunday school, priesthood, Relief Society, etc is there to help us be good people. Also, it’s good for my kids to learn religious principles. So that’s why I go.

    Maybe I shouldn’t grouse about how boring some sacrament talks are, but if I didn’t they might get worse. 🙂 Anyway, I’ll try to be better.

  15. Mormon Heritic — I know we are discussing Easter but since you mentioned the sacrament, I would like to ask you a question if it isn’t too personal. What is it about the sacrament that keeps you going to Church?

  16. I enjoyed this post very much, Heretic, because now I know there are others out there who wonder why we don’t make more of a big deal about the biggest religious holidays. I always find it kind of embarrassing when people of other faiths or no faith, who know that I’m a Mormon, ask me what special things we do to celebrate Christmas or Easter and I have to try really hard to say something other than “uh… well, nothing really.” Kind of sad, really.

    A couple of years ago I was in Notre Dame in Paris on Easter Sunday. It was packed full of people, the air was hazy from all the burning essence and the organ created a very special atmosphere. I realize that duplicating the ambience of a Catholic mass in an LDS chapel is not really realistic, but it would be nice to sort of make a bigger deal out of these most important of holidays.

  17. Faithful Dissident–thanks for stopping by. I’m thinking about being more vocal in my ward about making Easter and Christmas services more special. Do you think it’s ok to voice such a sentiment, or is this considered “counseling the brethren?”

  18. Ok first we do celebrate Easter! and Yes We do Celebrate Missionaries leaving! And if you are so bored and don’t think what we are doing is following what the scriptures say then Don’t come to church! Yeah and churches do have have things they do for holidays! oK have you not seen when the choir does their songs? and If you get so Bored with church don’t come OK OK We trust the church you shouldn’t be saying stuff like this behind their backs. If you have a problem with this ” Not “celebrating” Easter” or anyother holiday GO TALK TO YOUR BISHOP!!!!!!!!! THAT IS WHY HE IS THERE TO TALK TO IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Real Mormon, thanks for your uplifiting message. You made me feel much better about myself.

    Did you know I’m in the bishopric? I talk to the bishop every week, and this is not news to him. He still likes me, and doesn’t have your wonderful Christian attitude. Thanks for showing your true colors.

  20. Since we learn proper capitalization and punctuation in grade school, I’m deducing your random “a real Mormon” (as opposed to us ‘fake’ Mormons) poster is either in 2nd grade or is quite possibly functionally illiterate.

    Keep up the great work, MH! You’re doing and awesome job shedding light on “the meat”.

  21. […] usually don’t attend Sunday School, and some of you have taken exception to my previous post about being bored at church.  Well, today for some reason, I decided to go to Sunday School, and […]

  22. […] been checking my blog stats, and with Easter upon us, it seems my post from last year about why Mormon’s don’t celebrate Easter is getting the most hits.  While last year’s post was a little negative-that I think Mormon […]

  23. […] been checking my blog stats, and with Easter upon us, it seems my post from last year about why Mormon’s don’t celebrate Easter is getting the most hits.  While last year’s post was a little negative-that I think Mormon […]

  24. […] 2.       why don’t mormons celebrate easter […]

  25. […] 2.       why don’t mormons celebrate easter […]

  26. […] Christmas celebrations in our church are lacking as well.  Two years ago, I posted the question, Why don’t Mormons celebrate Easter? It is my #2 post over the past 2 years. I always receive a spike in hits for that post around […]

  27. […] Christmas celebrations in our church are lacking as well.  Two years ago, I posted the question, Why don’t Mormons celebrate Easter? It is my #2 post over the past 2 years. I always receive a spike in hits for that post around […]

  28. I am a christian and I go to church every sunday like the rest of you and I still celebrate easter. We do not have freaky reenactments or anything like that we just have fun. Anything wrong with that?

  29. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that. Would you consider your Easter services to be different than regular services?

  30. Wow! Perhaps its too late to comment, since this was like last year. But, I think the question is a valid one and one I asked myself after attending so many different services over the years since my grandmother passed in 2001. She was an active member. However, though not an active member myself I had grown up in the church.

    I think celebration is an individual thing. And, I have always felt that church is a place for silent reflection or observation. As strange as it sounds, I have never found the church services to be a yawner, but surprisingly, calming and uplifting. And, I think that is how church should be – reflective, calming and uplifting. I can’t say I have ever found any appeal to those churches that raise the roof and make a joyous noise all that inspiring, but “to each his own.”

    By the way, kuddos on this site. There are a lot of opposition to the Mormon faith and even more “die-hard” Mormon supporters. This site is an interesting way to share ideas, explore those questions and hopefully open a few minds.

  31. Are These commoments from Mormon people for real????????????

  32. THATS NOT WHAT I SAID NOW I KNOW THIS IS A JOKE

  33. fern, I am real, and I know raechel and sanford in real life, so they are real people too. I think the rest are real too, but I have no way of knowing for sure. 😉

    I have a post planned today which you may find more appealing.

  34. I agree with Jen. I couldn’t have said it better. Too bad “Real Mormon” had to be so mean! I am a “real Mormon” and I see everyone as a son or daughter of God despite who they are. I would never say “Then don’t come to church!” Thats awful. I think it is good to tell someone your ideas to make Christmas or Easter more special. Of course they would love any ideas. They would have to celebrate them for a ward night at the church most likely. They usually have speakers in sacrament, but maybe a special singer or musical number would make sacrament even more spiritual that Easter day. I know that the atonement of the Savior is real to me. It was not always that way until I decided to repent years ago. I prayed for days to feel forgiveness and finally through tears and my own anguish I felt a real forgiving love wash over me and comfort me. It was powerful and real enough to never deny that yes, the Savior died for ALL of us and it is a individual thing to experience. Since then I have never looked at Easter as a time to Celebrate loudly, but a time to quietly reflect on my part in his pain. I also love knowing that we can be clean and pure again through him and live with him IF we turn to him and repent. We cannot be saved by Grace alone. We have to do our part and repent then he will do the rest by Grace. We will always be in debt to our Lord. My thoughts turn to how much Heavenly Father and Jesus really do loves us by providing a Savior for us, then blessing us with eternal life in our flesh and blood bodies to live with them forever!

  35. sounds like a whole lot of hating going

  36. […] right now, you will see that my post from 2008 is the #6 result on Google (it used to be higher): Why Don’t Mormons Celebrate Easter? Frankly it’s shocking to me that my post is ranked so high on Google.  As of today, it is my 3rd […]

  37. I believe that while we do celebrate Easter, the emphasize is different. As a former Catholic(26 years) and now as a former Mormon( Just as long)The differences has to be looked at are as simple as these. the Mormon Church does not have crosses in their church buildings because we know that Christ knew he was going to die, Mormons tend to celebrate the life of Christ, rather than the death of Christ.

    Catholics on the other hand celebrate the Death of Christ because with Christ death came ever lasting life. This is an important nuance. The Cross, and the stations of the cross become a reminder to Catholics of the suffering, as well as the joy at the resurrection,

  38. […] If you do that right now, you will see that my post from 2008 is the #1 result on Google: Why Don’t Mormons Celebrate Easter? Frankly it’s shocking to me that my post is ranked so high on Google.  As of today, it is my […]

  39. […] in 2008) about boring church meetings, causing some to ask me Why I go to Church.  The Church has boring Easter services, and Christmas services are often less than desired.  While I know some families did have […]

  40. […] in 2008) about boring church meetings, causing some to ask me Why I go to Church. The Church has boring Easter services, and Christmas services are often less than desired. While I know some families did have excessive […]

  41. […] Sunday is Easter if you weren’t paying attention.)  Easter is that one holiday that Mormons observe, but don’t really celebrate.  With Easter comes the story of the Passover.  (This is one of those strange years in which […]

  42. […] Sunday is Easter if you weren’t paying attention.)  Easter is that one holiday that Mormons observe, but don’t really celebrate.  With Easter comes the story of the Passover.  (This is one of those strange years in which […]

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