"Lent - the 40 Days of Weeping for Tammuz"

I’ve seen some anti-Catholic Protestants espousing the claim that the Catholic season of Lent “is derived from the 40 days of Weeping for the god Tammuz.”

From Babylon this mystery-religion spread to all the surrounding nations, as the years went on and the world was populated by the descendants of Noah. Everywhere the symbols were the same, and everywhere the cult of the mother and child became the popular system. Their worship was celebrated with the most disgusting and immoral practices. The image of the queen of heaven with the babe in her arms was seen everywhere, though the names might differ as languages differed. It became the mystery-religion of Phoenicia, and by the Phoenicians was carried to the ends of the earth. Ashtoreth and Tammuz, the mother and child of these hardy adventurers, became Isis and Horus in Egypt, Aphrodite and Eros in Greece, Venus and Cupid in Italy, and bore many other names in more distant places. Within 1,000 years, Babylonianism had become the religion of the world, which had rejected the Divine revelation.

Linked with the central mystery were countless lesser mysteries, the hidden meaning of which was known only to the initiates, but the outward forms were practiced by all the people. Among these were the doctrines of purgatorial purification after death, salvation by countless sacraments (such as priestly absolution), sprinkling with holy water, the offering of round cakes to the queen of heaven (as mentioned in the book of Jeremiah), dedication of virgins to the gods (which was literally sanctified prostitution), weeping for Tammuz for a period of 40 days prior to the great festival of Istar (who was said to have received her son back from the dead); for it was taught that Tammuz was slain by a wild boar and afterwards brought back to life. To him the egg was sacred, as depicting the mystery of his resurrection even as the evergreen was his chosen symbol and was set up in honor of his birth at the winter solstice, when a boar’s head was eaten in memory of his conflict and a yule log burned with many mysterious observances.


Whence, then, came this observance? The forty days abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess [Astarte / Ishtar]. 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.

The 40 days of Weeping for Tammuz (Lent)

How can these allegations be answered or refuted? How about the claim that the period of weeping for Tammuz lasted for 40 days? Is that verifiable or is it false?

Wikipedia also says:

Joseph Campbell, a more recent popularizer of mythology, equates Ishtar, Inanna, and Aphrodite, and he draws a parallel between the Egyptian goddess Isis who nurses Horus, and the Babylonian goddess Ishtar who nurses the god Tammuz.

Is this even true? I thought Ishtar was the lover of Tammuz, not his mother. Dumuzi/Tammuz is said to be the husband of Inanna in Sumerian mythology from what I understand.

I will let others deal with the particulars, but one way to respond to these “Catholicism = Recycled Paganism” charges is to point out Protestant doctrines that resemble pagan myths. Take the trinity, for example. The Egyptians had a holy trinity of Isis, Horus, and Set. The Hindus had Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. So obviously the Protestants must have gotten theirs from pre-Christian pagans … right? Islam makes its Bible the inspired, inerrant word of God with final authority and forbids images, so that must be where Protestants get their ideas about their own Bible and their hatred of Christian art. Does Jupiter the father of the gods sound like Japet the father of the Europeans? Does Vulcan the blacksmith sound like Tubalcain the metalworker? And everybody knows about Gilgamesh and the flood.

True, some of these imply that Catholicism and Judaism are counterfeits, but the point is that the argument proves too much. Jesus fasted forty days; was he a closet Tammuzian?

I’ve no idea if the idea of 40 days of weeping for Tammuz is true or not, but it doesn’t matter unless the Babylonians got their 40 days from the symbolisim of 40 throughout the Old and New Testaments, or vice versa (forty years in the wilderness 40 days and nights of rai;, the Lord’s forty days in the desert, etc, etc,.). Those who make such ignorant accusations aren’t likely to have the intellectual wherewithal to be swayed by the truth. Have a look at the thread about anti-Catholic whoppers and you’ll see that weeping for Tammuz is but one of many such lies promoted by anti-Catholics.

Here’s another example of these allegations:

The Original Myth

At their first encounter, Ishtar is said to have fallen in love with the shepherd boy Tammuz who in turn asks for her hand in marriage. The Holy Marriage of Ishtar and Tammuz takes place and Tammuz is elevated to the god of fertility. As a result, their marriage endows the earth with fertility, and the cyclical renewal of life is ensured.

But a terrible day was to come when Ishtar would lose her lover, and would have to travel to the ends of the earth, and endure much pain and suffering, in order to bring him back.

The myth tells how Tammuz is killed, during the same month that bears his name. In the burning days of late summer the people came to the fields, where Tammuz stood, and cruelly murdered him with sickles scattering his flesh over the land. When the Goddess Ishtar learned of the death of her beloved, she was distraught with grief. Weary and worn from weeping she knew that she must find the spirit of Tammuz and bring him back to life, whatever perils faced her.

Ishtar finally descends to the netherworld to rescue Tammuz from “land of no return.” During these events in the netherworld, everything on earth is withering away. Trees and plants wither and die and animals and humans alike are sterile.

When Ishtar pleads with the Gods to restore Tammuz to life, the Gods agree, but to a partial reprieve only; whereby Tammuz spends six months in the world of the living and the following six months in the netherworld. Hence Tammuz is restored to life in the netherworld and together with his lover Ishtar they triumphantly return to earth on the first day of spring and the start of the New Year in Beth Nahrain.

Over the centuries as the myth was passed from generation to generation the love story was further elaborated. The expanded version of the myth explains how Ishtar’s husband Tammuz, who was also her son and her brother, came together with Ishtar in the world. She bore him, she made love with him and** yet she remained a virgin**.

After Tammuz was killed by a wild boar, Ishtar put ashes on her head and mourned for 40 days, giving up all pleasures and food. But then, she discovers that she is pregnant. She declares that it is a miraculous conception and in celebration of this miraculous pregnancy, this divine fertility, she has an egg of gold made, calling it the golden egg of Ishtar.

Ishtar searches for Tammuz all over the world. And finally finds him in the netherworld and eventually brings him back to life. Tammuz is resurrected and the vegetation again flourishes.

The History

The Resurrection of Ishtar and Tammuz , also known as Easter (Ishtar), was not a new holiday. Before Christianity it was celebrated throughout the Roman Empire and is even mentioned in Acts 12:4 being celebrated by King Herod. “And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.”

Then ancient Babylonians also celebrated this event by colouring eggs and rabbits were used to symbolise fertility and the God Tammuz.

In ancient Babylon when Tammuz died, the followers of Ishtar joined her in mourning and proclaimed a forty day period of sorrow each year prior to the anniversary of the death of Tammuz. During this time, no meat was to be eaten. Thus the practice of mourning for the loss of the “son of god” was adopted by many for centuries thereafter. This act was later “Christianised” and given the name of Lent. Today Easter falls right after the observance of the forty days of Lent.

In Beth Nahrain, during the time of growth when the first rains after the long summer fell, the people also celebrated the festival known as the Holy Marriage of Ishtar and Tammuz - yearly at the autumn equinox - which brought the land fertility and growth yet again. Tammuz had returned from the netherworld and made love with Ishtar again. This time was also the second harvest, the harvest of the fruits, a time of winemaking and the slaughtering of animals in preparation for winter.

The Death of Tammuz also known as Noosardel (sprinkling water on the path of God) was another holiday celebrated with an early morning worship service in which the penitents face east as seen during Ezekiel’s time (Ezekial 8:14) when the women wept for Ishtar’s son. “Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.”

In each legend, Tammuz dies young and his birth is honoured on his birthday which coincided with the Winter Solstice. This was celebrated around December 21st. Part of the religious ritual involved cutting down a young evergreen tree as a way of commemorating the premature death of Tammuz. Along with this the Babylonians would also burn a Yala (Yule) log, called "the log of the son.” It was burned in the fire to symbolise the death of Tammuz. The next day the evergreen tree would be decorated with silver and gold. The log that was burned was now alive again as the Tammuz tree. The Old Testament book of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 10:3-4) also describes how the Birth of Tammuz was celebrated in ancient Babylon , "…for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax; They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not."



Conversion by Force

In 313AD, while battling to become the new emperor of Rome, Constantine claimed that he saw a burning cross in the sky, with the words, “in this sign, conquer.” After emerging victorious from the battle he finally gave Christians freedom of worship throughout the Roman Empire.

It was not until 380 AD that Emperor Theodosius introduced legislation that affirmed the dogmas of the Council of Nicaea and made church membership compulsory. By 393AD, he had made Christianity the official and only state religion of the Roman Empire. He then undertook the forcible suppression of all other religions, and the prohibition of all forms of paganism. Any who would dare to hold to any other form of worship were considered heretics and would suffer severe punishment from the state.

The people of Babylon who, at the time, practiced the Babylonian religion, its priests and its practices, were assimilated into the Christian church by force. With the Christian church no such festival as Christmas was ever heard of till the third century and it was not till the fourth century was far advanced that it gained much observance. The late-December holiday when they burned the Yala log and decorated the evergreen Tammuz tree was given the name Christmas, presumably to celebrate the birth of Christ. The autumn marriage feast celebrating the marriage of Tammuz and Ishtar was renamed by Emperor Constantine to the Feast of the Holy Cross. Ishtar the queen of heaven and her child became the Madonna and child. The spring holiday of the golden egg of Ishtar was called Easter, and given the meaning of observing the resurrection of Christ, not Tammuz.


According to ancient Babylonian myths and history, the resurrection, death, marriage and birth of Tammuz and Ishtar are ancient Babylonian holidays that have never left us. Hijacked by the Roman Empire and then “repackaged” as Christian holidays, they remain stark evidence of the depth and piety the ancient people of Beth Nahrain once held for their ancient Gods.

They’re claiming that the so-caled “resurrection” of Tammuz occurred on the spring equinox or March 20 and that because Easter/Pascha (celebrating the Resurrection of Christ) is celebrated on the Sunday following the full Moon on or after the equinox this allegedly means that Jesus was a re-hashing or rip-off of Tammuz.

Many pre-christian Europeans thought that their sun gods and fertility goddesses died at the winter solstice and regained life again at the spring equinox. The concept of death and rebirth plays a large role in these legends. e.g. Cybele mourned two days for Attis, then celebrated his return on the third day, while Venus mourned two days for Adonis until he ascended to heaven on the third day.

(March 20 or 21) that honored Cybele, the Phrygian goddess of fertility. Cybele’s consort, Attis, was considered born of a virgin and was believed to have died and been resurrected three days later. Attis derived his mythology from even earlier gods, Osiris, Dionysus, and Orpheus, who also were supposed to have been born of a virgin and suffered death and resurrection as long as 500 years before Christ was born. The death of Attis was commemorated on a Friday and the resurrection was celebrated three days later on Sunday.

There are other Easter traditions that are pagan in origin. The Easter sunrise service is derived from the ancient pagan practice of welcoming the sun on the morning of the spring equinox, marking the beginning of spring.

The word lent simply means spring, but commonly refers to a long period of abstinence. In one of the versions of the Babylonian myth, Tammuz was killed by a wild boar, and his wife Ishtar dedicated 40 days to weeping and fasting. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. – Ezekiel 8:14 Sunrise Services Even in ancient times, astrologers knew when the Vernal equinox occurred, WHICH IS SYMBOLISED AS A CROSS and their followers would celebrate the arrival of spring at the first sunrise of the season.

It is quite probable that it has a far older and more interesting origin, as is suggested by an inquiry into the origin of hot cross buns. These cakes, which are now solely associated with the Christian Good Friday, are traceable to the remotest period of pagan history. Cakes were offered by ancient Egyptians to their moon goddess; and these had imprinted on them a pair of horns, symbolic of the ox at the sacrifice of which they were offered on the altar, or of the horned moon goddess, the equivalent of Ishtar of the Assyro-Babylonians. The Greeks offered such sacred cakes to Astarte and other divinities. This cake they called bous (ox), in allusion to the ox-symbol marked on it, and from the accusative boun it is suggested that the word ‘bun’ is derived. Like the Greeks, the Romans eat cross-bread at public sacrifices, such bread being usually purchased at the doors of the temple and taken in with them, a custom alluded to by St. Paul in I Cor. x.28.Lets not forget that Jesus himself said that wine was his blood and bread was his flesh. At Herculaneum two small loaves about 5 in. in diameter, and plainly marked with a cross, were found. In the Old Testament are references made in Jer. vii.18-xliv.19, to such sacred bread being offered to the moon goddess. The cross-bread was eaten by the pagan Saxons in honor of Eoster, their goddess of light. The Mexicans and Peruvians are shown to have had a similar custom. The custom, in fact, was practically universal. – “Bun”, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed.

Can anyone help me find out whether or not these underlined claims are true or false? How can these claims be answered?

omg look it up girl

Firstly, I’m a male, not a girl. And I’ve already tried looking it up in an attempt to verify or debunk these allegations using Google but, I can’t seem to find anything definite which does either.

Here’s yet another example of these kinds of claims:

[Re-worded for clarity…]

“The Easter sunrise service is derived from the ancient pagan practice of welcoming the sun on the morning of the spring equinox, marking the beginning of spring. The Christian version of Easter is celebrated after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Modern day neo-pagans usually have their spring celebrations on the day of the equinox. Sunday was the sacred day of pagan worship. It is the first day of the week sacred to worshippers of the sun. The Church changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. These celebrations have gone on every year continuously for over 2500 years. So, next Easter, if you go to a sunrise service, remember you are indulging in pagan rituals that celebrate the advent of springtime!”


Any help answering these (and the above) claims from those more knowledgeable in these regards would be much appreciated.


Dude, seriously? Google it.

Yes, ‘seriously.’ Do you honestly think I didn’t do that in the first place? In case you didn’t read my last post addressed to you:

Just ‘googling’ something won’t necessarily give you a lot of good or reputable sources to work with.

If the time for the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection was copied, then the resurrection itself was also copied from Tammuz.
If that is what they believe, then they don’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection.
If they don’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection, we shouldn’t take them seriously.


I don’t appreciate your sarcastic, condescending and dismissive comments (e.g. “omg look it up girl,” “Dude, seriously? Google it,” and the obviously fake url of forums.helpless.catholic.com). If you have nothing more to add to the discussion or are unable to help with a resolution/refutation of these claims then why bother continue to post in the thread, with condescending remarks to a fellow Catholic who is looking for answers and defenses against anti-Christian/anti-Catholic claims, no less?

Last I checked this was the apologetics sub-forum… ‘Apologetics’ means “speaking in defense” and is the Christian theological science or discipline that aims to present a rational basis for the Faith and to defend it against objections and misrepresentation.

Yes, thats one way to look at things, but I’d like to know how to refute these claims, not just brush them off. Last I checked this was the apologetics sub-forum… ‘Apologetics’ means “speaking in defense” and is the Christian theological science or discipline that aims to present a rational basis for the Faith and to defend it against objections and misrepresentation.

Could any apologist or amateur apologist on this forum that may be reading this thread please assist me with addressing and refuting these claims and allegations?


Sometimes brushing it off is the best response, especially when the allegations are prima facie ridiculous. Sometimes ridiculous allegations are made merely for the sake of baiting the opponent, who will waste time on refutations and look silly, which was the point all along.

But you can brush up on what exactly this Tammuz myth contained, and highlight what fails to correspond to the Christian version. Tammuz’ holiday was June 21; Jesus’ holiday is in spring. Tammuz was a shepherd; Jesus was a carpenter, if he ever had a real job. So the connection is tenuous at best.

More: tektonics.org/copycat/tammuz.html
(found by googling the word tammuz)

Is Catholicism Pagan?

"…Opponents of the Church often attempt to discredit Catholicism by attempting to show similarities between it and the beliefs or practices of ancient paganism. This fallacy is frequently committed by Fundamentalists against Catholics, by Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and others against both Protestants and Catholics, and by atheists and skeptics against both Christians and Jews.

The nineteenth century witnessed a flowering of this “pagan influence fallacy.” Publications such as The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop (the classic English text charging the Catholic Church with paganism) paved the way for generations of antagonism towards the Church. During this time, entire new sects were created (Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses)—all considering traditional Catholicism and Protestantism as polluted by paganism. This era also saw atheistic “freethinkers” such as Robert Ingersoll writing books attacking Christianity and Judaism as pagan…"

It is always better to say nothing at all than to be pretentious. Patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).


2 Thessalonians 3:10

I’m not looking to argue with an opponent on this issue or respond to anyone. I came across these claims online and I’m simply trying to find out the answers/refutations of them for myself. As I said previously, I have done many online searches regarding this subject but, none that I could find addressed the some of the specific claims that I quoted. For instance, I’m aware of the article on Tammuz from Tektonics (and it is a good article) but, it didn’t address some other issues.

I don’t see what the problem is that you have with me asking apologetics questions on a sub-forum specifically designed for that purpose. It seems you would have that I try to find the answers by just using a search engine (and that is one path of looking for answers that I have already taken) but, sometimes you can get better answers by actually asking questions to other people who may happen to know about a particular issue.

Here’s another example. A Protestant church ascribing pagan origin to Lent:


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.