Among the few Christian festivals, Easter is one of the most significant celebrations in Christianity. Easter holidays mark the foundation of the Christian belief whose Biblical account can be found in many books.
What is Easter?
All must have been aware of the festivals with eggs but is the true meaning known to you? The naming of the festival dates back to the era of the pre-Christian goddess Eostre, who was worshipped during the initial spring. Several references have been made to the goddess of spring and fertility. It can be inferred from the learnings of the Venerable Bede. He was a monk and a scholar in the 8th century.
The real origin of Easter is not yet certain since the story has been discredited by modern scholars. Easter is one of the Christian festivals just a few weeks before Christmas and New Year. It marks the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion. In literal terms, it is regarded as the Messiah’s prophecy who persecutes himself for our sins and rises from his tomb on the third day.
Thus, the New Testament accords Easter to be the third day after Jesus’s crucifixion on the cross. The celebration follows a fasting period known as Lent, in which several churches observe remembrance and repentance. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and Good Friday marks the end, that is, the day Jesus was crucified.
The week that follows after Easter is known as the ‘Holy Week’ and covers three significant days.
- Palm Sunday (to celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem)
- Maundy Thursday (Jesus met his disciples at the ‘Last Supper’ for observing Passover)
- Good Friday (the day of Jesus’s crucifixion)
It is the celebration of prophecy and Jesus’ sacrifice through death in order to shower the gift of eternal life to those too believed in his reawakening.
When is Easter celebrated?
The Easter holidays of egg hunts, bunnies, candles, church services, etc., have a controversial background. It began in Christianity, early, in both the Eastern and Western regions. The principle dispute revolved around fixing the date which came to be known as the Paschal controversies. Moreover, it remained unresolved until the 8th century.
Initially, Easter was celebrated by the Christians on the fourteenth day of the spring’s first full moon, which coincides with the Jew’s Passover offering celebration. Two days later, the Resurrection day was observed, irrespective of the day of the week. In the West, Resurrection day was celebrated on Sunday, the first day of the week, also known as the day Jesus ascended from the dead.
Thus, Easter began to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the 14th day of the month of Nisan. Often referred to as the resurrection Sundays, Easter predominantly began to be observed on any Sunday between March 22nd until April 25th.
Connection with ‘Pascha’
The fun fact about Easter is that the Resurrection day of Jesus and Passover day for Jews coincides on the same day. The first Sunday after the pastoral full moon is also the day when the Passover occurred. Passover or ‘Pascha in Greek is significant for Jews to commemorate the Biblical story where God freed Jews from Egypt’s slavery and is observed on the 15th day of the Hebrew month, Nisan.
It is not simply coincidental that two festivals fall on the same day since according to the Old Testament, Easter is associated with Passover and the Exodus of Egypt through the Last Supper and Jesus’s crucifixion that ultimately led to the resurrection. The celebrations are not quite dissimilar since the Jews celebrate Passover by observing a long fast in remembrance of the enslaved Jews under Egypt’s slavery, similar to the Christian way.
There are several traditions in both the festivals that are akin to each other, one among which is the hunting of Easter eggs and the Afikamon in Passover. Thus the answer to “why do Jews celebrate Easter?” is not only coinciding dates but also customs and traditions. Often, Easter is also known as Pascha in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek or the Resurrection Sunday and roughly translates to ‘grand feast’. Most Orthodox Christians celebrate Pascha with colorful eggs, Pascha chocolates, palm fronds, etc.
Thus, Easter, Pascha, and resurrection Sunday are the same days of celebration.
The essence of the Easter holidays
Easter commemorates Jesus’s sacrifice for our sins although it is celebrated with grandeur by Christians all over the world. The Teutonic spring goddess of England was not worshipped for nothing! An entire season dedicated to service, music, candles, food, flowers, and best wishes, it is not a one-day celebration but a 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday. Contemporary Easter celebrations are marked with Easter bunnies and Easter eggs.
People celebrating Easter indulge in egg hunting in their backyards and organizing Easter baskets. Although traditional ways of celebration are etched in eggs and bunnies, commercial celebrations have introduced new traditions. The millennial generation has now been introduced to Easter baskets as nothing but a rendered marketing opportunity. Easter baskets do not carry any historical significance as much as Easter eggs and Easter bunny although children carry them to keep the prizes after egg hunting.
Easter way of celebrations
Although celebratory ways have somewhat changed, Easter dinners still hold their authenticity. A sumptuous Easter dinner idea would primarily include various salads, ham, mashed potatoes baked and grilled meat, homemade dinner rolls, roasted asparagus, and desserts as an added bonus. The most authentic dish is roasted lamb which is often followed by Simnel cake.
If you have a sweet tooth, waiting for Easter desserts would be worth it! Blueberry jello salad, coconut cream pie, cheesecakes, and carrot cakes are also served beside the signature cake. Food is a huge part of Easter celebrations as much as decorations are. Purple is the color of Easter. Hence, a traditional Christian house would be filled with white lilies and purple tulips alongside daffodils. Not only would Easter mesmerize your taste buds and eyesight but certain historical references would tickle your curiosity as well.
Located in the territory of Chile in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, Easter Island has attracted millions of tourists around the year. The statues of Eastern Island, known as moai, are easily recognizable and have been fascinating to thousands of explorers since it was invented in 1722.
The reason the island is named after a festival is because of Mr. Roggeveen, who along with his crew landed on the island on Easter Sunday. The island is also known as Isla de Pascua and has a grim history attached to slavery.
Good Friday 2021 will be observed on 2nd April, Friday marking the Easter holidays. As the missionary Christian figure, Billy Graham quotes, “in order to prove the true meaning of love, God sacrificed Himself on the cross. When he was hung on the cross and bled to death, it was his way of expressing love for the people”. Roughly meaning that God (Jesus) sacrificed for our sins to show his unconditional love for people. Also, he serves as a guide to his followers. Many such Easter quotes give away a similar impression to love and spread love through our actions.