All You need to know about Easter Sunday
All You need to know about Easter Sunday
Easter is here and people all around the world are getting ready to celebrate. It is widely considered the most important Christian holiday as Christians across the world celebrate the day Jesus Christ was resurrected as Easter day. Unlike Christmas, there is no fixed date for Easter. It falls during spring and is observed on the third day after the crucifixion and burial of Christ – Good Friday.
Christians worldwide gather for this major holiday for the religion to feast, attend church services, and hunt Easter eggs. Easter Sunday marks the end of Lent, which is a 40-day period of fasting and reflection. It follows Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
The story of Easter makes up a fundamental aspect of Christian theology. While Good Friday marks Jesus’s crucifixion, Easter Sunday is a day for Christians to celebrate his resurrection. Following Jesus’s arrest and crucifixion, he was buried in a tomb. While the next part of the story varies according to different accounts, most follow the theme of female followers of Jesus going to visit the tomb and finding the stone rolled away from the opening with Jesus’s body missing. Jesus went on to appear to his followers several times before his ascension into heaven. The resurrection of Christ is an important part of Christian belief because of its association with salvation.
Christians started celebrating the tradition of Easter with a feast soon after the time period of the resurrection, which is believed to have occurred around 33 AD. The time of year was chosen for the celebration since Jesus celebrated the Passover shortly before his crucifixion and so the time is believed to be around the time of Jesus’s actual crucifixion. In medieval celebrations, congregations would walk in a procession after mass, following a priest holding a crucifix or candle.
Why is it called Easter
Some Easter traditions connect this name with Ishtar, the Babylonian and Assyrian goddess of love and fertility, or Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. Doubtless, the Christian holiday was modeled after pagan celebrations of spring and fertility. However, its traditions also closely mimic Passover, and the last supper is believed by some to be a Passover Seder. European names still use this root for what they call Easter; in Spanish it is Pasqua, the French call it Paques, and the Italian name is Pasqua.
Traditions of Easter
Many Christians begin the celebration with an Easter Vigil the night before, sometimes called Easter Eve or Holy Saturday. Church services on Sunday typically follow regular church service tradition with a sermon or songs concerning the Easter story. Some churches hold mass or other services at sunrise. Other common traditions include:
The Easter egg hunt is a tradition that originated with pagan spring festivals that celebrated fertility. Like many pagan traditions, Christians intertwined the practice with religious significance. Easter egg hunts feature eggs hidden by the mythical Easter bunny, which may contain candy or other prizes. Hard-boiled eggs may also be used. The children will go looking for eggs to put in their Easter egg basket. On the day before Easter, many families decorate hard-boiled eggs with paint to use for the hunt. Eggs are also part of the tradition because of the ban on eggs during lent in Medieval Europe, meaning they were often included in the Sunday feast.
Churches are often decorated with flowers. A significant theme for Easter is rebirth, which flowers can emulate and symbolize. Traditional Easter flowers include Easter Lilies, which are believed to have grown in the Garden of Gethsemane, the site of Jesus’s arrest. Other Easter flowers include pussy willows, daffodils, narcissuses, and red tulips, which symbolize Jesus’s shed blood.
Including the candy hidden inside of Easter eggs, many children are given a basket of goodies at the day’s beginning. A common gift is a chocolate bunny.
Christian and Pagan Origins
There are many traditions that surround the entire Lent season, Holy Week, and Easter Sunday. Generally observed traditions across the globe include the Easter bunny, colored eggs, gift baskets, and flowers. We will dive into specific traditions below in more detail, but here are a few more interesting traditions from around the world:
In Australia, bunnies are considered pests that ruin crops and land. Aussies celebrate with their native marsupial, the Bibly, which has large ears and a more pointy nose. In Poland on Easter Monday, boys try to soak people with buckets or water. This tradition has is rooted in the baptism of Polich Prince Mieszko on Easter Monday in 996.
In Greece, the morning of Holy Saturday is known as the annual “pot throwing” where residents throw pots out of windows. It is a tradition used to mark the beginning of spring and new crops being gathered in new pots. In Europe, there are large bonfires called Easter Fires that are lit on Easter Sunday into Monday. The Saxon origin is that the fires will chase away winter and Easter will bring spring.
In pagan celebrations, Easter was typically a celebration of fertility, and many cultures associated the celebration with the Germanic goddess of fertility, Eostre, which is where the holiday’s name came from. Some cultures called the holiday Ishtar, which celebrates the resurrection of the Tammuz, another pagan god.