It's the anniversary of Jesus' resurrection and ascension into heaven, and celebrating it can teach Christians a lot more than bunnies about faith. Easter occurs at the conclusion of Holy Week and immediately following Good Friday, which commemorates Jesus' crucifixion and death. It's also used to reaffirm one's beliefs.
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What is the biblical meaning of Easter?
Easter, also known as Pascha (Aramaic, Greek, Latin), Zatik (Armenian), or Resurrection Sunday, is a Christian festival and cultural holiday commemorating Jesus' resurrection from the dead, which the New Testament describes as taking place on the third day after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary in c. 30 AD. It follows Lent (or Great Lent), a 40-day season of fasting, prayer, and penance that preceded Jesus' Passion.
Most Christians refer to the week leading up to Easter as Holy Week, which includes the days of the Easter Triduum in Western Christianity, which include Maundy Thursday, which commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper, and Good Friday, which commemorates Jesus' crucifixion and death. The same days and events are commemorated in Eastern Christianity with names that begin with “Holy” or “Holy and Great,” while Easter itself is known as “Great and Holy Pascha,” “Easter Sunday,” “Pascha,” or “Sunday of Pascha.” Eastertide, or the Easter Season, in Western Christianity, begins on Easter Sunday and lasts seven weeks, culminating on Pentecost Sunday, the 50th day. The Paschal season finishes with Pentecost in Eastern Christianity as well, however the Great Feast of Pascha's leave-taking is on the 39th day, the day before the Feast of the Ascension.
Easter and its accompanying holidays are not fixed feasts; their dates are calculated using a lunisolar calendar (solar year plus Moon phase), which is akin to the Hebrew calendar. Only two rules were established by the First Council of Nicaea (325), namely independence from the Hebrew calendar and universal homogeneity. The computation's intricacies were not described; they were worked out in practice, a process that took centuries and resulted in a number of disagreements. It is now the first Sunday following the ecclesiastical full moon, which falls on or just after March 21. The date of the full moon sometimes vary from the astronomical first full moon after the March equinox, even when calculated using the more precise Gregorian calendar.
Does Easter signify rebirth?
The first seder, or customary dinner, is held tonight to kick off the weeklong Passover festival. Christians will celebrate Palm Sunday tomorrow, which marks the beginning of Holy Week, which will end on. Easter Sunday is a special day. Both are festivals of deliverance and rebirth, and the egg is a symbol of that renaissance in both Passover and Easter, just as it was in ancient times when pagans celebrated the spring solstice.
Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, was offered eggs by the Romans. They, like most of the ancient world, saw eggs as symbols of rebirth, fertility, and good fortune. The egg's smooth oval shape, devoid of corners, was connected with happiness and peace.
During pagan times in Europe and Asia, eggs were given as a New Year's gift and then celebrated in the spring when the sun entered the zodiac sign of Aries. In Iran, hardcooked eggs are placed on a mirrored tray on the eve of the New Year, and when the first one jiggles, the sun is considered to have passed into the sign of spring, and the New Year begins.
Since ancient times, eggs have been coloured, with red being the most popular color, notably among the Celts. Modern Greeks still prefer that color to pastels, braiding lacquerbright eggs into honeysweet breads gilded with sesame seeds. Other Mediterraneans, such as the Portuguese and the Italians, braid eggs into loaves that serve as both centerpieces and main dishes during Easter brunches. Eggs come in pastel colors such as pink, blue, green, yellow, and lavender.
What is the true origin of Easter?
The majority of major holidays are linked to the changing of the seasons in some way. This is especially true during the holiday season. The New Testament makes no mention of the year in which Jesus was born. Many academics argue, however, that the main reason Jesus' birth is commemorated on December 25 is that it is the day of the Roman calendar's winter solstice.
The birth of “the light of the world,” as recounted in the New Testament's Gospel of John, was excellent symbolism for the days following the winter solstice as they gradually became longer and less gloomy.
The same was true for Easter, which fell near to another important date in the solar year: the vernal equinox (about March 20), when light and dark periods were equal. The arrival of spring is frequently greeted with joy by individuals living in northern latitudes, as it signals the end of the chilly winter days.
Spring also signifies the rebirth of new life in the animal world, as well as the return to life of plants and trees that have been dormant for the winter. It was only natural to commemorate Jesus' resurrection at this time of year, given the symbolism of new life and rebirth.
The name “Easter” appears to be derived from the name of a pre-Christian deity in England, Eostre, who was honored at the start of spring. The Venerable Bede, a British monk who lived in the late seventh and early eighth centuries, is the only source of information on this deity. As Bruce Forbes, a religious studies scholar, puts it:
“Bede wrote that the month in which English Christians commemorated Jesus' resurrection was called Eosturmonath in Old English, after a goddess named Eostre.” Despite the fact that Christians had begun to accept the Christian meaning of the festival, the goddess's name was nevertheless used to denote the season.”
Because Bede had such an impact on later Christians, the term stayed, and Easter is still the name used by the English, Germans, and Americans to refer to the celebration of Jesus' resurrection.
Is Easter a pagan?
A rabbit will deliver chocolate eggs to many Australian homes on Easter Sunday.
Easter, it turns out, began as a pagan spring festival in the Northern Hemisphere long before Christianity.
“People have revered the equinoxes and solstices as sacred periods since prehistoric times,” said Carole Cusack of the University of Sydney.
“The spring equinox is a day when the amount of dark and light is precisely the same, indicating that you've emerged from winter because the light and dark have rebalanced.”
Following the Christian era, the Easter season became associated with Christ's resurrection.
“Feast days in the nascent Christian church were tied to previous pagan festivals in the first couple of centuries after Jesus' life,” Professor Cusack explained.
“Spring festivities, with their themes of fresh life and relief from winter's cold, became clearly linked to Jesus' victory over death by being resurrected after the crucifixion.”
Why do we hide eggs on Easter?
During Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter, it was taboo to consume eggs. The fast was broken on Easter Sunday with feasting and revelry, and eggs were a significant component of the festivities. This was particularly true for those who could not afford meat. Eggs were also given to the church as Good Friday contributions, and the lord of the manor was frequently given eggs as Easter gifts. The royals got in on the act, too: in 1290, Edward I bought 450 eggs to be colored or covered with gold leaf and then delivered to his household.
Why do we give eggs at Easter?
People have given each other eggs at spring festivities throughout history to commemorate the arrival of the new season. Eggs are considered to have become a component of Easter celebrations because they signify fresh life and rebirth.
Eating eggs was outlawed during Lent (the 40 days preceding Easter) in the medieval period, so digging into an egg on Easter Sunday was a tremendous pleasure! This was particularly true for those who couldn't afford to buy meat. Eggs were often presented to the lord of the manor as Easter gifts, and villagers often gave eggs to the church as Good Friday offerings. Even the royals got involved: in 1290, Edward I bought 450 eggs, which he painted with colors and gold leaf and distributed to his household.
At Easter, there were a number of superstitions concerning eggs as well. If you preserved an egg laid on Good Friday for 100 years, it was said that it would turn into a diamond, and if your egg had two yolks, it was a sign that you would soon become wealthy. Some people believed that cooking eggs on Good Friday and eating them on Easter Sunday would promote fertility and avoid untimely death, thus people began to bless their eggs before eating them.
Why do we hunt eggs on Easter?
Although Easter is a religious event, several of its traditions, such as the use of Easter eggs, are likely derived from pagan practices. The egg, an ancient symbol of fresh life, has long been associated with springtime pagan festivals. Easter eggs are thought to depict Jesus' resurrection and emergence from the tomb from a Christian perspective. According to some sources, the tradition of decorating Easter eggs dates back to at least the 13th century. Eggs were once a banned meal during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to commemorate the completion of the period of penance and fasting, then eat them on Easter as a celebration.
Why is the resurrection of Jesus called Easter?
It was excellent symbolism for the birth of “the light of the world,” as described in the New Testament's Gospel of John, because the days after the winter solstice gradually became longer and less dark.
Which religion is Easter part of?
Easter is one of Christianity's most important holidays or feasts. It commemorates Jesus' resurrection three days after his crucifixion. Easter marks the end of the Lenten season of fasting and penitence for many Christian denominations. Though it is possible that even the first Christians observed the Resurrection, which is a fundamental component of the faith, the first recorded celebration of Easter dates from the 2nd century.
What does the Easter Bunny have to do with Jesus?
So, why are these customs so deeply embedded in Easter Sunday? What do they have to do with Jesus' resurrection, exactly?
Easter eggs, bunnies, and fluffy yellow chicks in gardening hats all have pagan origins. Separate from the Christian tradition of commemorating the day Jesus Christ rose from the grave, they were included into the Easter celebration.
According to the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture, the Easter bunny's origins can be traced back to pre-Christian Germany in the 13th century, when people worshiped a variety of gods and goddesses. On the Vernal Equinox, feasts were conducted in honor of the Teutonic goddess Eostra, who was the goddess of spring and fertility. The rabbit was chosen as her symbol because of the animal's rapid rate of reproduction.