More Than A day……………….
How much do you know about Easter?
(Taken from the Winter 2014 edition of Thrivent Magazine)
Easter. For many, it’s a day to get dressed up in new clothes and go to church. It’s filling Easter baskets and baking a ham. And there’s probably more than one chocolate bunny involved! However, for Christians, the Easter celebration isn’t a single day. And it’s definitely not about the bunny.
Easter Sunday – the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and one of the most significant Christian holy days – is the realization of God’s promise of eternal life. It’s the culmination of a season of preparation and the beginning of a joyful feast.
The preparation for Easter actually starts 40 days earlier on Ash Wednesday, which begins the season called Lent. The last days of Lent, from Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday, are known as Holy Week. After Easter is a season called Eastertide, the 50 days from Easter to Pentecost Sunday. While not all Christian churches recognize these days and seasons in the same way, many Christians are familiar with them.
See what you know – or learn something new:
WHERE DOES THE WORD “EASTER” COME FROM?
Surprisingly, there’s no definitive answer. It might have come from the Anglo-Saxon word “ostre”, which some believe meant “the month of opening”. Or it could have come from the old German word “auferstehung, which meant “resurrection”.
WHY DOES EASTER’S DATE CHANGE EVERY YEAR? CHRISTMAS DOESN’T.
The early church debated whether they should celebrate Easter on the same day each year like Christmas or whether it should be a “moveable feast”. Since Sunday was associated with the Resurrection (three days after the crucifixion), in A.D. 325, the church decided to make Easter the first Sunday after the first full moon that follows the March equinox.
WHY THE “PALM” IN PALM SUNDAY?
When Jesus rode through Jerusalem on a donkey the Sunday before His resurrection, a huge crowd followed Him and waved palm branches to honor Him. (John 12:12-19) Some churches repeat the waving of palms on this Sunday to commemorate this historical Christian event.
WHAT IS “MAUNDY THURSDAY”, AND WHAT DOES “MAUNDY” MEAN?
“Maundy Thursday”, which occurs three days before Easter Sunday, comes from the Latin mandatum novum, which means “new commandment”. At the Last Supper Jesus told His disciples: “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another”. (John 13:34) Jesus expressed that love by washing His disciples’ feet. “The teacher is washing His disciples’ feet, and they should be willing to do the same,” says Timothy Butler, chaplain at Lindenwood University in Missouri. Some churches include the washing of feet during Maundy Thursday services.
JESUS DIED ON GOOD FRIDAY, SO WHAT’S “GOOD” ABOUT IT?
In many other languages, this Friday before Easter Sunday is called Holy Friday. It’s not entirely clear how the day became Good Friday in English. However, since Christ accomplished salvation through His crucifixion on this day, Butler believes “holy” and “good” are the same in this instance.
WHEN DID JESUS GO TO HEAVEN?
Eleven of Jesus’ apostles witnessed Jesus ascend to Heaven 40 days after Easter Sunday. (Acts 1:9-11) Some churches celebrate that day, called Ascension Day.
WHAT IS PENTECOST?
Pentecost Sunday celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days after the Resurrection. Before Jesus was crucified, He told His disciples (John 14:16-18) that the Holy Spirit would come after he died. Fifty days after Jesus was resurrected, His disciples felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim the Gospel of the risen Christ. (Acts 2:1-14)
WHAT ABOUT THE BUNNIE?
Candy, bunnies, baskets and eggs: Believe it or not, they do have historical Easter meaning.
The day of Resurrection was thought of as an entry into paradise. In the Hebrew Scriptures, when you enter paradise, you receive milk and honey and other festive foods. "So the candy is a modern playing out of the more ancient milk and honey," explains Richard Priggie, chaplain at Augustana College in Illinois.
The treat-toting Easter bunny seems to have been born in Germany in the late 1600s. Children would build nests for the bunny to leave their treats in – the origin of the modern Easter basket.
The ancient Egyptians exchanged red-colored eggs in honor of spring. This custom spread to the Greeks and Romans and then to the Europeans. In medieval times, eggs were forbidden during Lent, making them a popular treat on Easter Sunday.
Gary Karton is a freelance writer and blogs about parenting at socksnsandals.wordpress.com(Link opens in new window)