What Is Easter Sunday?Also known as Resurrection Sunday, Easter is a Christian holiday that is meant to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as is mentioned in the New Testament. Legend has it that on the third day of being buried that Christ rose from his grave and rose to the Heavens – this day is celebrated with great devotion and aplomb all over the world.
For most Christians, the week before Easter Sunday is referred to as the Holy Week, but the actual prayer starts 40 days before, where Saturdays and Sundays are considered light fasting days. The three days around Easter Sunday are known as the Easter Triduum – these include Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and then eventually Easter Sunday.
Easter is also linked to the Jewish Passover, also known as Pascha – those who follow Jewish traditions also consider this the same time as the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. For the Jewish as well as Christians, this is a time to exchange Easter gifts or Easter gift hampers, which could include chocolates, religious items and other objects of use.
When Is Easter Sunday?Like several Hindu festivals, Easter and the days related to it are known as movable feasts, which means that their date is not fixed and will vary each year. The computation of the date is done based on a lunisolar calendar, which is quite similar to the Hebrew calendar. The First Council of Nicaea set forth mainly two rules – one was related to the independence from the Hebrew calendar and the second was that the uniformity be maintained worldwide.
Because these are movable feasts, there is no actual details mentioned for computation, but over centuries and after several controversies, the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon was chosen to be Easter Sunday. This generally comes before March 21st on most years and 40 weekdays before this Sunday, the holy month of Lent starts. Today, Easter day is a valid holiday in several countries across the world and for many countries, so is Good Friday.
What Happened On Easter Sunday?One of the main tenets of Christianity is the miraculous and supernatural resurrection of Christ, after being crucified and ‘dying’ at the cross and this is what is celebrated as Easter. What the resurrection proved was that Christ was in reality the son of God, which is why a miracle like this as possible. The notion behind celebrating Easter was also that true believers of Christ would also have the opportunity of a new birth, in the sense of living a better life; one away from sins and wrongdoings.
While that is one Easter day meaning, there is also a theological significance to this day, which is also how it is all linked to the Jewish Passover. It is said that when Jesus sat down with his disciples for the last supper, he was actually preparing himself as well as them for his death. The bread was meant to signify parts of his body and the wine, the blood that was about to be spilt from his body.
What Are The Other Important Days Around Easter Sunday?As per the Christian calendar, there are 40 days of fasting, without counting the Sundays that lead to Easter – the period of Lent is meant for fasting and penance. Just before Easter comes the Holy Week, which includes the Maundy Thursday, which is a commemoration of Christ’s Last Supper, Good Friday, the day of his Crucifixion, Holy Saturday is the day of transition between Crucifixion and Resurrection and eventually, Easter Sunday. The time between sunset on Easter Saturday and sunrise on Easter Sunday is known as the Great Vigil – the Roman Catholic Church set the time for the Great Vigil at 10PM and that allows the midnight mass to take place.
Lent – Six and a half weeks before Easter, on Ash Wednesday starts a 40 day long period of abstinence and fasting; this is meant to echo the fasting that Jesus went through the wilderness, right before he started his public ministry. For most, Sundays are relaxed fast days, allowing people to take a gentle break from the intense fasting that takes place the rest of the week. In the early days, fasting was very strict and severe, but over time, there have been relaxations – these days the emphasis is more on penitence and charity. People choose to give up specific pleasures such as sweets or alcohol during Lent.
Good Friday – The day that Christ was crucified is celebrated as Good Friday and even though this is a day of sorrow, fasting and deep penance, there is a sense of elation because Christ gave his life for his people. And it was after this crucifixion that the resurrection was possible, leading to the actual celebration.
How Is Easter Sunday Celebrated?There is a sense of joy that surrounds Easter, because it is meant to signify the second coming of Christ. As per Roman traditions, the vigil has four parts – the celebration of the lights, the service of lessons, the administration of baptism and confirmation of converts and finally, the Easter mass. Several countries have parades on Easter date, while others will have special sermons in the church and of course, the much loved Easter egg hunt.
The egg is meant to symbolise rebirth and new life, which is why it is closely related to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection – in the early days, eggs would be stained red to make people remember the blood of Christ. The egg is meant to symbolise the empty tomb of Christ as well. In modern times, the actual egg was replaced by chocolate or candy eggs or plastic egg shells filled with candy. These days, people also choosing to create hampers that includes Easter eggs as well as personalised Easter gifts. If you too are looking for special gifts to give away this Easter, you can find the best gifts online at eCraftIndia.
Then there is also the importance of the Easter Bunny – this connection can be traced back to 13th century Germany – the Germans worshipped pagan gods and goddesses, including one names Eostra, the goddess of spring and fertility. It is believed that the word Easter comes from Eostra. Because rabbits are known for their fast breeding, they became the symbol of Eostra and the rabbit became associated with Easter, because they symbolised Christ’s rebirth.
Yet another aspect of mention is the association of the colour purple – in the olden times, purple dye was extremely expensive and hard to come by, which is why it was used only by royalty. In an attempt to mock Jesus, the purple robe that he had on him was removed by the Roman soldiers. Today, the colour purple is meant to remind people of the humiliation and pain that Jesus underwent at the time of his crucifixion.
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