The origin of…Easter

“Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life.” S.D. Gordon

Post 74 Easter

Easter is a holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Dead, as described in the New Testament. The resurrection took place three days after his crucifixion by Romans at Calvary. The resurrection established Jesus as the powerful Son of God and is mentioned as proof that God will judge the world in righteousness. God has given Christians “a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”, as written in the New Testament. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the fundamental truth and absolute fact of the Christian faith. It is the central experience and essential kerygma of the Church. It confirms the authenticity of Christ’s remarkable earthly life and vindicates the truth of His teaching (http://lent.goarch.org/holy_pascha/learn/).

The word Easter comes from Hebrew פֶּסַח (Pesach, Passover). Pesach commemorates the story of the Exodus, which is the oppression of the Israelites as slaves in Egypt, their flight from the country led by Moses and their journey through the wilderness before eventually settling in the “Promised Land”. In many languages, the words for Easter and Passover are identical or very much alike.

Easter is preceded by the forty-day period of fasting, prayer and penance, known as Lent. The Sunday before Easter is known as Palm Sunday, that commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On this day processions of people carrying palms are being held, representing the palm branches the crowd scattered in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem. With Palm Sunday the Holy Week starts, which includes Holy Wednesday (Spy Wednesday), Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday, commemorating the Last Supper), Good Friday (Holy Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus), and Holy Saturday.
In Western Christianity Easter Season starts Easter Sunday and lasts seven weeks, ending with Pentecost Sunday. Forty days after Easter Ascension day is celebrated, commemorating the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven.

Easter is not fixed in relation to the calendar and the date was established by the First Council of Nicaea in 325 to be the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, the full moon on or soonest after 21 March (taken to be the date of the equinox). This ecclesiastical full moon is not necessarily on the astronomically correct date, causing Easter to be between March 22 and April 25. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian calendar. In this calendar the 21st of March corresponds, during the 21st century, to April 3 in the Gregorian calendar (Easter is thus celebrated between April 4 and May 8).

Easter is also a pagan festival, the celebration of the spring equinox, the coming of spring, the beginning of new life. It was the festival of the Saxon dawn-goddess Eostre, whose symbol was a hare or rabbit (hence the Eatster bunny). Eggs represent new life and are therefor used at Easter (decorated, egg hunting). In the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, Easter eggs are dyed red to represent the blood of Christ. The link between eggs and rabbits might have started with the Romans who believed that all life came from eggs. But Easter egg hunting began in America when German immigrants brought their Osterhase (Easter bunny) tradition to Pennsylvania in the 1700s. The festivity soon spread across the country, and baskets replaced nests.
In England, Germany and other countries, children traditionally rolled eggs down hillsides at Easter. In the United States, the Easter Egg Roll at the White House is an annual event that started in 1878, held on the White House South Lawn each Easter Monday for children and their parents. The original site of the Easter Monday Egg Roll was the grounds of the United States Capitol, but in 1876 the House of Representatives passed the Turf Protection Law which prohibited the area from being used as a playground in future years.

Easter:
a Christian church festival that celebrates the return of Jesus Christ to life following his death; also : the Sunday in early spring on which this festival is observed (source: Merriam Webster).

The English word Easter comes from Old English Easterdæg, from Eastre (Northumbrian Eostre), from Proto-Germanic *austron-, dawn, also the name of a goddess of fertility and spring (Eostre), perhaps originally of sunrise, whose feast was celebrated at the spring equinox, from *aust-, east, toward the sunrise, from Proto Indo European *aus-, to shine (source: etymonline.com).
Dutch Pasen, Spanish Pascua and Italian Pasqua come from Greek Πάσχα (Pascha) and Latin Pascha, Easter, from Hebrew פֶּסַח (Pesach), meaning passing over (God) or guarding (from the Torah).

Easter in other languages:
Dutch: Pasen
Spanish: Pascua
Italian: Pasqua

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