Easter Sunday: a Sunday of hope and joy

Easter Sunday: a Sunday of hope and joy

The origin of the name:

Easter, Latin Easter, Greek Easter, the main feast of the Christian church, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion on Friday. The earliest recorded celebration of an Easter celebration dates back to the 2nd century, although the commemoration of Jesus’ resurrection likely took place much earlier.

This year Easter is celebrated on Sunday April 4, 2021.

The English word Easter, parallel to the German word Ostern, is of uncertain origin. There is now a large consensus that the word derives from the Christian designation of Easter week as in albis, a Latin expression which was understood as the plural of alba (“dawn”) and became eostarum in old top German, the forerunner of modern German. and English term. Latin and Greek Pascha (“Passover”) provide the root of Páscoa, the Portuguese word for Easter, from which the word konknni Pask or Paskh is derived.

The date of Easter and its controversies:

The fixing of the date on which the resurrection of Jesus was to be observed and celebrated sparked a major controversy among early Christians in which an Eastern position and a Western position can be distinguished. The dispute, known as the Paschal controversies, was not finally resolved until the 8th century. In Asia Minor, Christians observed the day of the crucifixion on the same day that the Jews celebrated the Passover offering, which is the 14th day of the first full moon in spring, Nisan 14. The Resurrection was therefore observed two days later, on Nisan 16, regardless of the day of the week. In the West, Jesus’ resurrection was celebrated on the first day of the week, Sunday, when Jesus had risen from the dead. Therefore, Easter was always celebrated on the first Sunday after the 14th day of the month of Nisan. More and more, churches have opted for the celebration of Sunday, and the Quartodecimans (supporters of the 14th day) have remained in the minority. The Council of Nicaea in 325 decreed that Easter should be observed on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox (March 21). Easter can therefore fall on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25.

The Eastern Churches use a slightly different calculation based on the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar (which is 13 days ahead of the former), so the Orthodox Easter celebration for them usually takes place later than the one celebrated. by Protestants and Catholics.

In the 20th century, several attempts were made to arrive at a fixed date for Easter, with the Sunday following the second Saturday in April being specifically offered. While this proposal and others had many supporters, none came to fruition. A renewed interest in a fixed date arose at the start of the 21st century, resulting from discussions involving leaders of the Eastern Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Coptic, Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, but a formal agreement on such a date has remained elusive.

Theological aspect:

The resurrection of Jesus, celebrated by Easter, is one of the fundamental principles of the Christian faith. The resurrection established Jesus as the Son of God and is cited as proof that God will judge the world in righteousness. For those who trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus, “death is swallowed up in victory.” Anyone who chooses to follow Jesus receives “a new birth in living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” By faith in the work of God, those who follow Jesus are resurrected spiritually with him so that they can follow a new way of life and receive eternal salvation, being resurrected physically to dwell in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Easter is linked to the Passover and the Exodus of Israel from Egypt recorded in the Old Testament through the Last Supper, the sufferings and the crucifixion of Jesus which preceded the resurrection. According to the three Synoptic Gospels, Jesus gave the Passover meal a new meaning, because in the upper room during the Last Supper, he prepared himself and his disciples for his death. He identified the bread and the cup of wine as his body, which will soon be sacrificed, and his blood, which will soon be shed. Paul says, “Get rid of the old yeast so that you can be a new batch without yeast, as you really are. For Christ our paschal lamb was sacrificed ”; it refers to the Passover requirement to have no leaven in the house and the allegory of Jesus as the paschal lamb.

Easter :

In the Christian calendar, Easter follows Lent, the 40-day period (not counting Sundays) before Easter, which is traditionally observed through acts of penance and fasting. Easter is immediately preceded by Holy Week, which includes Holy Thursday, the commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples; Good Friday, the day of his crucifixion; and on Holy Saturday, the transition between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Liturgically, Easter comes after the Great Vigil, which was originally observed between sunset on Easter Saturday and sunrise on Easter Sunday. Later it would be celebrated in Western churches on Saturday evening, then Saturday afternoon, and finally Sunday morning. In 1955, the Roman Catholic Church set the time for the vigil at 10 p.m., which made it possible to celebrate Easter Mass after midnight. In Orthodox traditions, the vigil continues to be an important liturgical event, while in Protestant churches it is little known.

In the 4th century, the paschal vigil was well established in various liturgical expressions. It was characterized by a spirit of joyful anticipation of the Resurrection and — because of the belief that Jesus ‘second coming would occur at Easter — Jesus’ return. In the Roman Catholic tradition, the paschal vigil has four components: 1. the celebration of lights centered on the paschal candle; 2. the service of the liturgy of the word which consists of readings from the Old and New Testaments; 3. the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation to converted adults; 4. and the Easter Mass.

The use of the paschal candle, to denote the appearance of light out of darkness through the Resurrection, was first recorded in AD 384; by the 10th century, it had gained general use. The importance of baptism at Easter dates back to early Christianity, probably in the 4th century, when baptism was only administered once a year, at Easter. In the Roman Catholic service, the priest blesses the water that will be used the following year for baptism, the faithful taking some of this holy water with them to protect themselves from the vicissitudes. The Lutheran and Anglican churches use variations of this watch service.

All Christian traditions have their own special liturgical accents for Easter. The Easter sunrise service, for example, is a distinctive Protestant observance in North America. The practice may derive from the Gospel account of the resurrection of Jesus, which states that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb “while it was still dark” (John 20: 1) or at dawn (Matthew 28: 1 and Luke 24: 1). It is a service of jubilation that takes place when the sun rises to dispel the darkness.

Easter traditions:

Easter, like Christmas, has accumulated a large number of traditions, some of which have little to do with the Christian celebration of the Resurrection but derive from popular customs. The custom of the paschal lamb appropriates both the name used for Jesus in the Scriptures (“here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”, John 1:29) and the role of the lamb as a sacrificial animal in ancient Israel. In ancient times, Christians placed lamb meat under the altar, had it blessed, and then ate it at Easter. Since the 12th century, the Lenten fast has ended at Easter with meals including eggs, ham, cheeses, bread and sweets which have been blessed for the occasion.

The use of painted and decorated Easter eggs was first recorded in the 13th century. The church banned the consumption of eggs during Holy Week, but the hens continued to lay during that week, and the notion of specially identifying these as “Holy Week” eggs resulted in their decoration. The egg itself has become a symbol of the resurrection. Just as Jesus came out of the tomb, the egg symbolizes new life emerging from the eggshell. In the Orthodox tradition, the eggs are painted red to symbolize the blood that Jesus shed on the cross.

The custom of associating a bunny or a bunny with Easter originated in Protestant regions of Europe in the 17th century, but only became common in the 19th century. The Easter Bunny is said to lay the eggs, decorate them and hide them. In the United States, the Easter Bunny also leaves baskets of toys and candy for children on Easter morning. In a way, it was a manifestation of the Protestant rejection of Catholic Easter customs. In some European countries, however, other animals – in Switzerland the cuckoo, in Westphalia the fox – brought the Easter eggs.

The keywords for Easter are Hallelujah (Praise the Lord) and Shalom (Peace). Both are Hebrew words. May Hallelujah and Shalom fill our beings and the entire universe during the Easter season.

Alicia R. Rucker