Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the most important
Christian festival, and the one celebrated with the greatest joy.
The gospels tell us that Christ's death and resurrection took place during
Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Passover is a festival that always
falls on the evening of the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. The
Feast of Unleavened Bread follows immediately on 15 Nisan and lasts seven days.
So, the Passover day is said to be a "Day of Preparation" and the Feast of
Unleavened Bread as a "High Day Sabbath". Standing is a symbol of rising
and resurrection is the posture for the confession of sins and the reception
of Holy Communion.
Christians celebrate this day in observance of their belief that Jesus Christ
rose from the dead two days after his crucifixion. Easter Sunday is the
principal feast of the ecclesiastical year.
Easter marks the end of Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and
penance. The last week of the Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains
On Good Friday, Jesus Christ was executed by crucifixion. His body was taken
down from the cross, and buried in a cave. The tomb was guarded and an enormous
stone was put over the entrance, so that no-one could steal the body. Easter
is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar.
On the following Sunday, some women visited the grave and found that the
stone had been moved, and that the tomb was empty. Jesus himself was seen
that day, and for days afterwards by many people. His followers realised that
God had raised Jesus from the dead.
The word they used for the celebration was 'Pascha'. Pascha is the fundamental
and most important festival of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches.
Easter customs vary across the Christian world, but decorating Easter eggs
is a common motif. In the Western world, customs such as egg hunting and the
Easter Bunny extend from the domain of church, and often have a secular
The Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches calculate Pascha (Easter
Sunday) differently. Easter eggs symbolise new life. The first eggs given at
this festival were birds eggs. These eggs were painted in bright colours to
give them further meaning as a gift.
Worship during this time features the prominent return of the "Glory in the
highest" and "Praise the Lord", expressions of joy and praise that were
removed from the liturgy at the beginning of Lent.
An old custom that is observed in some churches is that kneeling is done away
with on Easter Sunday. Chancels and sanctuaries are usually decorated with
banners and flowers, especially Easter lilies. White, symbolic of gladness and
holiness, is the liturgical color for all the Sundays of Easter.
The paschal candle is an ancient symbol of the risen Jesus and commonly used
in liturgical parishes during the Great Fifty Days of Easter. It is a very
large white candle, the largest and tallest of all sanctuary candles. The
paschal candle is allowed to shine continuously.
In many ancient cultures, eggs were a common symbol of new life. In medieval
times, Eggs came to represent the Lord's resurrection. Just as Christ broke
out of the tomb on Easter morning, the yolk of the egg breaks out of its shell
when cracked. The decoration of eggs for Easter is part of the folk traditions
of many cultures, although it has little or no religious significance any more.
The Easter rabbit is a popular secular symbol for Easter that has never taken
on a Christian interpretation. It seems to have originated from the hare, a
symbol of fertility in ancient Egypt and later on in parts of Europe. It is
not altogether clear how the Easter rabbit became associated with the laying
Every year Easter day will differ but the joys of christians will not.