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Happy Easter Sunday

easter-sunday-imageChristians around the world – Orthodox, Catholics, or Protestants – view and practice Easter with such great importance. Easter celebration is a pivoting point for all other religious feasts and ceremonies for Christians.

What is Easter Sunday?

The Lenten season that includes the Holy week is celebrated before the Easter and the Easter celebration is observed thereafter. The celebration is held to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his death on the cross. Christ’s resurrection is fundamental in the Christian faith. The Holy Bible records Apostle Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 15:14-17 asserting that if Jesus Christ has not been raised from the dead, their preaching and faith is useless and moreover, they are false witnesses of Christ’s resurrection. It can be said then that Easter equates Christianity.

Where Easter Came From?

The word Easter has no clear origin. It is possible that it was derived from the Anglo-Saxon word Estre, the name of the goddess of spring. However, most languages use the Greek term pascha for Easter which was derived from the Hebrew word Pesach which means Passover. The Latin word for Easter is Festa Paschalia. Hence, many terms for the word Easter were born from this origin such as Pâques in French, Pasqua in Italian, Pascua in Spanish, Pask in Scottish and Swedish, Paschen in Dutch, and Paaske in Danish.

Celebration of Easter

The celebration of Easter poses common features among the Roman Catholics, Christian Orthodox, and Protestants which include religious activities like baptism, Eucharist, feasting, and expressing greetings of “Christ is risen!” However, the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and the Anglican Church celebrate Easter by a vigil.

The vigil entails lighting of the paschal candle, giving lessons known as Prophecies, blessing of the font and baptism, and then carrying out the mass of Easter. In contrast, the Orthodox churches make a procession outside their church as a symbol of searching the disappeared body of Christ in the tomb and to eventually realize that Jesus Christ has risen. Upon return to the church, the people lit candles and lamps to symbolize the glory of the risen Savior. This is followed by the ceremonial taking of the Eucharist.

The Protestant Churches, on the other hand, celebrate Easter by holding a sunrise service. The sunrise service is done to represent the event when Mary Magdalene looked for Jesus’ body while still early and dark and found it empty. Such are the usual practices of the Christians to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But celebration of the Easter today has evolved to include the well-known items called the Easter eggs. Colorful eggs are used in decorations, games, and treats during Easter Sunday.

The incorporation of eggs in Easter has pagan origins. It was derived from the fertility feasts of the European and Middle Eastern religion. It is for this reason why some Christians disapprove the use of Easter eggs in celebrating the holiday. However, for other Christians, the use of Easter eggs symbolizes their newfound life in Jesus Christ.

History of Easter Sunday

Traditionally, Easter is celebrated on a Sunday. History even traces Christian churches celebrating Easter every Sunday. The celebration includes ceremonies of reading the Scripture, saying the psalms, doing the Eucharist, and banning kneeling when praying. Eventually, in the course of its history, Christians decided to make a once in a year celebration of the Easter.

However, much debate arose as to what specific day of the year the celebration should be held. The dilemma of choosing the day of Easter celebration revolved around the issue of whether it is to be celebrated only during the Passover of the Jews which may fall on different days or only on a Sunday. All other Christians except the ones in Asia opted to celebrate it on a Sunday thereby disclaiming the belief that it should be celebrated only during the Jewish Passover feast.

The church resolved this problem by issuing a decree that Christ’s resurrection be only celebrated on a Sunday and no other day, therefore, should be used to celebrate the Easter and to observe the end of the paschal fast. Given this decree, another crisis had to be addressed. A unanimous decision must be done to choose which Sunday the celebration of Christ’s resurrection should be held. This is in order for everyone to celebrate Easter on the same Sunday.

Through the Council of Nicea in 325, it was decided that the common celebration for Easter should be on the first Sunday that follows the paschal moon after the occurrence of the spring equinox. But there was a variation in the use of paschal cycles by the Roman Empire and Alexandria in determining the date for the Easter. Rome used the 84-year lunar cycle while Alexandria practiced the 19-year cycle. This difference in the use of paschal cycles accounts for the difference in the Easter dates between the Western Christians and the Eastern Christians.

Easter Sunday Dates

To determine the date of the Easter, Western Christians used the first full moon after the spring equinox, which is March 21, as basis for calculation. So the first Sunday that follows the first full moon after the spring equinox is the day for the Easter celebration for the Western churches. Thus, the Western churches calculate the date of Easter to occur between the dates of March 22 to April 25 while the Eastern churches, which adopted the Julian calendar, calculated their date of Easter as April 3. Resolution for a common Easter date worldwide has yet to be made.

When is Easter Sunday 2013?

This year, Easter Sunday will fall on March 31, 2013.

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