Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, is not on a set date every year as most other holidays are. It is always celebrated on a Sunday immediately following the Paschal (Passover) Full Moon date of the year. Easter is the Sunday after the first full moon on or after the day of the vernal equinox. The dates for Easter can range from March 22 through April 25 in western Christianity. The Paschal Full Moon can vary as much as two days from the date of the actual full moon, with dates from March 21 to April 18. (Vernal has to do with spring; equinox is the time when the sun crosses the equator, making night and day of equal length.)
The day before Lent, known as Fat Tuesday, is the last fling of food and fun before the fasting begins. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, a time when ashes were used to make the Cross’s sign on the forehead of the believer. Then, the week preceding Easter is known as Holy Week and includes Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with His disciples; Good Friday, which was the day of His crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, which focuses on the transition between crucifixion and resurrection. Next, the fifty-day period following Easter Sunday is called Eastertide; this includes a celebration of Jesus’ ascension into Heaven. The word “Lent” comes from an Anglo-Saxon word, “Lenten,” meaning spring.
The Easter bunny was said to have been introduced in America by German settlers arriving in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. According to legend, the Easter bunny brings baskets filled with colored eggs and candy to the homes of “good” children on the night before Easter. It was also a custom for the children to build brightly colored nests, sometimes out of their caps or bonnets, for the bunny or Easter Hare to place eggs in the nest if the children had been good. (Sounds as though this custom could have been borrowed from Christmas, doesn’t it.) The first edible Easter bunnies were made of pastry and sugar and were introduced in Germany during the early 1800s.
As we think about the significance of Easter, we should consider the real meaning of this season. Spring itself is a time for awakening, renewal, and a new beginning. Even though Easter is a serious and thoughtful time of year, all of us can enjoy hiding Easter eggs and have family gatherings to celebrate as we are reminded of the significance of the season. Unfortunately, an unexpected issue clouds Easter just a bit because of the new rules regarding the pandemic. Hopefully, we will soon see our lives improve as we get closer to how things were before the Coronavirus interruption.
Happy Easter, everyone! Here comes the “sugar rush” from all the candy!!!