What is Easter?
Why do we celebrate Easter?
One of the two major religious festivals of Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, also known as Easter. It is always celebrated on a Sunday and is the first day after what is known as Holy Week. This week long series of religious observances begin on Palm Sunday and end the day before Easter Sunday, a week later.
This day commemorates the day when the people of Jerusalem welcomes Jesus into the city by laying down their garments and palm fronds on the path. Palm is a symbol of victory in the Jewish tradition and therefore on Palm Sunday, people go to church to where palms that are fashioned into the shape of a cross are blessed and handed out to the entire congregation. Usually these crosses are kept until the following year when they are burnt for a celebration known as Ash Wednesday.
It is believed that Jesus broke break with his disciples for the last time on a Thursday night. The act where Jesus blessed bread and wine and shared it with his followers as symbols of his body and blood that would soon be sacrificed, is a ritual that is carried out in churches at every gathering or ‘mass’.
Good Friday – After Jesus was tried in both a Roman and a Jewish court, he was sentenced to death. The Roman court found that he was innocent of any crime but the sentencing was carried out anyway because of pressure from the Jewish community.
After he was executed by crucifixion, Jesus’ body was taken down and enclosed in a tomb. When the women from his family went to the tomb to lay offerings, the stone-gate was pushed aside and the body had vanished. Christians believe that a miracle was performed on this day where Jesus came back to life and was assumed into heaven where he continues to be always.
Easter Sunday is not part of holy week, but a stand alone festival that also marks the end of the period of fasting known as lent. Like on Christmas eve, Easter is mostly celebrated as a vigil the night before. The ceremony begins a couple of hours before midnight and with hymns being sung and a recitation of the prayers known as the rosary.
The celebration begins in total darkness with the blessing of the Easter candle. This ritual symbolizes that the resurrection of Jesus is like the coming of light into our lives. It is also a traditional time for babies to receive baptism and be initiated into Christianity.rosary.
On Easter, since it is the end of a 40 day period of fasting, families get together for a large feast. It is a time for families to come together. The tradition of eating chocolate or marzipan eggs is celebrated the world over. A fictional rabbit known as the Easter Bunny is supposed to bring little children colored eggs and chocolate. Parents will also organise Easter-egg hunts where they will hide eggs around a particular area and have all the children find them after lunch.
Where did the idea of the Easter bunny come from? Can you find out? The day before ash Wednesday is called Pancake Tuesday? Research why people eat pancakes on this day.
- How to make a Silk Dyed Easter Egg
To read more interesting festivals for kids, click HERE.