Presentation on theme: "Easter. Easter is the most important religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. Easter also refers to the season of the church year called."— Presentation transcript:
Easter is the most important religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. Easter also refers to the season of the church year called Eastertide or the Easter Season. Traditionally the Easter Season lasted for the forty days from Easter Day until Ascension Day but now officially lasts for the fifty days until Pentecost. The first week of the Easter Season is known as Easter Week or the Octave of Easter. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of prayer and penance.
Easter is termed a moveable feast because it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. Easter falls at some point between late March and late April each year (early April to early May in Eastern Christianity), following the cycle of the moon. Easter is the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first moon whose 14th day (the ecclesiastic “full moon”) is on or after March 21 (the ecclesiastic “vernal equinox”).
The New Testament links the Last Supper and Jesus’ crucifixion with Passover and the Exodus from Egypt. As Jesus prepared himself and his disciples for his death in the upper room during the Last Supper, he gave the Passover meal a new meaning. An alternative interpretation of the Gospel of John is that Jesus, as the Passover lamb, was crucified at roughly the same time as the lamb was slain, at twilight on Nisan 14.
The modern English term Easter developed from the Old English word ēastre or ēostre, which itself developed prior to 899. The name refers to the Eostur-monath, a month of the Germanic calendar which may have been named for the goddess ēostre in Anglo-Saxon paganism, attested by Bede.
The first Christians, Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians, were certainly aware of the Hebrew calendar (Acts 2:1; 12:3; 20:6; 27:9; 1 Cor 16:7), and there is no direct evidence that they celebrated any specifically Christian annual festivals. The observance by Christians of non-Jewish annual festivals is believed by some to be an innovation postdating the Early Church.
Perhaps the earliest extant primary source referencing Easter is a mid-2nd century Paschal homily attributed to Melito of Sardis.
By the later second century, it was accepted that the celebration of Easter was a practice of the disciples and an undisputed tradition. A dispute arose concerning the date on which Pascha (Easter) should be celebrated. This dispute came to be known as the Quartodeciman controversy, and it was the first of several Paschal/Easter controversies.
It is not known how long the Nisan 14 practice continued. But both those who followed the Nisan 14 custom, and those who set Easter to the following Sunday (the Sunday of Unleavened Bread) had in common the custom of consulting their Jewish neighbors to learn when the month of Nisan would fall, and setting their festival accordingly.
This controversy between those who advocated independent computations, and those who wished to continue the custom of relying on the Jewish calendar, was formally resolved by the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which endorsed the move to independent computations, effectively requiring the abandonment of the old custom of consulting the Jewish community in those places where it was still used. That the older custom did not at once die out, but persisted for a time, is indicated by the existence of canons and sermons against it.
Easter and the holidays that are related to it are moveable feasts, in that they do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars (both of which follow the cycle of the sun and the seasons). Instead, the date for Easter is determined on a lunisolar calendar, as is the Hebrew calendar. The precise date of Easter has at times been a matter for contention.
The rule has since the Middle Ages been phrased as Easter is observed on the Sunday after the first full moon on or after the day of the vernal equinox. However, this does not reflect the actual ecclesiastical rules precisely. Easter is determined on the basis of lunisolar cycles.
In determining the date of the Gregorian and Julian Easter a lunisolar cycle is followed. In determining the date of the Jewish Passover a lunisolar calendar is also used, and Easter usually falls up to a week after the first day of Passover (Nisan 15 in the Hebrew calendar). However, the differences in the rules between the Hebrew and Gregorian cycles results in Passover falling about a month after Easter in three years of the 19-year cycle. These occur in years 3, 11, and 14 of the Gregorian 19-year cycle (corresponding respectively to years 19, 8, and 11 of the Jewish 19-year cycle).
The reason for the difference is the different scheduling of embolismic months in the two cycles. Because the Julian calendar’s implicit solar year has drifted further over the centuries than the those of the Gregorian or Hebrew calendars, Julian Easter is a lunation later than Gregorian Easter in five years out of nineteen, namely years 3, 8,11, 14, and 19 of the Christian cycle.
All the Eastern Orthodox countries that subsequently adopted the Revised Julian calendar adopted only that part of the revised calendar that applied to festivals falling on fixed dates in the Julian calendar. At a summit in Aleppo, Syria, in 1997, the World Council of Churches proposed a reform in the calculation of Easter which would have replaced the present divergent practices of calculating Easter with modern scientific knowledge taking into account actual astronomical instances of the spring equinox and full moon based on the meridian of Jerusalem, while also following the Council of Nicea position of Easter being on the Sunday following the full moon.
The recommended WCC changes would have side-stepped the calendar issues and eliminated the difference in date between the Eastern and Western churches. The reform was proposed for implementation starting in 2001, but it was not ultimately adopted by any member body.
In Western Christianity, Easter marks the end of Lent, a period of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter which begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts forty days (not counting Sundays). The week before Easter, known as Holy Week, is very special in the Christian tradition. The Sunday before Easter is Palm Sunday and the last three days before Easter are Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday (sometimes referred to as Silent Saturday). Eastertide, or Paschaltide, the season of Easter, begins on Easter Sunday and lasts until the day of Pentecost, seven weeks later.
In Eastern Christianity, the spiritual preparation for Pascha begins with Great Lent, which starts on Clean Monday and lasts for 40 continuous days (including Sundays). The last week of Great Lent (following the fifth Sunday of Great Lent) is called Palm Week, and ends with Lazarus Saturday. The Vespers which begins Lazarus Saturday officially brings Great Lent to a close, although the fast continues through the following week. After Lazarus Saturday comes Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and finally Pascha itself, and the fast is broken immediately after the Paschal Divine Liturgy. The Paschal Vigil begins with the Midnight Office, which is the last service of the Lenten Triodion and is timed so that it ends a little before midnight on Holy Saturday night. At the stroke of midnight the Paschal celebration itself begins, consisting of Paschal Matins, Paschal Hours, and Paschal Divine Liturgy. Placing the Paschal Divine Liturgy at midnight guarantees that no Divine Liturgy will come earlier in the morning, ensuring its place as the pre-eminent “Feast of Feasts” in the liturgical year.
The liturgical season from Pascha to the Sunday of All Saints (the Sunday after Pentecost) is known as the Pentecostarion (the “fifty days”). The week which begins on Easter Sunday is called Bright Week, during which there is no fasting, even on Wednesday and Friday. The Afterfeast of Pascha lasts 39 days, with its Apodosis (leave-taking) on the day before Ascension. Pentecost Sunday is the fiftieth day from Pascha (counted inclusively). Although the Pentecostarion ends on the Sunday of All Saints, Pascha’s influence continues throughout the following year, determining the daily Epistle and Gospel readings at the Divine Liturgy, the Tone of the Week, and the Matins Gospels all the way through to the next year’s Lazarus Saturday.
The Easter festival is kept in many different ways among Western Christians. The traditional, liturgical observation of Easter, as practised among Roman Catholics and some Lutherans and Anglicans begins on the night of Holy Saturday with the Easter Vigil. The Easter Vigil concludes with the celebration of the Eucharist (or ‘Holy Communion’).
Additional celebrations are usually offered on Easter Sunday itself. In predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, the morning of Easter is marked with joyous celebration, the first being the dawn “Salubong.” This is followed by the joyous Easter Mass. In Polish culture, The Rezurekcja (Resurrection Procession) is the joyous Easter morning Mass at daybreak when church bells ring out and explosions resound to commemorate Christ rising from the dead.
Pascha is the fundamental and most important festival of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches. Preparation for Pascha begins with the season of Great Lent. In addition to fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, Orthodox Christians cut down on all entertainment and non-essential worldly activities, gradually eliminating them until Great and Holy Friday, the most austere day of the year.
This procession reenacts the journey of the Myrrhbearers to the Tomb of Jesus “very early in the morning” (Luke 24:1). After circling around the temple once or three times, the procession halts in front of the closed doors. In the Greek practice the priest reads a selection from the Gospel Book (Mark 16:1-8).
Immediately after the Liturgy it is customary for the congregation to share a meal, essentially an Agápē dinner (albeit at 2:00 a.m. or later). In Greece the traditional meal is mageiritsa, a hearty stew of chopped lamb liver and wild greens seasoned with egg- and-lemon sauce. Traditionally, Easter eggs, hard-boiled eggs dyed bright red to symbolize the spilt Blood of Christ and the promise of eternal life, are cracked together to celebrate the opening of the Tomb of Christ.
As with many other Christian dates, the celebration of Easter extends beyond the church. Since its origins, it has been a time of celebration and feasting and many Traditional Easter games and customs developed, such as Egg rolling, Egg tapping, Pace egging and Egg decorating.
Throughout North America, New Zealand and Australia the Easter holiday has been partially secularized. Chocolate eggs have largely supplanted decorated eggs in New Zealand and Australia. In North America, parents tell their children that eggs and other treats have been delivered and hidden by the Easter Bunny in an Easter basket which children find waiting for them when they wake up. In the UK children still decorate eggs, but most British people simply exchange chocolate eggs on the Sunday.
FFlemish-speaking Belgium shares many of the same traditions as North America but sometimes it’s said that the Bells of Rome bring the Easter eggs together with the Easter Bunny. SSimilarly, in French-speaking Belgium and France, “Easter bells” also bring Easter eggs.
In Norway, in addition to cross-country skiing in the mountains and painting eggs for decorating, a contemporary tradition is to solve murder mysteries at Easter. In Finland, Sweden and Denmark, traditions include egg painting and small children dressed as witches collecting candy door-to-door, in exchange for decorated pussy willows. This is a result of the mixing of an old Orthodox tradition (blessing houses with willow branches) and the Scandinavian Easter witch tradition..
In the northern and eastern parts of the Netherlands (Twente and Achterhoek), Easter Fires (in Dutch: “Paasvuur”) are lit on Easter Day at sunset. Easter Fires also take place on the same day in large portions of Northern Germany (“Osterfeuer”).
Many eastern European ethnic groups, including the Ukrainians, Belarusians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Croats, Czechs, Lithuanians, Poles, Romanians, Serbs, Macedonians, Slovaks, and Slovenes decorate eggs for Easter. In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a tradition of spanking or whipping is carried out on Easter Monday.
In Hungary, Transylvania, Southern Slovakia, Kárpátalja, Northern Serbia - Vojvodina and other territories with Hungarian-speaking communities, the day following Easter is called Locsoló Hétf?, “Ducking Monday”. Water, perfume or perfumed water is often sprinkled in exchange for an Easter egg.
Easter traditions deemed “pagan” by some Reformation leaders, along with Christmas celebrations, were among the first casualties of some areas of the Protestant Reformation. Other Reformation Churches, such as the Lutheran and Anglican, retained a very full observance of the Church Year. Some groups feel that Easter (or, as they prefer to call it, “Resurrection Sunday” or “Resurrection Day”) is properly regarded with great joy: not marking the day itself, but remembering and rejoicing in the event it commemorates—the miracle of Christ’s resurrection.
Other groups, such as the Sabbatarian Church of God celebrate a Christian Passover that lacks most of the practices or symbols associated with Western Easter and retains more of the presumed features of the Passover observed by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper.
In the modern-day United States, there have been instances where public mention of Easter and Good Friday have been replaced with euphemistic terminology. Examples include renaming “Good Friday” as “Spring holiday” on school calendars, to avoid association with a Christian holiday while at the same time allowing a state-sanctioned day off.