Easter 101

Easter 101


What is Easter?

Easter is the oldest festival of the Christian Church. Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus on the third day after his crucifixion.

In the early Church, new converts sat in vigil during the night before Easter. Then they were baptized and received their first Holy Communion on Easter Day.

According to St. Bede (673-735), the name "Easter" was derived from the Saxon spring goddess, "Eostre." As in the case of Christmas, the Christian observance of Easter took the place of an existing pagan ritual.

Why does the date for Easter change every year?

The date for Easter is set in relation to the Jewish Passover. Since Jesus' Last Supper and crucifixion occurred during the feast of the Passover, Christ is seen as the Paschal lamb, the new sacrifice. So the Christian observance of Jesus' death and resurrection are forever tied to the Jewish Passover feast.

The date for Easter in the Western Church is set in relation to the Passover full moon. (The Eastern Church calculates the date differently.) The date for Easter always falls between March 21 and April 25. Learn more from your friends at Pockets about how the date of Easter is figured

What is the symbolism of the Easter lily?

The white lily stands for purity. It has traditionally been used in Christian art connected to Mary, the mother of Jesus. She has often been pictured with the angel Gabriel and Gabriel is coming to her with a spray of lilies in his hand to announce that she will be the mother of the Messiah. It is also a sign of the resurrection. It, like other flowers that come from bulbs seemingly die away then return with new life each year. Because they are white, they signify the pure new life that comes through the resurrection of Jesus.

How Long Is Easter?

Easter is observed for 50 days. Jesus’ ascension into heaven was 40 days after Easter. At the end of the 50 days (at the Jewish feast of Pentecost) the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples and the Christian church was born. (See Acts 2.) During the 50 days of the season of Easter, try the activity: “Connecting the Dots.” Explore scripture during the 50 days of the Easter season in order to discover how Old Testament stories, symbols, and festivals help us make sense of the Easter story. 

How can I observe Easter?

1. Attend an Easter service at your local church or in your community.

2. Read the devotional for today from The Upper Room daily devotional guide.

3. Pray this prayer for Easter.

4. Listen to a guided meditation of the Gospel Reading for Easter. 

5. If you have children in your household, make this Easter worship center.

6. Read “Peace Be With You.” This article explores the different ways people understand the meaning of peace, including the peace of Christ, and calls us to become peacemakers.

7. The resurrection calls us to restorative justice, to shalom #moyoliving

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Lent 101 • Holy Week 101 • Palm Sunday 101
Maundy Thursday 101 • Good Friday 101 • Holy Saturday 101 • Easter 101