Easter is the most important religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, three days after his death by crucifixion. The year of his death and resurrection is variously estimated between the years of 26 and 36 AD.
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. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of prayer and penance. It is a moveable feast because it is not fixed to the calendar but its date varies depending on the cycle of the moon: Easter is the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first moon whose 14th day is on or after March 21 (Vernal Equinox).
The origin of the word "Easter" is not entirely certain but most probably comes from Estre, or Eoster, the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. The German word "Ostern" has the same deviation but most other languages follow the Greek term that was used by early Christians, "pascha" from the Hebrew "pesach" or passover.
As with many other Christian dates, the celebration of Easter extends beyond the religious community. Since its origins, it has been a time of celebration and feasting, and customs such as Egg decorating have become widely followed. Today Easter is a commercially relevant occasion, with wide sales of greeting cards and confectionery.
Many non-Christians follow these aspects of the holiday.
Gift Basket: Easter Fruit
Instead of just giving lots of chocolate eggs, why not be a little bit healthier and give a gorgeous fruit basket for Easter? It is a perfect spring gift!
Baby Gifts: Finger blanket
A lovely and useful gift for a baby is a finger blanket. Choose a silky and soft fabric for added comfort. Have it personalized with the baby's name if you want to make it more special.
Baby Gifts: Cuddling mat
A lovely and useful gift for a baby is a cuddling mat. Choose a silky and soft fabric with lots of padding for added comfort. Have it personalized with the baby's name if you want to make it more special.
For many Christians, the forty-day fasting period known as Lent, ends in a feast of seasonal and symbolic foods. In the late 17th century, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, girls working in service would take home to their mothers a rich fruit cake enriched with marzipan, known as Simnel cake. This might have been the only day of the year where the whole family got together. The cake was decorated with eleven marzipan balls representing the apostles - the twelfth one (Judas) was omitted because he betrayed Christ.
Throughout history, eggs have been associated with Easter. In ancient times the egg was a symbol of fertility and new beginnings and it was adopted by Christians to represent the resurrection of Christ. The first Easter Eggs in Europe were painted and decorated duck, goose or hen eggs and this tradition remains in some parts of the world today. Over time, the decoration has become more and more elaborate, with detailed images, colourful patterns and gold and silver leaf details being incorporated. The first chocolate Easter eggs appeared in Germany and France in the early 19th century, and their popularity spread quickly to the rest of Europe and beyond. The originally solid chocolate eggs have become the Easter gift of choice across the world.
The most famous Easter eggs of all must be the enamelled and jewel-encrusted gold eggs that French jeweller Carl Faberge was commissioned to make for the Russian imperial family. The first was made in 1885 as a gift from Tsar Alexander III to the empress Maria Fedorovna. Over the years a total of fifty-four eggs were made, all of them with a unique design and each containing a surprise. The collection was dispersed around the world after the Russian Revolution and only forty-two of these fabulous eggs survive. A Faberge egg created in 1902 for the Rothschild banking family was sold in London in 2007 for GBP 8.9 million.
Hot Cross Buns
The Greeks and Egyptians ate small cakes or buns in honour of the respective goddesses that they worshipped, and buns marked with a cross were eaten by the Saxons to honour their goddess Eostre. Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of crucifixion.
In Australia a chocolate version of the bun has become popular, with cocoa and chocolate chips being added to the dough, and in the Czech Republic "mazanec" is a similar bun and often has a cross on top.
Easter is the demonstration of God that life is essentially spiritual and timeless.
Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life.
The joyful news that He is risen does not change the contemporary world. Still before us lie work, discipline, sacrifice. But the fact of Easter gives us the spiritual power to do the work, accept the discipline, and make the sacrifice.
And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here.
Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer; Death is strong, but Life is stronger; Stronger than the dark, the light; Stronger than the wrong, the right...