Easter is the time of year when many folks are thinking of the Resurrection, parades, Easter baskets and egg hunts, the Easter bunny, chocolate shaped eggs and rabbits, jelly beans, peeps, and many other traditions that help to celebrate this springtime holiday.
Easter is a Christian festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The week before Easter is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Maundy and Last Supper, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. In western Christianity, Eastertide, the Easter Season, begins on Easter Sunday and lasts seven weeks, ending with the coming of the fiftieth day, Pentecost Sunday.
But unlike most days in the Christian calendar, Easter does not have a fixed date. Easter feast days are moveable days, in that they don’t fall on a fixed date in the normal Gregorian or Julian calendars, which follow the cycle of the sun. Easter instead is determined by the lunar calendar, which is based on the phases of the moon. Easter is scheduled to fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox around March 21. This year it falls on March 27th.
The Spring or March Vernal Equinox is the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north. So, in Western Christianity, Easter will always fall between March 22 and April 25.
The equinox occurs because of the tilt of the Earth in relation to the Sun. This is what causes the seasons. The Earth’s tilt is 23.5 degrees relative to the plane of its orbit and means that, although one revolution of the planet takes 24 hours, it’s different depending on the time of year.
During the summer time, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun, so we get longer days as more light falls on this part of the planet. In the winter time it’s the Southern Hemisphere that gets the majority of the light.
On the spring equinox, the Earth hits the turning point in its orbit where neither the North nor the South poles are tilted towards the sun. As a result, the Sun spends a roughly equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on the Earth, so night and day are about the same length. The word equinox is Latin for “equal night”.
Meteorologists use it as the official turning point in the seasons because – although it can vary from year to year, it allows for the most accurate record-keeping.
The eggs are a symbol of new life, used as a symbol of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. They can also be seen to represent Spring and celebrate rebirth and re-invigoration after the harshness of winter. This is why we see lots of chicks, lambs and other cute animals – it reminds us of the continuation of life.
The Easter Bunny (also called the Easter Rabbit or Easter Hare) is a folkloric figure and symbol of Easter, depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. Originating among German Lutherans, the “Easter Hare” originally played the role of a judge, evaluating whether children were good or disobedient in behavior at the start of the season of Eastertide. In legend, the creature carried colored eggs in his basket, candy, and sometimes toys to the homes of children.
So, however you are celebrating this Easter holiday, I hope you have an amazing time with friends and/or family that’s full of love, laughter and great memories!
Happy Easter Everyone!
What are your Easter Traditions?