Easter is the most significant festival of the Western Christian year celebrated every year by the people of Christian religion to commemorate the rebirth of the Jesus Christ on the third day of his crucifixion (celebrated as the Good Friday) at Calvary. Easter is celebrated as the Easter Sunday, the 1st day of the Holy Easter Week. Easter Week starts from Easter Sunday and ends on Easter Saturday. The rebirth of the Jesus Christ makes the basis of Christian faith as it was seen that Jesus Christ was the real Son of God who won by defeating his death.
Easter festival 2017 would be celebrated specially by the people of Christian religion on 16th of April, at Sunday.
Easter Festival History
According to the Gospels, the first Easter Day (means 3rd day of the Jesus Christ death) was started from the early sunrise. A woman who found the tomb was empty and went to tell the news to other disciples of the Jesus Christ. Easter festival is celebrated as the result of Passion of Christ which starts by the Lent and a forty days fasting period including the prayer and penances. Holy Week is the last week of the Lent which has days of the Easter Triduum including Holy Thursday which commemorates the Last Supper and foot washing. Easter is celebrated in the continuation of Eastertide or Easter Season and ends with the Pentecost Sunday.
Easter festival date was first decided in the First Council of Nicaea, as “the first Sunday after the full moon following the March equinox”. The Easter celebration date varies from 22nd of March to the 25th of April. People from the Eastern Christianity calculate the Easter date according to the Julian calendar. Easter festival is much similar to the Passover. It is celebrated all over the world by the Christian people by performing sunrise services including Easter Bunny, Easter parades and egg hunting.
Earlier during the 2nd century, it was celebrated by the Christian as the Pascha (derived from term Pesach) means Passover (a Jewish festival commemorates the Exodus story) which is celebrated as Easter in the modern time.
Easter Festival significance
The rebirth of the Jesus Christ which is celebrated as the Easter festival became the foundation of Christian faith. The rebirth process made the Jesus Christ a most powerful Son of the God who had defeated the death and arisen from his grave. Christian gets their new hope of living and belief in God.
Jesus Christ had declared to his disciples about his death to the last Supper in the upper room in which he had indicated towards a cup of wine, body sacrifice and his blood to be shed. It is a ritual festival for the Christians which they celebrate in traditional and cultural way. It takes lots of preparations before a grand celebration. It involves the ritual preparation of the Passover, priest should be ritually pure to eat the passover (eating the Passover lamb) and etc.
How Easter Festival is Celebrated
Easter festival is celebrated close to the Passover by the people to commemorate the resurrection of the Jesus Christ. In the Western Christianity, it is started by the Lent means the time of fast and penitence. The preparation of the Easter begins on the Ash Wednesday and lasts forty days excluding the Sundays. Holy Week (week before Easter) is very ritual and special week of the Christian tradition, Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter, Spy Wednesday is the Wednesday before Easter, Maundy Thursday is the last three days before Easter, Good Friday and Holy Saturday (or Silent Saturday).
Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are celebrated in the Christian to commemorate the entry of Jesus Christ in the Jerusalem, Last Supper and Crucifixion of the Jesus Chris respectively. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday including the Holy Saturday is called as the Easter Triduum. Most of the churches start Easter celebration in the late evening at the Easter Vigil. In other countries, it is of two days celebration, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.
In the Eastern Christianity, Easter celebration takes spiritual preparation to get started with Great Lent (start from Clean Monday and ends at 40 days later including Sundays). Palm Week is the last week of the Great Lent which ends with the Lazarus Saturday followed by the Palm Sunday, Holy Week and the Easter. At the end, people break their fast just after the Paschal Divine Liturgy.
They perform the service of light and then numbers of readings are read from the Old Testament which tells the real stories of creation, Isaac sacrifice, Red Sea crossing and etc. They ring the church bells according to the custom and tradition. According to them Easter time is the ideal time to get converted to baptism and traditional festival to renew the baptismal faith vows. Praying people are sprinkled with holy water by the holy priest. Churches are decorated with the special banners and beautiful flowers like Easter lilies.
A procession also takes place in the early morning by the Myrrh bearers to the Tomb of Jesus where they make one or three round of the temple and then the procession ends at closed doors. A traditional meal called mageiritsa (cooked lamb liver with egg and lemon sauce) is distributed. At some places, a hard boiled Easter eggs, colored with red color (indicates the Blood of Christ), are broken (indicates the opening of Jesus Christ Tomb).
Rests of the week of the Easter are called as the Bright Week when all fast become prohibited. Bright Week celebration indicates the rise of the Jesus Christ from tomb. The services offered during the Bright Week are generally same as the Easter week.