DID YOU KNOW . . . Easter

Today is the celebration of Easter, a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of
Jesus Christ. Easter is celebrated on a specific Sunday in late March or early April followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday. The festival is sometimes referred to by a variety of different names including Easter Day, Easter Sunday, Resurrection Day and Resurrection Sunday.

Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The
date of Easter is calculated as the first Sunday after the full moon following the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox. Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on March 21 (even though the equinox occurs, astronomically speaking, on March 20 in most years), and the “Full Moon” is not necessarily the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies between March 22 and April 25.

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many languages, the words for “Easter” and “Passover” are etymologically related or homonymous. Easter customs may vary greatly across the Christian world, but decorating Easter eggs is a common motif.

In many Christian Churches, including many Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and many others, special celebrations are usually offered on Easter Sunday. Typically these
follow the usual order of Sunday services in a congregation, but they often incorporate more highly festive elements. The music of the service, in particular, often displays a highly festive tone; the incorporation of brass instruments (trumpets, etc.) to supplement a congregation’s usual instrumentation is common. Often a congregation’s worship space is decorated with special banners and flowers (such as Easter lilies). Anciently, Easter was
considered the ideal time for converts to receive baptism, and this practice is still common with many Christian traditions to this day.

Among certain Christian Churches, including Episcopalians, Lutherans and Roman Catholics, there is a special liturgical observation for Easter which begins on the night
of Holy Saturday with the Easter Vigil liturgy. This celebration, considered the most important liturgy of the year, begins in total darkness with the blessing of the Easter fire and the lighting of the large Paschal candle (symbolic of the Risen Christ). This is followed by a number of readings from the Old Testament telling the stories of creation, the crossing of the Red Sea, and other readings considered foretellings of the coming of the Messiah.

There are still ther Christian denominations which do not celebrate Easter at all for a variety f reasons, preferring instead to celebrate it as any other Sunday. One example
of this is the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), who as part of their historic testimony against times and seasons, do not celebrate or observe Easter or any other Church holidays, believing instead that “every day is the Lord’s day”.

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