. But the celebrations of Easter have many customs and legends that are pagan in origin and have nothing to do with Christianity
Scholars, accepting the derivation proposed by the 8th-century English scholar St. Bede, believe the name Easter is thought to come from the Scandinavian “Ostra” and the Teutonic “Ostern” or “Eastre,” both Goddesses of mythology signifying spring and fertility whose festival was celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox
Traditions associated with the festival survive in the Easter rabbit, a sy
The Christian celebration of Easter embodies a number of converging traditions with emphasis on the relation of Easter to the Jewish festival of Passover, or Pesach, from which is derived Pasch, another name used by Europeans for Easter. Passover is an important feast in the Jewish calendar which is celebrated for 8 days annnd commemorates the flight and freedom of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt
The early Christians, many of whom were of Jewish origin, were brought up in the Hebrew tradition and regarded Easter as a new feature of the Passover festival, a commemoration of the advent of the Messiah as foretold by the prophets. (For more information please visit our Passover celebration – Passover on the Net)
Easter is observed by the churches of the West on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or following the spring equinox (March 2I). So Easter became a “movable” feast which can occur as early as March 22 or as late as April 25
Christian churches in the East which were closer to the birthplace of the new religion and in which old traditions were strong, observe Easter according to the date of the Passover festival
Easter is at the end of the Lenten season, which covers a forty-six-day period that begins on Ash Wednesday and ennnds with Easter. The Lenten season itself comprises forty days, as the six Sundays in Lent are not actually a part of Lent. Sundays are considered a commemoration of Easter Sunday and have always been excluded from the Lenten fast. The Lenten season is a period of penitence in preparation for the highest festival of the church year, Easter
Holy Week, the last week of Lent, begins its with the observance of Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday takes its name from Jesus’ trrriumphal entry into Jerusalem where the crowds laid palms at his feet. Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, which was held the evening before the Crucifixion. Friday in Holy Week is the anniversary of the Crufixion, the day that Christ was crucified and died on the cross
Holy week and the Lenten season end with Easter Sunday, the day of resurrection of Jesus Christ
Easter Traditions and Origins
Easter traditions and symbols are abundant. But what are the origins of these Easter traditions? Learn the history of Easter traditions here.
The Easter Season
Easter is not only a holiday but a season unto itself. To many religious people, it marks a time of miracles and a reaffirming of faith. To those with a more secular view of the world, it is a celebration of the end of winter, a time to look toward the warmth of the coming summer and a chance to shed the heavy, dour clothing of the winter for the bright colors of spring.
Easter traditions and symbols are well known: the Easter Bunny, Easter eggs and Easter baskets have become hallmarks of this spring festival. Yet there is more to them than meets the eye. Let us examine these and other Easter traditions and symbols and see just how our modern day version of the Easter holiday developed and from where.
Origin and Traditions
Long before Easter became the holiday it is today, the spring festival was celebrated by the people around the world. Although associated with the sun and the Vernal Equinox, the celebration was originally based on the lunar calendar. The name Easter is derived from the Saxon Eostre (which is synonymous with the name of the Phoenician Goddess of the Moon, Astarte), a Germanic goddess of spring and the deity who measured time.
Curiously, a Jewish festival, Purim, also celebrated in the spring, has as it central character and heroine, Esther who, as queen, kept the evil Haman from killing her people. Even the very word moon derives from the Sanskrit mas or ma, meaning “to measure.”
Many scholars have suggested that the reason that the moon was chosen by the ancients as the way to measure time was the link between the female cycle and the cycle of the moon. A lunar month of 28 days gave 13 periods in 364 days, which was the solar equivalent of 52 weeks. The ancient Hebrews had long followed a lunar calendar, as had most other ancient cultures. Thus humans could match their natural lives with the nature of the night sky above them.
As Christianity grew and spread throughout the world, it was common practice to adopt, modify, convert or take over existing non-Christian festivals, sacred locations and even names, and assimilate them into the Christian theology. The Romans used this method of cultural absorption for centuries as a way of expanding and firming up the Empire. Given the fact that Christianity had its roots in Roman ways, it is not surprising that the same technique was used to spread belief in Christ.
The best example of this was in ancient Britain where the bearers of the Cross built their churches and monasteries on the very sites where far more ancient rites had been held.
Because Eostre, also know as Ostara, was the goddess of spring and her symbolism dealt with renewal and rebirth, the Christian belief in the resurrection of Christ fit well with these themes.
The connection between Christ’s Resurrection and Jewish Passover, which, in addition to the dramatic story of the flight from Egypt, also contains elements of a spring celebration, made the merging of the two religious traditions easily accomplished.