The story of Easter
The name “Easter” itself derives from the name of the Saxon goddess of Spring and of the Dawn – Eastre. The name “Eastre” was also used to denote the ancient Norse festival of Spring sun, which celebrated the awakening of new life and the death of winter. The Christian Easter gradually replaced the pagan festival, although some of the rites of Spring are still retained. Easter commemorates Christ’s resurrection from the tomb where Hi had lain for three days after his crucifixion. When He was resurrected He did so to fulfill his promise as prooth of eternal life.
The Date of Easter
Jesus had gone to Jerusalem to participate in the Passover celebrations and was crucified after its first day. Consequently, for many years Easter was celebrated on this same date. Passover, however, was a movable festival, while Christians believed that Easter should always fall on a Sunday, the days Christ was resurrected. It was not until the year 325 A.D.
The Lenten Season
Lent is the forty-six day period just prior to Easter Sunday. It begins on Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras (French for “Fat Tuesday”) is a celebration, sometimes called “Carnival,” practiced around the world, on the Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday. It was designed as a way to “get it all out” before the sacrifices of Lent began.
The Easter Bunny and Egg
•The Easter Bunny is not a modern invention. The symbol originated with the pagan festival of Eastre. The goddess, Eastre, was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons through her earthly symbol, the rabbit. As with the Easter Bunny and the holiday itself, the Easter Egg predates the Christian holiday of Easter. The exchange of eggs in the springtime is a custom that was centuries old when Easter was first celebrated by Christians. From the earliest times, the egg was a symbol of rebirth in most cultures. Eggs were often wrapped in gold leaf or, if you were a peasant, colored brightly by boiling them with the leaves or petals of certain flowers. Today, children hunt colored eggs and place them in Easter baskets along with the modern version of real Easter eggs — those made of plastic or chocolate candy.
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