Happy Easter from the Sydney Times!
“THE TRUE MEANING AND CONTEXT OF EASTER
Easter, also called Pascha (Greek, Latin) or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day after his burial following his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD.It is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent (or Great Lent), a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.
Most Christians refer to the week before Easter as “Holy Week”, which 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, or the Easter Season, begins on Easter Sunday and lasts seven weeks, ending with the coming of the 50th day, Pentecost Sunday. In Eastern Christianity, the season of Pascha begins on Pascha and ends with the coming of the 40th day, the Feast of the Ascension.
Easter and the holidays that are related to it are moveable feasts which do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars which follow only the cycle of the Sun; rather, its date is offset from the date of Passover and is therefore calculated based on a lunisolar calendar similar to the Hebrew calendar. It has come to be the first Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or soonest after 21 March.Even if calculated on the basis of the more accurate Gregorian calendar, the date of that full moon sometimes differs from that of the astronomical first full moon after the March equinox.
Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In most European languages the feast is called by the words for passover in those languages; and in the older English versions of the Bible the term Easter was the term used to translate passover.Easter customs vary across the Christian world, and include sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church, and decorating Easter eggs (symbols of the empty tomb).
The Easter lily, a symbol of the resurrection traditionally decorates the chancel area of churches on this day and for the rest of Eastertide
Additional customs that have become associated with Easter and are observed by both Christians and some non-Christians include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades There are also various traditional Easter foods that vary regionally.
The New Testament states that the resurrection of Jesus, which Easter celebrates, is one of the chief tenets of the Christian faith. The resurrection established Jesus as the Son of God and is cited as proof that God will righteously judge the world.
For those who trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection, “death is swallowed up in victory.Any person who chooses to follow Jesus receives “a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. Through faith in the working of God those who follow Jesus are spiritually resurrected with him so that they may walk in a new way of life and receive eternal salvation, being physically resurrected to dwell in the Kingdom of Heaven.[
The Crucified Christ with the Virgin Mary, Saints and Angels (The Mond Crucifixion), about 1502-3
© The National Gallery, London
Easter is linked to Passover and the Exodus from Egypt recorded in the Old Testament through the Last Supper, sufferings, and crucifixion of Jesus that preceded the resurrection. According to the New Testament, Jesus gave the Passover meal a new meaning, as in the upper room during the Last Supper he prepared himself and his disciples for his death He identified the matzah and cup of wine as his body soon to be sacrificed and his blood soon to be shed. Paul states, “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” …;this refers to the Passover requirement to have no yeast in the house and to the allegory of Jesus as the Paschal lamb.
In Australia, because of its location in the southern hemisphere, Easter takes place in autumn. Hence, Australian Easter is associated with harvest time, rather than with the coming of spring as in the northern hemisphere.
The religious aspect of Easter remains the same Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays across all states and territories. “Easter Saturday” (the Saturday before Easter Sunday) is a public holiday in every state except Tasmania and Western Australia, while Easter Sunday itself is a public holiday only in New South Wales.
The egg is an ancient symbol of new life and rebirth.
“In Christianity it became associated with Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.The custom of the Easter egg originated in the early Christian community of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion.”
As such, for Christians, the Easter egg is a symbol of the empty tomb.The oldest tradition is to use dyed chicken eggs, but a modern custom is to substitute decorated chocolate, or plastic eggs filled with candy such as jellybeans. In some traditions the children put out their empty baskets for the Easter bunny to fill while they sleep. They wake to find their baskets filled with candy eggs and other treats.
A custom originating in Germany, the Easter Bunny is a popular legendary anthropomorphic Easter gift-giving character analogous to Santa Claus in American culture.
Many children around the world follow the tradition of coloring hard-boiled eggs and giving baskets of candy.
Easter eggs are a widely popular symbol of new life in Poland and other Slavic countries’ folk traditions. A batik-like decorating process known as pisanka produces intricate, brilliantly-colored eggs.
The celebrated House of Fabergé workshops created exquisite jewelled Easter eggs for the Russian Imperial family from 1885 to 1916.
One museum that I recommend visiting is the Fabergé Museum in St. Petersburg, a small, elegant museum that exhibits the favorite jewels of the czars, among which the famous Easter eggs are the most notable. It is located in downtown St. Petersburg in a beautiful, recently restored 18th century palace.
*The Sydney Times acknowledges the use of Wikepedia to compile this article.