I had this terrific post scheduled for today. It was going to be in addition to my regular Friday’s Fabulous Facts, post, and I spent a full two days working on it. Perhaps someday I will tell the story of the whole fiasco, but suffice it to say, the story and the photos will not be posted any time soon. I suppose it is rather funny, but my sensibilities are still a bit raw, so please forgive me for this delayed Friday post. Because I have been delayed, I feel fortunate that today, according to the April A to Z Blogging Challenge is the “F” day! An FFF post fills the bill!
In lieu of that fabulous post, I present to you instead, some Fabulous Facts for Friday all about Easter. Hope you enjoy them!
Easter is a Christian “movable feast,” meaning its date varies from year to year according to the liturgical calendar. Western churches use the Gregorian calendar for their calculations, and Eastern Orthodox churches use the Julian calendar (the older calendar of the two). Consequently, Easter is almost always celebrated by the two traditions on different Sundays, with only an occasional year in which the dates coincide.
Easter is calculated as the first Sunday after the paschal full moon that occurs on or after the vernal equinox. If the full moon falls on a Sunday, then Easter is the following Sunday. The holiday can occur anywhere between March 22 and April 25.
The Western church does not use the actual, or astronomically correct date for the vernal equinox, but a fixed date (March 21). And by full moon it does not mean the astronomical full moon but the “ecclesiastical moon,” which is based on tables created by the church. (The Eastern Church, however, does use the actual equinox for their calculations.) These constructs allow the date of Easter to be calculated in advance rather than determined by actual astronomical observances, which are naturally less predictable.
The Council of Nicaea in 325 established that Easter would be celebrated on Sundays; before that Easter was celebrated on different days in different places in the same year.
The first Holy Week coincided with the Jewish Pesach, or Passover. It begins on the 15th day of Nisan, which is the seventh month in the Jewish calendar. It ends on the 21st of Nisan in Israel (and for Reform Jews) and on the 22nd of Nisan elsewhere. It was the seder meal that Jesus was celebrating at his “last supper” which is commemorated on Maundy Thursday of Holy Week, and also recalled at every celebration of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion.
Passover is the holiday period during which the Jews remember and celebrate their Exodus under the leadership of Moses from slavery in Egypt. The angel of death “passed over” the dwellings of the Jews who had obeyed God’s command to paint the blood of a lamb over their doorposts as a sign to the angel not to visit death upon the firstborn male of the household. The death of the firstborn was the last of the twelve plagues visited upon Egypt in an effort to convince the Pharaoh to free the Israelites from slavery. The Pharaoh finally “let the people go” after that terrible plague, only to regret his action after the Israelites had left. His armies chased after them, and were astonished to see the waters of the Red Sea part, leaving dry land for the Israelites to cross to the other side. After they had safely crossed, the waters rushed back over the seabed, and the Egyptian armies were drowned trying to follow.
Each year Jews the world over celebrate their freedom from Egypt with a 7 or 8-day observance (the length of time depending on the sect or geographical location), beginning with the feast called the “Seder.” In the seder, the events of the first Passover are recited, using the Haggadah (the script of which can vary from year to year or family to family). Foods symbolic of the Exodus are used during the ritual. Questions are asked and answered as the events of that first Passover are recounted. There are four questions as part of this Haggadah (Hebrew for “telling”) most always asked and answered by the children at the table for the feast. The first question is, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” It is a traditional way of passing on the story from generation to generation, and has been done for thousands of years.
The Friday before Easter is known as Good Friday. For Christians, this day is second only to Easter Sunday in importance. Good Friday and Easter are the foundation of the Christian faith.
There are countless resources on the internet that can supply you with all the facts about the traditions that accompany Easter. It is a time of year that means many things to many people. The celebration has been secularized a great deal, primarily in the West, and is responsible for the second largest volume of candy sold and consumed in the US, the first being Halloween – another secularized holiday.
I hope that all of you have a wonderful weekend. If you are celebrating Easter, as I am, I pray that your day be filled with the joy that is ours as Christians. It is the day to fully celebrate and remember who we are, and Whose we are.
For my Jewish friends, I wish you a joyous Passover week (which begins tonight). If you are not there this year, then I join you in your hope of “next year in Jerusalem!”
May all of you, my Gentle Readers, be blessed with the abundance of enough. . .
P.S. It’s Friday. . .but Sunday’s coming! Hallelujah!