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The flowers are springing up,
the season of singing birds
has come;
Song of Solomon 2v12

Easter - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Contents :
When is Easter?

Christmas is December 25; Valentine's Day is February 14; St. Patrick's is March 17, but when is Easter? Each year we have to look at a calendar to find out when Easter is, for it is a moveable feast. Why is this so?

Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox of March 21. Easter can therefore come as early as March 22 or as late as April 25. Note: Equinox means "equal night;" on that date of the year, the night and day are approximately equal (vernal denotes "spring").
  
What is Easter?

Easter is a time to welcome back the Tulips, the Crocuses and the Daffodils. Its a time of new suits and new dresses. And a time of chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks, and coloured eggs!

But, most of all, Easter is the celebration Jesus Christ's return to life after his crucifixion. (While Jesus died on the cross and was buried, he rose from the dead, and that is what Easter is all about.)

His return from death is called the Resurrection. According to the scriptures, Jesus tomb was empty three days after his death. His followers saw him and talked to him after this. Christians therefore believe that they too can receive new life after death. Easter is the celebration of this belief.

Easter is the most important Christian holiday of the year

Connected with the observance of Easter are the 40-day penitential season of Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday and concluding at midnight on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday; and Holy Week, commencing on Palm Sunday, including Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion, and terminating with Holy Saturday;
  
What is Lent?

In Christianity Lent is a period of fasting (which limits the kinds and amounts of food that are eaten), praying and personal reflection, in preparation for the celebration of Easter. This is to serve as a reminder of the 40 days Jesus fasted in the wilderness. Christians are called to consider the life of Christ and to reflect on the high cost of his earthly pilgrimage.

Lent which lasts 40 days begins on Ash Wednesday and concludes at midnight on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday. (Lent is actually 46 days, but Sundays are omitted because they are already celebrations)
  
What is Shrove Tuesday?

If you live outside the UK, you probably haven't heard of Shrove Tuesday. Pancakes were originally eaten on Shrove Tuesday -- the Tuesday before Lent -- to use up eggs and fat before the fast of Lent. Today, these pancakes are generally made of eggs, milk and flour. The word "shrove" comes from "shrive," meaning "the confessions of sins" -- something done in preparation for Lent.
  
What is Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday (from the Latin Dies Cinerum, meaning "Day of Ashes") is the first day of Lent. It gets its name from the practice, mainly in the Roman Catholic church, of putting ashes on the foreheads of the faithful to remind them that man is but dust. Ashes are referred to many times in the Old Testament as a sign of sorrow, mourning, humility, and repentance (see 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1-3; Job 42:6; and Jeremiah 6:26).

On this day, Christians focus intensely on their utter and complete sinfulness and the necessity of Christ's suffering and death to earn their salvation.
  
Why is it called Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday is its colloquial name. Its official name is the Day of Ashes. It is called Ash Wednesday because, being forty days before Good Friday, it always falls on a Wednesday and it is called Ash Wednesday because on that day at church the faithful have their foreheads marked with ashes in the shape of a cross.
  
What is Holy Week?

The Holy week is the last week of Lent. It begins with the observance of Palm Sunday. Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper of Christ with his disciples. Good Friday marks the crucifixion and Easter Sunday, Jesus' resurrection from the dead.
  
What is Palm Sunday?

Palm Sunday celebrates the story of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where the crowds spread palm branches and clothing before him.

And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" And this is where the basis of the Palm Sunday procession lies.
  
Holy Monday and Tuesday

Monday of the Holy Week is not a major feast. The cleansing of the temple in the Holy City of Jerusalem is thought to have taken place on this Monday. This was when Jesus overturned the tables of the moneychangers, saying to them: " It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; But you make it a den of robbers". [Matthew: 21:13]

The Tuesday of the Holy Week is the day when the famous incident between Jesus and Pharisees is thought to have taken place. This was when the churchmen tried to trap Jesus into making a blasphemous, or, anti-god remark.

This day is important also on another count. Jesus discoursed to his disciples on the Mount of Olives about the destruction of Jerusalem and the signs of the last day.
  
Spy Wednesday

On the Wednesday the tempo of the Holy Week increases. This is the day widely known as "Spy Wednesday". For it is the day when Judas Iscariot, a disciple turned betrayer agreed to show the chief priests where they could easily capture Jesus.
  
Maundy Thursday

The Thursday of the Holy Week is associated with the Last Supper. The day is known as Maundy Thursday, or, Holy Thursday. It is the day before crucifixion. On this day Jesus had his supper, his last course, with his disciples. In the words of St Matthew:
...Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it , and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying," Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, is in memory of the Last Supper of Christ with his disciples.
  
What is Good Friday?

The Friday of the week is the Good Friday. This is the day on which Jesus was crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem, at the top of the Calvary hill. And the Christian belief says that Jesus sacrificed himself for the men's sins, to be died crucified.

This day is marked by solemn observations in memory of Jesus' crucifixion. For, Christians believe that by dying Jesus accomplished a reconciliation between God and man. And accordingly the crucified image of Jesus or, the Cross itself, came to be regarded as the main symbol of faith for the Christians.

While Jesus died on the cross and was buried, he rose from the dead, and that is what Easter is all about.
  
Why is it Good Friday?

The Friday before Easter is called Good Friday, and is a sombre observance of Christ's crucifixion on the cross. Christians believe that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross made it possible for them to know peace with God. They wanted to celebrate their peace rather than observe Friday as a day of mourning or sadness.

The name may also be derived from God's Day, since in the first two centuries, the word "good" would only ever have been used as a description for God.
  
What is Easter Sunday?

The highest celebration of the church year is Easter Sunday. It is when we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

According to the Bible, Jesus' friends arrived at grave to find the stone moved and an angel standing nearby saying that Jesus' body was no longer in the grave that he had been raised from the dead. In many churches outdoor Easter services take place at sunrise to celebrate Jesus' resurrection. Just as Jesus rose from the dead Christians believe they will rise from the dead into heaven after their death on earth.
  
What is Pentecost?

The festival of Pentecost was a Jewish celebration for the harvested crops. Leviticus 23 and Numbers 28 list sacrifices and offerings associated with the holiday. The festival was attended by Jews from every nation. It took place fifty days after Passover.

On the Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus (50 days from the Passover in which He was crucified), the Holy Spirit, according to Acts 2, descended on the disciples in the form of tongues of fire accompanied by the sound of a rush of wind, and gave them the power of speaking in such a way that people of different languages could understand them.

Through the work of the Holy Spirit Peter detailed why Jesus was the Christ. After understanding Christ's death and resurrection three thousand Jews repented and were baptised.
  
What is Passover?

The Passover celebration is perhaps the oldest observed feast. Passover, the Jewish festival, celebrates the Israelites' flight from slavery in Egypt in about 1200 BC (Exodus 12). It reminds the people how God saved them from slavery in Egypt.

According to tradition, the first Passover (“ The Passover of Egypt” ), was preordained by Moses at the command of God. The Israelites were commanded to select a he-lamb of the first year, without blemish, to kill it and to sprinkle with its blood the lintel and sidepost of the doors of their dwellings so that the Lord should “pass over” them when he went forth to slay the first-born of the Egyptians. The lamb thus drained of blood was to be roasted and entirely consumed by the Israelites, who should be ready with loins girded, shoes on feet and staff in hand so as to be prepared for the exodus. In memory of this the Israelites were for all time to eat unleavened bread (ma~oth) for ‘seven days, as well as keep the sacrifice of the Passover on the eve between the fourteenth and the fifteenth of Nisan.
Exodus 12
2 Chronicles 35:1-19