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Pastor's Corner

What Is The Season Of Easter About?

     What would you consider to be the most important festival day in the Christian Church year? Christmas because that is when Jesus was born? Good Friday because that is when Jesus’ died? Though there are many important festival days in the Christian Church, the one that has stood out above the rest is Easter. In this column entitled, “Questions About Christianity”, we will learn why by answering this question: “What is the season of Easter about?”
     In most of the non-English speaking world, the season of Easter is referred to as Pascha. It comes from the Latin and Greek word for the Jewish festival called Passover. During this festival, Jews remembered how God saved them from their slavery in Egypt. This festival foreshadowed how Jesus saved all people from their sins through his perfect life, suffering, death, and resurrection. Since Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection took place during the Passover festival, Christians began calling their celebration of Jesus’ resurrection Pascha. Many believe the name Easter was not used for this celebration until around the seventh or eighth century when the English monk, the Venerable Bede, called it Eosturmonap. This name means “Month of Eostre”. During the month of April, the Anglo-Saxons held feasts in honor of their goddess Eostre. In an effort to convert them to Christianity, Christians changed their celebration to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection instead.
     The season of Easter is one of the oldest seasons in the Christian Church year because Jesus’ resurrection from the dead assures all people Jesus defeated the devil, their sins are forgiven, the dead will rise again, and everyone who believes in Jesus as their Savior will go to heaven. At first, Christians just ate a special meal on the Sunday of the Jewish Passover festival since Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection took place during it. Around the second century, many Christians began to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on this day instead. By the fourth century, most Christians throughout the Roman Empire were celebrating Easter. Even though most Christians celebrated Easter, they did not all celebrate it on the same day. Many Christians chose to celebrate Easter during the Jewish Passover, which changed every year based on when the first full moon following the vernal equinox occurred. At the end of the second century, some churches celebrated Easter on the day of the Passover, while others celebrated it on the following Sunday. At the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.), it was ruled Easter Sunday would be celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon which came after the vernal equinox.
     Gradually throughout this time, the church season of Easter developed. The season of Easter lasts for fifty days. During this season, Christians celebrate how Jesus’ resurrection assures them he defeated the devil, their sins are forgiven, the dead will rise again, and they will go to heaven. Since people receive these blessings through faith, during the season of Easter many Christians remember their baptisms when they were brought to faith. On the fortieth day of the season of Easter, Christians celebrate Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
     The color of the paraments for the season of Easter is white to signify how we are holy through faith in Jesus because of his suffering, death, and resurrection. In addition to this, many Christian churches decorate their churches with Easter lilies as a reminder of how we are holy though faith in Jesus who rose to life. Some churches also light a Paschal candle to remind them of their baptisms.
     Since Jesus’ resurrection on Easter is so important for our salvation, it is no coincidence Christians have celebrated it from very early on. I pray this article helps to make your Easter celebration more joyful and meaningful.