What is Easter?

Easter is the principal festival of the Christian Church.  Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion.  

Why is Easter Celebrated?

Christians celebrate Easter as a joyous holiday as it represents the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament.  It also represents the revelation of God’s salvific plan for all humankind.  Among the Resurrection of Jesus, Easter also celebrates the defeat of death and the hope of salvation.  In Christian tradition the sins of humanity were paid for by the death of Jesus and that his Resurrection represents the anticipation that believers can have their own Resurrection. For many Christian churches Easter also marks the joyous end of the Lenten Season of fasting and penitence.

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When is Easter Celebrated?

This year Easter will be celebrated on Sunday, April 4th followed by Easter Monday on the 5th.  Good Friday is the day of Jesus’s crucifixion and is Celebrated on April 2nd, 2021.  The time between the crucifixion and the rise of Christ is Holy Saturday and is an unofficial holiday.  This is April 3rd 2021.  Easter comes after the Great Vigil which was observed sometime between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Sunday.  

Easter During Covid-19

During Covid Easter may look a little different for people celebrating.  In Ontario due to shutdown conditions Churches may be open but at minimized capacities for service and some might be completely closed.  Things like online church services and podcasts can be used as alternative ways to celebrate this Holy Weekend.  Also due to shutdown protocol big gatherings with family and friends are not advised indoors and outdoors.  As no more than 5 people are allowed to gather even outside this will make it hard for families to engage in celebration.  As an alternative you could have Zoom calls or Facetime calls with family members.

Easter Egg Origin

The origin of painted and decorated Easter eggs was first recorded in the 13th century.  During Holy Week the church prohibits eating eggs but chickens continued to lay eggs that week.  These were identified as “Holy Week” eggs which then brought their decoration.  The eggs themselves became a symbol of the resurrection as when Jesus rose from the tomb the eggs are new life emerging from the eggshell.  In Orthodox tradition the eggs were painted red to symbolize the blood Jesus shed on the cross.

Non-Religious Easter Celebrations

Easter is like Christmas, it has adapted many traditions that aren’t necessarily related to religion at all.  The Easter custom associated with the rabbit or bunny for Easter came to be in Protestant area of Europe in the 17th century.  This did not become common until the 19th century.  This is where the Easter bunny hides decorated eggs that it lays on Easter for children to find.  The U.S. started the Easter bunny leaving children baskets of toys and candies on Easter morning.  In different countries they have their own adaptations of this tradition like using other animals.  In Switzerland they use the cuckoo and Westphalia uses the fox.

Dr. Strang recommends leaving a special item out for the Easter Bunny -  HalifaxToday.ca