Tag: the origin of the word Easter

The Origins of Easter

The Origins of Easter

While researching for my second novel, I learnt about the origin of the word Easter and the different tradition in France where this novel, The Last Hotel is set.

The English word Easter is derived from ‘Eostre’, the name of a pre-Christian goddess associated with spring and fertility. Easter occurs at the spring equinox when the day is divided into equal periods of night and day. Spring in the northern hemisphere is a season of new life for plants and animals. Hence the bunnies, chicks and eggs of Easter celebrations in the Western world. Easter occurs at the spring equinox when the day is divided into equal periods of night and day. Spring in the northern hemisphere is a season of new life for plants and animals.

Easter and the natural world

Religious festivals are often connected to the natural world and its seasons. Before all the modern gadgets, electricity and devices, man was more in tune with the natural world. When the sun set the only light was from the moon until the sun rose again. Imagine that. Today you have to take a camping trip to a remote area to experience that. Even then some fellow campers could bring along televisions etc. Don’t you hate that. Why go camping??!

In the non-English speaking world, Easter is called by derivatives of the word Passover which is the festival in Hebrew Culture celebrating the liberation of the Jews from Egypt. (Book of Exodus). The word Pascha comes from the Hebrew Pesah. Unleavened or unrisen bread is eaten in the form of matzo. Jewish people and others enjoy matzo ball soup which is quite delicious.

The trial and crucifixion of Jesus occurred at Passover, so his death and resurrection coincide with Passover. His death is honored on Good Friday and his rebirth on the Easter Sunday. These same days became associated with the pagan festivities of the time celebrating renewal and rebirth. This explains the origins of Easter.

Easter is both a happy and sad time

In the Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday precedes Good Friday by about six weeks and is the start of Lent. This traditionally is a time of fasting and prayer leading up to Easter.

Not all Christians observe the Lent ritual. Ashes were used in ancient times to express grief and sorrow and placed on the head.

In the Christian tradition, Easter is both a sad and joyous date on the calendar. It marks the death but also the resurrection of Jesus. As Easter is determined by the moon and seasons, the actual calendar date varies from year to year.

What is the Holy Week?

Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem triumphant and feted on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before the day that would become known as Easter Sunday.

This is the beginning of Holy Week. The Last Supper took place on the Thursday, Maundy Thursday when Jesus ate with his disciples. That night he prayed long into the night in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas, one of his disciples, betrayed him. He fell out of favor with authorities, and they crucified and buried him on Good Friday.

According to the Bible, Jesus rose from the dead three days later, on Easter Sunday, signaling the victory of life over death and the promise of eternal salvation for believers. Believing in his deity as the son of God, and trusting in his guidance, guarantees you forgiveness of your sins and life everlasting in heaven.

Christians attend church services at Easter. The Good Friday service is a solemn service that usually follows the 14 stations of the cross as Jesus made his way carrying the heavy cross to his place of crucifixion.

On Easter Sunday, the service is by contrast joyful celebrating his rising or resurrection. Both services involve participation in special liturgies and hymns. Some churches also hold Easter processions and pageants, reenacting the events of the resurrection. This is particularly so in the Philippines where the Holy Week is celebrated.

Easter, a time of hope and renewal

Easter is a holiday rich in history and tradition. It is intercultural around the world. Whether you celebrate it for its religious significance or its cultural significance, it is a time of renewal and hope, a time to celebrate the arrival of spring or hope and the promise of new life.

Later as children became a distinct entity not just little adults, mythical bunnies were added from German folklore to deliver sweet nougat or chocolate eggs to ‘good’ children just as Santa Claus rewarded them at Christmas. In Europe, it is also traditional to paint eggshells and hang the pretty eggs as a display.

In France chocolate bells also feature as a tradition to connect with the joyful ringing of church bells on Easter Sunday.

From Christian sorrow and joy, church services to family gatherings or Easter eggs brought by the Easter bunny, Easter is a time to come together with loved ones and rejoice in the blessings of life and be grateful.

Happy Easter!

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Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel, Colour Comes to Tangles and Time, Heal my Heart. Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.