Why do we celebrate Easter? Significance, history and meaning of the holiday
The Christianity realm has a number of celebrations and festivals that have different meanings for the different seasons. These religious celebrations boost spirituality among believers and hold Christians together, reminding them of the promises of God.
In the Christian calendar, Easter follows the period of lent, the period when Christians practice and observe fasting and penance. Lent is counted as 40 calendar days, excluding Sundays from the day of Ash Wednesday, a day which reminds Christians of human mortality and the need for reconciliation with God.
When is Easter celebrated each year?
In 2023, the festival is on 9 April. The holiday falls on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox, described as the two moments in the year when the Sun is exactly above the Equator and day and night are of equal length.
The vernal equinox welcomes spring in the northern hemisphere. All of the celebrations leading up to Easter also change dates. So, how long ago was Easter? The last Easter season occurred 330 days ago, ten months and 26 days ago.
Why do we celebrate Easter?
Easter came about when Jesus was accused of blasphemy and arrested by the roman authorities for claiming to be The Son of God. He was sentenced to death by crucifixion and was buried in a tomb. According to the New Testament, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day of his burial, which was named Resurrection Sunday.
The following Monday was named Easter Monday, also called the festival of hope, as it gives Christians hope for eternal life.
Why do we celebrate Easter on different days?
Christians view the season as the oldest and most significant festival of the Church year. After the resurrection, a council of Christian bishops sat together in the city of Nicaea and ruled that it should be observed on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox (21 March). It falls and is celebrated on any Sunday between 22 March and 25 April.
Why do we celebrate Easter Sunday?
After the crucifixion of Jesus, which is celebrated as Good Friday, his body was taken down from the cross and buried in a tomb. On the Sunday that followed, three days after, Jesus was resurrected. Therefore, the Sunday before Easter Monday was called Easter Sunday, and it is celebrated to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
How is Easter celebrated around the world?
Being the greatest feast of the Church year, the season celebration is mainly marked with special church services and traditions. Different regions have different traditions, as seen in the examples below:
In Africa, church services are the most common and spiritual way of celebrating the season. Church services start on the Thursday before Good Friday and go all the way to Easter Monday. The day is marked by:
- Decorating the church with African clothes, vitenges and kangas.
- Sharing the word of God by holding a mass.
- Singing and dancing to resurrection hymns.
- Sharing a celebratory meal.
- Holding a midnight candlelight service on the eve of Easter Monday.
- Praying and ringing bells.
They congregants stay until the Easter Morning dawn.
Religious processions are held in different towns during the season. Celebrations always include:
- Baking and eating the Folar, a traditional bread with boiled eggs in the middle.
- Games and bonfires.
- Egg hunts.
- Easter bunnies.
- Handicrafts and
- Willow branches.
The celebrations are also a mark of the end of the winter season.
In America, churches hold special services to celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection after the crucifixion on Easter Sunday. Christians mark the season by:
- Decorating eggs, real hard-boiled eggs or model plastic eggs.
- Chocolate, candy or other egg-shaped materials.
- Recitations of the season's poems by children also mark the celebrations.
In the Western Christianity, the festival season begins on Easter Sunday and ends on Pentecostal Sunday.
4. Middle East
In the Middle East, the season is also marked with a celebration. Examples of the meals shared include:
- A roasted lamb leg.
- Boiled eggs.
- Maamoul, which is basically a date- or nut-stuffed shortbread-like biscuit.
- Fattah, which is a dish mainly consisting of flatbread, yoghurt, chickpeas, fresh herbs and oil.
- Dyed chicken eggs are used in place of chocolates and candy.
Why do we celebrate Easter with eggs and bunnies?
Eggs and bunnies are symbolic to the celebrations as symbols of spring and rebirth. Bunnies/rabbits are known for their energetic breeding, symbolising fertility, while the eggs symbolise fertility and spring and represent Christ's resurrection.
Many Christian celebrations revolve around feasts and merry-making as they are based on special moments and events in the life of Jesus. So, why do we celebrate Easter? These festival help Christians to appreciate their religious significance and beliefs.
In Christianity, the church is not just a building; the Bible refers to the church as the followers of Christ. However, Christians gather in the church as a building to worship and learn about Christ’s teaching.
Yen.com.gh published an article listing the biggest churches in Ghana where Christians meet and further their intentions in Christ. Find out more in the article.