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Easter Traditions

About Easter

Easter Traditions

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Religious observation of Easter

Western Christianity

The Easter festival is kept in many different ways among Western Christians. The traditional, liturgical observation of Easter, as practised among Roman Catholics and some Lutherans and Anglicans begins on the night of Holy Saturday with the Easter Vigil. This, the most important liturgy of the year, begins in total darkness with the blessing of the Easter fire, the lighting of the large Paschal candle (symbolic of the Risen Christ) and the chanting of the Exsultet or Easter Proclamation attributed to Saint Ambrose of Milan. After this service of light, a number of readings from the Old Testament are read; these tell the stories of creation, the sacrifice of Isaac, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the foretold coming of the Messiah. This part of the service climaxes with the singing of the Alleluia and the proclamation of the gospel of the resurrection. A sermon may be preached after the gospel. Then the focus moves from the lectern to the font. Anciently, Easter was considered the most perfect time to receive baptism, and this practice is alive in Roman Catholicism, as it is the time when new members are initiated into the Church, and it is being revived in some other circles. Whether there are baptisms at this point or not, it is traditional for the congregation to renew the vows of their baptismal faith. This act is often sealed by the sprinkling of the congregation with holy water from the font. The Catholic sacrament of Confirmation is also celebrated at the Vigil. The Easter Vigil concludes with the celebration of the Eucharist and Holy Communion. Additional celebrations are usually offered on Easter Sunday itself. Some churches prefer to keep this vigil very early on the Sunday morning instead of the Saturday night to reflect the gospel account of the women coming to the tomb at dawn on the first day of the week. Some churches read the Old Testament lessons before the procession of the Paschal candle, and then read the gospel immediately after the Exsultet.

In predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, the morning of Easter (known in the national language as "Pasko ng Muling Pagkabuhay" or the Pasch of the Resurrection) is marked with joyous celebration, the first being the dawn "Salubong", wherein large statues of Jesus and Mary are brought together to meet, imagining the first reunion of Jesus and his mother Mary after Jesus' Resurrection. This is followed by the joyous Easter Mass.

Eastern Christianity

Easter is the fundamental and most important festival of the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox. Every other religious festival on their calendars, including Christmas, is at best secondary in importance to the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord. This is reflected in the cultures of countries that are traditionally Orthodox Christian majority. Easter-connected social customs are native and rich. Christmas customs, on the other hand, are usually foreign imports, either from Germany or the USA. Eastern Rite Catholics in communion with the Pope of Rome have similar emphasis in their calendars, and many of their liturgical customs are very similar

.

This is not to say that Christmas and other elements of the Christian liturgical calendar are ignored. Instead, these events are all seen as necessary but preliminary to the full climax of the Resurrection, in which all that has come before reaches fulfilment and fruition. Pascha (Easter) is the primary act that fulfils the purpose of Christ's ministry on earth—to defeat death by dying and to purify and exalt humanity by voluntarily assuming and overcoming human frailty. This is succinctly summarized by the Paschal Troparion, sung repeatedly during Pascha until the Apodosis of Pascha (which is the day before Ascension):

English Greek Church Slavonic*
Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!
Χριστος ανέστη εκ νεκρον,
θανάτο θάνατον πατήσας,
και τους εν τους μνήμασι,
ζωὴν χαρισάμενος!
Хрїсто́съ воскре́се и́зъ ме́ртвыхъ,
Сме́ртїю сме́рть попра́въ,
И сѹ́щымъ во гробѣ́хъ
живо́тъ Дарова́въ!
Transliterations Christos anesti ek nekron,
Thanato thanaton patisas,
Kai tis en tis mnimasi
Zo-in charisamenos!
Christos voskrese iz mertvich,
Smertiu smert poprav,
I soushchim vo grobyech
Zhivot darovav!

*This language is not well-supported on many systems, so it may not appear as intended here.

Celebration of the holiday begins with the "anti-celebration" of Great Lent. In addition to fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, Orthodox are supposed to reduce all entertainment and non-essential activity, gradually eliminating them until Holy Friday. Traditionally, on the evening of Holy Saturday, the Midnight Office is celebrated shortly after 11:00 pm. At its completion all light in the church building is extinguished. A new flame is struck in the altar, or the priest lights his candle from a perpetual lamp kept burning there, and he then lights candles held by deacons or other assistants, who then go to light candles held by the congregation. Entirely lit by candle, the priest and congregation process around the church building, re-entering ideally at the stroke of midnight, whereupon Matins begins immediately followed by the Paschal Hours and then the Divine Liturgy. Immediately after the Liturgy it is customary for the congregation to share a meal, essentially an agape dinner (albeit at 2.00 am or later!)

The Holy Fire in Jerusalem, celebrated on Holy Saturday, has been described as the oldest miracle-related ceremony in Christendom.The Holy Fire in Jerusalem, celebrated on Holy Saturday, has been described as the oldest miracle-related ceremony in Christendom.

The day after, Easter Sunday proper, there is no liturgy, since the liturgy for that day has already been celebrated. Instead, in the afternoon, it is often traditional to hold "Agape vespers". In this service, it has become customary during the last few centuries for the priest and members of the congregation to read a portion of the Gospel of John (20:19–25 or 19–31) in as many languages as they can manage.

For the remainder of the week (known as "Bright Week"), all fasting is prohibited, and the customary greeting is "Christ is risen!", to be responded with "Truly He is risen!" (See also Pascha greeting)

Non-religious Easter traditions

As with many other Christian dates, the celebration of Easter extends beyond the church. Since its origins, it has been a time of celebration and feasting. Today it is commercially important, seeing wide sales of greeting cards and confectionery such as chocolate Easter eggs, marshmallow bunnies, Peeps, and jelly beans.

Despite the religious preeminence of Easter, in many traditionally Christian countries Christmas is now a more prominent event in the calendar year, being unrivaled as a festive season, commercial opportunity, and time of family gathering — even for those of no or only nominal faith. Easter's relatively modest secular observances place it a distant second or third among the less religiously inclined where Christmas is so prominent.

North America

In the United States and Canada, the Easter holiday has been partially secularized, so that some North American families participate only in the attendant revelry, central to which is decorating Easter eggs on Saturday evening and hunting for them Sunday morning, by which time they have been mysteriously hidden all over the house and garden. According to the children's stories, the eggs were hidden overnight and other treats delivered by the Easter Bunny in an Easter basket which children find waiting for them when they wake up. The Easter Bunny's motives for doing this are seldom clarified. Many families in North America will attend Sunday Mass in the morning and then participate in a feast or party in the afternoon.

Scandinavia

In Norway, in addition to skiing in the mountains and painting eggs for decorating, it is tradition to solve murders at Easter. All the major television channels show crime and detective stories (such as Poirot), magazines print stories where the readers can try to figure out who did it, and many new books are published. Even the milk cartons change to have murder stories on their sides. Another tradition is Yahtzee games.

Central Europe

In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a tradition of whipping is carried out on Easter Monday. In the morning, males whip females with a special handmade whip called pomlázka (in Czech) or korbáč (in Slovak). The pomlázka/korbáč consists of eight, twelve or even twenty-four withies (willow rods) and is usually from half a meter to two meters long and decorated with coloured ribbons at the end. It must be mentioned that while whipping can be painful, the purpose is not to cause suffering. Rather, the purpose is for males to exhibit their attraction to females; unvisited females can even feel offended. The whipped female gives a coloured egg to the male as a sign of her thanks and forgiveness. A legend says that females should be whipped in order to keep their health and fertility during whole next year. In some regions the females can get revenge in the afternoon when they can pour a bucket of cold water on any male. The habit slightly varies across the Czech Republic. A similar tradition existed in Poland (where it is called Dyngus Day), but it is now little more than an all-day waterfight.

In Hungary (where it is called Ducking Monday), perfume or perfumed water is often sprinkled in exchange for an Easter egg.


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About Easter, made by MultiMedia | Free content and software

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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