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Easter

EASTER

EASTER. Easter, the Christian festival commemorating the resurrection of Christ, was the earliest feast day decided upon by the ancient Christian Church. Like its Jewish predecessor Passover, it is a movable feast, based on the lunar calendar rather than falling on the same Sunday every year.

The complicated dating for Easter was set in 325 at the Council of Nicaea, which scheduled the festival to be celebrated on the first Sunday following the full moon occurring next after the vernal equinox (about March 21); however, if the full moon occurs on a Sunday, Easter will be celebrated the following Sunday. Hence, the date of Easter can fluctuate between March 22 and April 25. Because the Western churches (Catholic and Protestant) now follow the Gregorian calendar, the Eastern churches, which follow the unrevised Julian calendar, celebrate Easter (and other Church holidays) on different dates. In the Orthodox Churches, Easter marks the beginning of the ecclesiastical year.

Like many other Christian feasts, the celebration of Easter contains a number of originally pagan or folk-religious elements tolerated by the Church. Among these are customs associated with the Easter egg, Easter breads and other special holiday foods, and the European concept of the Easter hare, or, in America, of the Easter rabbit, which brings baskets of candies and colored eggs during the night.

The pagan roots of Easter involve the spring festivals of pre-Christian Europe and the Near East, which celebrate the rebirth of vegetation, welcoming the growing light as the sun becomes more powerful in its course toward summer. It is significant that in England and Germany the Church accepted the name of the pagan goddess "Easter" (Anglo-Saxon Eostra her name has several spellings) for this new Christian holiday. In Mediterranean Europe (Italy, Spain, and France), Christianity adopted pascha, a word derivative of Passover, from which comes the adjective "paschal" for things pertaining to Easter, such as the Paschal Lamb.

Aside from the fact that Easter Sunday officially ended the long fast of Lent, one of the most distinctive food elements of the Easter celebration is the Easter egg. In earlier times, Easter eggs were much more a part of the formal culture than they are in America today, where individual families determine the range of the custom. In the European village context, Easter eggs were once used as part of one's tithe to the landlord, or given as festive (and expected) gifts to the village pastor, the schoolmaster, the sexton and bell-ringer, the parish gravedigger, and even the village shepherd. Of course, they were hospitably presented to visitors, bestowed as favors upon servants, and, above all, given to children. Courting couples exchanged them as tokens of love, and godparents usually regaled their godchildren with gifts of decorated eggs.

The Easter rabbit (Easter hare in Europe) is not documented before the seventeenth century. While the Easter hare is the major egg supplier in European Easter celebration, there were other runners-up in the form of egg birds, Easter hens, cranes, storks, even foxes and other creatures. With its late origin, scholars are still debating the reasons for the association of the rabbit with Easter custom and lore. It is generally thought that, like the Christmas treeand the recent development of Easter egg treesthe custom first emerged in the cities, then filtered down into the country villages. Among the theories of the origin of the Easter rabbit belief, the most plausible (although still not without difficulties) is that it may be connected in some way with the so-called March Hare of folktale. The Easter rabbit was believed to actually lay the eggs; hence, children went to elaborate lengths to build attractive "nests" for the elusive egg layer, who was summoned by whistling or by saying a charm.

The elaborate decoration of Easter eggs became a major form of home-produced folk art both in Europe and America. Among the Pennsylvania Dutch, who produced an elaborate Easter culture, eggs are dyed with onion skins, producing a rich reddish-brown color, or with other natural dyes. These eggs are then scratch-carved with designs, dates, names, or even religious verses, or elaborately decorated by winding the pith of a reed around the egg to create patterns. The Pennsylvania Dutch also make Easter birds out of large goose or duck eggs, furnishing them with wings, beaks, and tails. These are hung from the ceilings of farmhouse kitchens as festive seasonal decoration.

In areas of Canada and the United States where Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox Christians as well as Poles and other Eastern Europeans settled, unusual methods of egg decoration are found. Such Easter eggs are generally referred to as pysanka (plural pysanky ). In Eastern Europe, egg decoration is an ancient folk craft treasured in families and passed down from generation to generation. In Czarist Russia, this craft was elevated to such a degree that it was even imitated by such famous jewelers as Fabergé. Whether created with gold leaf and sapphires or just homemade dyes, the designs involve a variety of standard motifsgeometrical, animal, and floral. The geometrical motifs are probably the oldest, and range from simple horizontal and vertical lines to sectionalize the egg to sun symbols like the tripod, or to the "endless line" forms. Some of the most complex patterns incorporate stars and rosettes. Animal and bird designs are the rarest; the reindeer is said to symbolize wealth and prosperity, while the hen, or the feet of a hen, symbolizes fertility and fulfillment of wishes. Butterflies, fish, and horses are also occasionally included in the design repertoire. From the plant world, pine trees are drawn to symbolize eternal youth and health. Many of the Slavic methods of decoration are similar to those used by the Pennsylvania Dutch, but the range of motifs is different, the colors more striking, and the designs richly elaborate. Background colors are often red or black, although green and yellow are also popular, but multicolored designs seem to be the most popular.

In the family and community of all the various Christian denominations, Easter Sunday has always been a day of joyous celebration. In the Middle Ages it was often chosen as the day to crown kings since Easter feasting was, and remains, quite elaborate, especially in the Orthodox tradition. Since the day marked the official end to forty days of the Lenten fast, many special foods were prepared to mark the occasion. Easter breads have been researched widely and form a huge genre of ornamental foods made especially for this feast. Among the Greeks, lung soup is very much associated with Easter cookery, while in America baked ham seems to be one of the most common features of the Easter dinner. Many games were played with Easter eggs prior to or following Easter dinner, such as egg picking, where the player forfeits his or her egg if it cracks during the picking, egg eating contests, and egg rolling contests. In Europe and in parts of colonial America, Easter was often extended into a twoday celebration, with feasting, gaming, and other secular entertainments continued into Easter Monday.

Easter has undergone further evolution in more modern times, especially since the latter half of the nineteenth century. The confectionery trade began to commercialize Easter during the 1870s, with the introduction of an entirely new line of sweets employing Easter themes. Chocolatiers in particular discovered that candies once only sold as luxury foods for Christmas could become just as lucrative when transformed into rabbits and similar gift items. Today Easter is one of the most important seasons for selling confectionery, from chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks, and jelly beans, to music box coconut eggs, spun sugar tulips, and edible crucifixes filled with brandied fruit.

The most concise reporting of Easter customs in Europe occurred at a symposium on Easter organized by Robert Wildhaber of Switzerland. Wildhaber edited the papers and published them in 1957 in the Schweizerisches Archiv für Volkskunde. The papers cover Eastertide as celebrated in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France (especially Alsace), Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, and Greece. The majority of the contributions deal with Easter eggs, their history, function, decoration, role in folk medicine, and in riddles. Several contributions treat Easter foods, especially Easter breads and other baked goods. Venetia Newall's An Egg at Easter (1971) is the most expert introduction in English to the history of the Easter egg and its place in ecclesiastical and folk culture.

See also Bread ; Christianity ; Folklore, Food in ; Judaism ; Lent ; Passover ; United States: Pennsylvania Dutch Food ; Shrove Tuesday .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bradshaw, Paul F., and Lawrence A. Hoffman, eds. Passover and Easter: Origin and History in Modern Times. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1999.

Gulevich, Tanya. Encyclopedia of Easter, Carnival, and Lent. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2002.

Newall, Venetia. An Egg at Easter: A Folklore Study. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1971.

Rodrigue, Denise. Cycle de Pâques au Québec et dans l'Ouest de la France. Québec: Les Presses de l'Université Laval, 1983.

Santino, Jack. All Around the Year: Holidays and Celebrations in American Life. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994.

Shoemaker, Alfred L. Eastertide in Pennsylvania: A Folk-Cultural Study. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole, 2000.

Watts, Alan W. Easter: Its Story and Meaning. New York: Abelard-Schuman, 1959.

Wildhaber, Robert, ed. "Osterbrauchtum in Europa." Schweizerisches Archiv für Volkskunde 53, nos. 2, 3 (1957): 61204.

Don Yoder

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Easter

Easter the most important and oldest festival of the Christian Church, celebrating the resurrection of Christ and held (in the Western Church) between 21 March and 25 April, on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the northern spring equinox.

The name is recorded from Old English (in form ēastre) and is of Germanic origin, related to east. According to Bede the word is derived from Ēastre, the name of a goddess associated with spring.
Easter bunny an imaginary rabbit said to bring gifts of Easter eggs to children at Easter, deriving (in popular folklore) from the association of the rabbit with fertility.
Easter egg an artificial chocolate egg or decorated hard-boiled egg given at Easter, especially to children.
Easter Rising the uprising in Dublin and other cities in Ireland against British rule, Easter 1916. It ended with the surrender of the protesters, and the execution of their leaders.
Easter Sepulchre a recess in certain medieval churches for keeping the Eucharistic elements from Good Friday until the Easter festivities.
Easter term a term in the courts of law, formerly movable and occurring between Easter and Whitsuntide, but now fixed within a certain period; in the older universities, a term formerly occurring between Easter and Whitsuntide and now included in the Trinity term; in some universities and schools, the term between Christmas and Easter.

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"Easter." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Easter

Easter [A.S. Eastre, name of a spring goddess], chief Christian feast, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion. In the West, Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the full moon next after the vernal equinox (see calendar); thus, it falls between Mar. 22 and Apr. 25. The Orthodox Eastern Church calculates Easter somewhat differently, so that the Orthodox Easter usually comes several weeks after that of the West. Many dates of the Christian calendar are dependent on Easter. For most Christians there is a preparatory period of penitence, beginning (in the West) with Septuagesima Sunday, 17 days before Lent, and ending in Holy Week. With Easter begins the paschal season, liturgically marked with rejoicing; Alleluia is often said, and the paschal candle is set up. The five Sundays of this time begin with Low Sunday. They are followed by Ascension Day (Thursday; see under Ascension) and, 10 days later, by Pentecost. The Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday. Until Advent the weeks are counted from Pentecost or Trinity. A feature of Roman Catholic life is the Easter duty, by which every member is required to receive communion sometime between Ash Wednesday and Trinity Sunday. Painting and rolling eggs and wearing new clothes are Easter customs; there is no development of social festivities comparable with those of Christmas.

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"Easter." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Easter

Easter —the uniquely English word is derived from the Teutonic goddess Eostre—is the primary Christian feast celebrating Christ's resurrection, an ever-present event to believing Christians. Originally however pascha, the Greek form of the Hebrew pesach (Jewish passover), signified the Christian equivalent, the redemption or delivery from bondage. Until the 2nd cent. it celebrated the whole redemption event, Christ's passion and resurrection, not just resurrection. Its dating has always presented a problem. While the gentile church, stressing the resurrection element, celebrated it on a Sunday (Resurrection Day), the province of Asia followed the Jewish Passover date in the lunar calendar (Nisan 14). They were tolerated until the Council of Nicaea (325) when Easter was settled as the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Another revision (6th cent.) caused divergence between the remote Celtic church and Rome, thus creating bitter animosity when the 6th/7th-cent. Roman missionaries arrived in Britain, until resolved at the Synod of Whitby (664). The eastern church, still following the Julian calendar, has Easter on a different Sunday. Attempts to have a fixed date for Easter in the 20th cent. failed.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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Easter

204. Easter

  1. basket filled with treats, representative of feast on Easter Sunday. [Folklore: Misc.]
  2. bonnet usually worn along with new clothes on Easter Sunday. (Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet.) [Christian Tradition: Misc.; Am. Music: Irving Berlin, Easter Parade]
  3. bunny delivers chocolates, etc., to children. [Western Folklore: Jobes, 487]
  4. daisy a flower traditionally displayed in homes during Easter season. [Christian Tradition: Jobes, 487]
  5. egg colored eggs as symbol of new life, adopted to reflect Resurrection. [Christian Tradition: Brewer Dictionary, 361]
  6. jelly beans traditional treat for children on Easter Sunday; symbolize eggs. [Pop. Culture: Misc.]
  7. parade of finery; most notable ones in New York and Atlantic City on Easter Sunday. [Pop. Culture: Misc.]
  8. purple and yellow traditional colors seen in churches during Easter season. [Christian Color Symbolism: Jobes, 487]
  9. spring flowers a token of Christs resurrection. [Christian Tradition: Jobes, 487]
  10. white lily symbol of Resurrection. [Christian Tradition: Jobes, 487]
  11. white and green signifies color of Easter holidays. [Christian Color Symbolism: Jobes, 487]

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Easter

Easter. The Christian feast of the resurrection of Christ. According to Bede, the name is connected with an Anglo-Saxon spring goddess ‘Eostre’. The derivation is uncertain, but some Easter customs, e.g. the giving of eggs as gifts, are certainly pre-Christian.

The primitive Christian feast known in the 2nd–3rd cents. as the Pasch (Aramaic, pasḥa, ‘Passover’) formed the Christian counterpart to the Jewish festival.

Since the Council of Nicaea (325) Easter has been fixed for the Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox. However, there is still a divergence between E. and W. Churches, mainly because almost all Orthodox Churches, even those who otherwise use the Gregorian calendar, use the Julian date for the equinox. Thus the date of ‘Orthodox Easter’ sometimes coincides with the W. date, but it is usually one, four, or five weeks later.

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Easter

Easter Christian festival commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. OE. ēastre, mainly in pl. = OFris. āsteron, MHG. ōsteren, OHG. ōstarūn (G. Ostern pl.); derived by Bede from the name of a goddess whose feast was celebrated at the vernal equinox, Ēostre, Nhb. var. of Ēastre :- Gmc. *Austrōn- (rel. to prec.). Several OE. comps. of the comb. form Ēaster- survive: Ēasterǣfen Easter Eve, Ēasterdæg Easter Day, Ēastersunnandæg Easter Sunday, Ēastertīd Eastertide, Ēasterwuce Easter week.

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Easter

Eas·ter / ˈēstər/ • n. the most important and oldest festival of the Christian Church, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ and held (in the Western Church) between March 21 and April 25, on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the northern spring equinox. ∎  the period in which this occurs, esp. the weekend from Good Friday to Easter Monday.

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Easter

Easter Feast in celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion. It is the oldest and greatest Christian feast, celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon between March 21 and April 25. The exchange of Easter eggs is a pre-Christian rite.

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Easter 2002–2010

Easter 2002–2010

Year

Ash Wednesday

Easter Sunday

2002

13 February

31 March

2003

5 March

20 April

2004

25 February

11 April

2005

9 February

27 March

2006

1 March

16 April

2007

21 February

8 April

2008

6 February

23 March

2009

25 February

12 April

2010

17 February

4 April


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Easter

Eastercater, crater, creator, curator, data, debater, delator, dumbwaiter, equator, freighter, frustrater, gaiter, grater, gyrator, hater, later, legator, mater, negator, pater, peseta, plater, rotator, skater, slater, stater, tater, traitor, ultimata, understater, upstater, waiter •painter •taster, waster •gamester • aviator • tailgater •hesitater • shirtwaister •Akita, Anita, arboreta, beater, beta, Bhagavadgita, cheater, cheetah, Demeter, Dieter, dolce vita, eater, eta, Evita, excreta, fetor, granita, greeter, heater, Juanita, litre (US liter), Lolita, maltreater, margarita, meter, metre, Peta, peter, praetor (US pretor), repeater, Rita, saltpetre (US saltpeter), secretor, Senhorita, señorita, Sita, skeeter, teeter, terra incognita, theta, treater, tweeter, ureter, veleta, zeta •Batista, Dniester, Easter, feaster, keister, leister, quaestor •speedster •deemster, teamster •scenester • browbeater • windcheater •beefeater •millilitre (US milliliter) •decilitre (US deciliter) •centilitre (US centiliter) •kilolitre (US kiloliter) •ammeter • Machmeter •millimetre (US millimeter) •decimetre (US decimeter) •altimeter •centimetre (US centimeter) •nanometre (US nanometer) •micrometer, micrometre •decametre (US dekameter) •kilometre (US kilometer) • autopista •anteater

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