Happy Easter: When is Easter observed & How to celebrate!
|Photo: Travel Triangle
Easter is the most important Christian festival of the year. Regularly observed from the earliest days of the Church, Easter celebrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead, following the crucifixion. It marks the end of Holy Week, the end of Lent, and the last day of the Easter Triduum (starting from the evening of Maundy Thursday, through Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday), as well as the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac.
Why is Easter celebrated?
The Bible says that Christ died on the cross on a day called Good Friday. According to the Bible, Jesus was then resurrected and came back to life on Easter Sunday. Many Christians usually spend time at church in thought, prayer, and celebration of Jesus Christ's life, and may get together with friends and family for a special meal, Farmer's Almanac cites.
Easter is a joyous holiday seen as the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament and the revelation of God’s salvific plan for all of humankind. In commemorating the Resurrection of Jesus, Easter celebrates the defeat of death and the hope of salvation, reported Britannica. Christian tradition holds that the sins of humanity were paid for by the death of Jesus and that his Resurrection represents the anticipation believers can have in their own resurrection.
Why are Easter eggs made of chocolate?
The first chocolate eggs appeared in France and Germany in the 19th Century, but they were bitter and hard. As chocolate-making techniques improved, hollow eggs like the ones we have today were developed. They very quickly became popular and remain a favorite tradition with chocolate-lovers today.
What's the Easter Bunny then?
|Photo: Good Housekeeping
The story of the Easter Bunny is thought to have become common in the 19th Century. Rabbits usually give birth to a big litter of babies (called kittens), so they became a symbol of new life. Legend has it that the Easter Bunny lays, decorates, and hides eggs as they are also a symbol of new life, as cited by BBC.UK. This is why some children might enjoy Easter egg hunts as part of the festival.
It doesn't do all the work alone though! In Switzerland, Easter eggs are delivered by a cuckoo and in parts of Germany by a fox.
How to determine the date of Easter?
Easter and the many church holidays related to it—such as Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Good Friday—are called “moveable feasts,” because they do not fall on a fixed date on the Gregorian calendar, which follows the cycle of the Sun and the seasons. Instead, these days follow a lunisolar calendar, similar to Jewish holidays.
According to a Fourth Century ruling, the date of Easter is set for the first Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first Full Moon of Spring, occurring on or shortly after the vernal equinox, or spring equinox. March 22 is the earliest Easter can occur on any given year, and April 25 is the latest. If that first spring full moon occurs on a Sunday, then Easter will be observed the following Sunday.
Astronomers can tell us precisely to the exact minute when the Moon will arrive opposite the Sun that will brand it as a “full” Moon. However, the Church follows its own methodologies in determining when the Moon turns full. One important factor is something called the “Golden Number.” It is a rather arcane series of computations that in the end provides a date for Easter. Of course, on occasion, the date for the full Moon does not exactly line up with the date that is provided by astronomy.
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When is Easter observed this year?
This year, Easter will be observed on Sunday, April 4. (Eastern Orthodox Easter will take place on Sunday, May 2.) This Easter is just one week after March’s full Moon (Sunday, March 28), which is the first full moon to occur after the spring equinox (March 20, 2021).
How to celebrate Easter amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
#1. Change the way you dye eggs
For many families, dyeing Easter eggs together is an annual tradition. We may be past the egg, milk, and toilet paper shortages of spring 2020, but that doesn’t mean you want to be wasteful. If you do have fresh eggs at home, you might want to preserve them for eating, not decorating or crafting. (For best results, avoid dyeing eggs and then eating them later. Not all dyes or decorating tools are food-safe—unless you try a homemade egg dye—and even though they’re on the shell, it’s better to be safe than sorry.)
Instead, consider using Styrofoam eggs or another type of crafting egg. These eggs can be ordered straight to your door—you still want to avoid unnecessary trips to the store—and decorated with markers, crayons, and more tools you likely already have around the house. Best of all, you can save your favorites (and any extra, undecorated eggs) for next year.
#2. Do an alternative egg hunt
Setting the kids loose on a field or playground dotted with eggs isn’t really social distancing, especially if you typically do it as a group with other families. Instead, if your home and yard have space, tuck eggs around your house for your kids to find, Real Simple cites.
For a larger egg hunt, get in touch with your neighborhood group text or homeowners’ association. Ask all participating families to decorate large Easter eggs on paper and then tape the paper eggs into windows facing the street. On Easter Sunday, families can head out in cars, on bikes, or on foot—careful to keep their distance from one another—to try and spot all the eggs in the neighborhood.
#3. Focus on small-scale Easter games
A bunny hop race or Easter egg toss may not be possible this year if you don’t have the supplies, numbers, or space (or all three). Focus on games—beyond the egg hunt—your family can play together, such as guess the number of jelly beans or Easter egg basketball, even if you only have one or two kids in the family.
For older kids, consider giving your favorite family games an Easter spin: Play Scrabble with all Easter- or spring-themed words, for example.
#4. Order in for your Easter dinner
If you typically go out for Easter brunch or dinner—or head to Grandma’s for her Easter specialties—don’t take it upon yourself to cook a multi-course meal. If you’re still being cautious, you want your groceries to last as long as possible, and taking a trip to the grocery store just to pick up extra eggs and potatoes for your Easter spread isn’t worth the risk.
Instead, consider supporting local businesses. Call around to see which restaurants are open on Easter Sunday and if those restaurants are offering a to-go or delivery special for Easter meals. (Chances are, at least one place is.) Place your order a few days in advance so the restaurant is prepared and get ready to enjoy your meal with minimal prep or stress on your part.
#5. Rethink Easter baskets and gifts
The overflowing Easter baskets of years past may not be possible this year, either because money is tight or you’re unable to visit your go-to stores to pick up all the supplies and gifts. (Online delivery may not be as speedy as you’d like this year, either.) Save the big adult Easter basket for next year: Consider tucking homemade sweets into baskets or fill them with print-outs or drawings of the Easter gifts you plan to order or buy once businesses are open again. (Consider it an IOU from the Easter Bunny.) If you can, for Easter gifts for kids, focus on digital gifts you can enjoy in the moment: Buy and download a new movie or new game for them to enjoy at home.
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