7 Quick Facts About Easter

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  1. For the Christian faith, Easter (known as paschal in Latin and Greek, stemming from pesah in Hebrew) memorializes the most central event of all history—the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is the most significant time on the church’s calendar. At Easter, the church celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, which confirmed his identity as the Son of God, completed his earthly ministry to atone for sins, and served as a first fruit of the promise of new life and resurrection for all who put their faith in him.
  1. Easter Sunday is the culmination of Holy Week, which includes Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The forty day period of prayer and fasting called Lent ends on Maundy Thursday, when Jesus shared in the Passover meal with his disciples.
  1. Easter is a moveable feast, which means it falls on different dates every year. In 325 AD the Council of Nicea established the date as the Sunday following the first full moon on or after the Spring Equinox.
  1. The Christian observance of Easter is intimately related to the Jewish festival of Passover, which celebrates Israel’s emancipation from Egyptian bondage. In the second millennium BC, Pharaoh changed his mind and released the Hebrew slaves following the fateful night of judgment on his and all of Egypt’s households for their injustice (Exodus 12:29). The angel of death passed over the Israelite homes after they marked their doorposts with lamb’s blood. Through Good Friday and Easter, Jesus serves as the ultimate Passover lamb for all people, in order that the world might escape the wages of sin (Mark 14:12; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19 Revelation 5:6).
  1. Easter is the most significant and theologically potent of all Christian holy days. Not only was Jesus vindicated by God and raised for our forgiveness of sins (Romans 4:24-25), but his resurrection serves as a model for the promise of the Christian hope of eternal bodily existence and the renewal of all creation (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2). Indeed, Paul said that without Christ’s resurrection, Christian faith is useless and all are still in their sins ( 1 Corinthians 15:13-18).
  1. The origin of the Easter bunny and egg tradition is disputed, but it was likely brought to America by German immigrants in the 18th century. They both serve as apt symbols for renewal and new creation. Eggs have been decorated since ancient times, so their origin is unrelated to Easter, but the practice was likely adopted and appropriated for Easter since eggs are traditionally one of the foods from which Christians fast during Lent. When the Lenten fast was broken, people would celebrate with fresh egg baskets and colorful decorations.
  1. Attempts to trace the history of the Christian holy day to pagan origins have proven to be vain, although the mythic theme of heroes dying and rising are archetypal and remain at the center of human consciousness. C. S. Lewis called Christianity the “myth which is also a fact,” because its story actually occurred in history—real time and space.

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