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Festivals - Happy Easter 2011
 
Easter is the annual festival commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the principal feast of the Christian year. It is celebrated on a Sunday on varying dates between March 22 and April 25 and is therefore called a movable feast. The dates of several other ecclesiastical festivals, extending over a period between Septuagesima Sunday (the ninth Sunday before Easter) and the first Sunday of Advent, are fixed in relation to the date of Easter.

Connected with the observance of Easter are the 40-day penitential season of Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday and concluding at midnight on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday; Holy Week, commencing on Palm Sunday, including Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion, and terminating with Holy Saturday; and the Octave of Easter, extending from Easter Sunday through the following Sunday. During the Octave of Easter in early Christian times, the newly baptized wore white garments, white being the liturgical color of Easter and signifying light, purity, and joy.

The Christian festival of Easter probably embodies a number of converging traditions; most scholars emphasize the original relation of Easter to the Jewish festival of Passover, or Pesach, from which is derived Pasch, another name for Easter. The early Christians, many of whom were of Jewish origin, were brought up in the Hebrew tradition

and regarded Easter as a new feature of the Passover festival, a commemoration of the advent of the Messiah as foretold by the prophets.

 

What is the Easter story ?

Easter is the story of Jesus' last days in Jerusalem before his death. The Easter story includes Maundy Thursday (the Last supper leading to the Eucharist), Good Friday (the day on which Jesus was crucified) and Easter Day (the day on which Jesus came back to life).

It is a sad story because Jesus was killed. But the story has a very happy ending, because Jesus came back to life and visited his friends and followers once more. He did not die at all, but went back up to Heaven to be with God, his father.

 

What happens on Easter Sunday today?

Christians gather together on Easter Sunday for a Sunrise Service. This service takes place on a hill side so everyone can see the sun rise.

Some Christians take part in an Easter vigil, lighting a new fire outside the church early on Sunday morning. The Paschal candle, decorated with studs to celebrate Christ's wounds, may be lit from the fire and carried into the church where it is used to light the candles of the worshippers. The Easter Eucharist is a particularly joyful service. It is a popular time for baptisms and renewal of baptism vows.

Some churches have an Easter Garden . A stone is placed across the mouth of a tomb before Easter, then rolled away on Easter morning.

The traditional Easter gift is a chocolate egg.
 
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