Sunday, 31 March 2013

Holy Week (Hebdomas Sancta) - Easter

The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week

Holy Week (Latin: Hebdomas Sancta or Hebdomas Maior, "Greater Week"; Greek: Ἁγία καὶ Μεγάλη Ἑβδομάς, Hagia kai Megale Hebdomas) in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter. It includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday), Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. It does not include Easter Sunday. In Eastern Orthodox tradition, Holy Week starts on Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday. (Easter Sunday, for context, is the first day of the new season of the Great Fifty Days, or Eastertide, there being fifty days from Easter Sunday through Pentecost Sunday.) It is followed by Easter Week in the Liturgical year.

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Easter is celebrated on a Sunday between March 22 and April 28. Christians commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and thus his victory over death. Easter Sunday celebrations include an elaborate build-up of festivities that cover 40 days of Lent and a whole week of significant remembrances.

Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus, believed to have occurred on a Sunday, three days after his crucifixion and death. The celebrations are closely associated with the Jewish Passover feast as the early Christians were Jews and as Jesus' death and resurrection is closely associated to the Jewish Passover feast. In French, "Easter" is known as Pacques, in Dutch Paachand in Hebrew Pesach which means "passover". However, when Christianity was adopted as the national religion of Rome by Emperor Constantine, aspects of the pagan Spring festivities of fertility were incorporated into the celebrations. "Easter" comes from the Germanic word Ostern which means "to rise" although its earlier Anglo-Saxon root refers to the Germanic Goddess of spring called Eostre or the spring festival Eostur. 

The date for calculating when Easter Sunday falls each year has remained controversial. The major denominations ranging from Episcopal to Greek Orthodox, vary in the way they determine when Easter Sunday falls.

Special Days:

Ash Wednesday
Holy Week

Palm Sunday
Maundy Thursday
Good Friday
Holy Saturday
Ascension Sunday
Easter Sunday

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Easter Day

Easter day is an important festival in western countries. The day is an official Christian holiday in many countries and celebrated with great pleasure and joy. If you are eagerly waiting for easter, there is no doubt, you might have started planning for it months earlier because it is one of the most important and highly respected religious occasions in Christianity.

Easter, not only is just a religious holiday for the Christians but along with the holy respect of the occasion all around the world, the welcome of the spring makes the occasion more beautiful and widely celebrated occasions of the year, adding new thoughts, fresh beginnings and motivation.

According to the church calendar, easter is a greatest holy day and the Christians celebrate this day with a huge celebration at their home with traditional activities, having a joyful time with all their loved ones. Well, if you are waiting for the day to make your loved ones feel special, then here comes the occasion easter, it is not only a perfect day to make your closest ones feel special but it is the day that symbolizes fresh and new beginnings and this adds an extra bit of excitement to the entire celebration.

A Tale of Two Easters

Why one faith and two celebrations? Easter is not only a movable holiday but a multiple one: in most years Western Christian churches and Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Easter on different dates. In 2013, for example, Easter will be celebrated on March 31 by Western churches and May 5 by Orthodox churches. But in 2011, the two celebrations occured on the same date, April 24.

The theological inconsistency of two Easters has remained a thorny problem for the Christian Church. "It has long been recognized that to celebrate this fundamental aspect of the Christian faith on different dates," states the World Council of Churches, "gives a divided witness and compromises the churches' credibility and effectiveness in bringing the Gospel to the world."

The formula for Easter—"The first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox"—is identical for both Western and Orthodox Easters, but the churches base the dates on different calendars: Western churches use the Gregorian calendar, the standard calendar for much of the world, and Orthodox churches use the older, Julian calendar

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When is Easter Sunday 2013?

Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. Some years show Western Christian churches and Eastern Orthodox churches celebrating Easter on different dates. This is because Western churches use the Gregorian calendar (standard calendar for most of the world) and Orthodox churches use the older Julian calendar. Eastern Orthodox Easter always falls after Passover since the Crucifixion and Resurrection took place after Jesus entered Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. For a more detailed explanation why some Easter dates differ between Western and Eastern churches, check out A Tale of Two Easters.

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6th century depiction of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus from the Rabbula Gospels

Easter (Old English Ēostre; Latin: Pascha; Greek Πάσχα Paskha, from Hebrew: פֶּסַחPesah) is a Christian festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament. Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday), commemorating the Last Supper and its preceding foot washing as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Easter is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide, or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday

Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March equinox. Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on 21 March (even though the equinox occurs, astronomically speaking, on 20 March in most years), and the "Full Moon" is not necessarily the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies between 22 March and 25 April. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian calendar, whose 21 March corresponds, during the 21st century, to 3 April in the Gregorian calendar, in which the celebration of Easter therefore varies between 4 April and 8 May.

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many languages, the words for "Easter" and "Passover" are etymologically related or homonymous. Easter customs vary across the Christian world, but attending sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church and decorating Easter eggs, a symbol of the empty tomb, are common motifs. Additional customs include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades, which are observed by both Christians and some non-Christians

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Easter in Singapore

Plastic Easter eggs in baskets awaiting Easter egg hunt

I’d think that Easter is far more worth celebrating than Christmas – the death and resurrection of Jesus more than his birth (although technically, he had to be born to die etc). His resurrection is a bit like a rainbow, because both signify certain of God’s promises, though Jesus’ resurrection gives actual proof that God has been faithful.

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Good Friday is an important religious day for many Christians and it commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In churches all over Singapore, special prayer services are held. At the St. Joseph's Catholic Church on Victoria Street, Catholics clasp white candles in a moving procession bearing the figure of the crucified Christ.