How is Easter’s date decided? Good question. And here’s another four questions you’ve probably never bothered asking about the most important holiday in the liturgical calendar.
It’s a time that, for over 1,000 years, has been dedicated to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But Easter is a complex and ancient holiday, with roots in religions that pre-date Christianity. Nevertheless, with holidays like Christmas and Halloween taking predominance in Western culture, Easter has also lost its appeal and importance. So here are five facts about Easter that will make you respect it once again.
How Is Easter’s Date Decided? The March equinox (which marks the time when the sun shines directly onto the equator and when the day is almost as long as the night) is celebrated on a different date every year on both the Gregorian and the Julian calendars. Easter is celebrated at the same time as the equinox, and this is due to the fact that, in the Bible, Jesus’s death and resurrection happened around the time of the Jewish Passover – which also coincided with the March equinox. To determine when both the March equinox and Easter Sunday will be, the cycle of the moon is used – in fact, Easter is always on the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon.
When Did Easter Become an Official Christian Holiday? Roman Emperor Constantine I’s legacy is one that can still be felt today. In fact, at the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325, the Church as we know it came into being, and many of its teachings were formed. At this council, many agreed that a set date for Easter needed to be decided as Jewish Christians and Western Christians were celebrating it on different dates – so, tentatively, that is when Easter became an official Christian Holiday.
Why Can’t We Eat Meat During the 40 Days Leading Up to Easter? In the Middle Ages, the Church in Europe was the most powerful entity in Europe. In fact, by the 1600s, the Holy Roman Empire stretched from parts of France to Ukraine and down to northern Italy. To cut a long story short, the Church believed that, during Lent, people should not be lustful, and seeing as meat is the product of sex, it was cut off the menu – and it wasn’t just during the 40 days of Lent, people in the Middle Ages were also not allowed to eat meat on certain days of each and every week. Why did people follow it? Because the Church had a monopoly on Heaven!
How Are The Easter Bunny and Easter Eggs Related? The Easter Bunny originated in Germany by Lutherans, and played pretty much the same role as Santa Claus (i.e. to see whether children had been naughty or nice). No one really knows why he’s related to the Easter Eggs, but from the first mention of this mythical hare in 1682, the Easter Bunny has always carried a basket full of coloured eggs and candy.
What does ‘Easter’ actually mean? In the English language, the word ‘Easter’ comes from the Teutonic (German) goddess of the rising light of day and spring. Although there are no official documents that describe the reason why this was chosen as the word for the holiday that celebrates Jesus’s resurrection, it is highly likely this due to the significance of the word and the goddess at the time.
Do you know any other interesting facts about Easter that James hasn’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments’ box below!