What You Need to Know About Easter

When Is Easter 2017?

Easter 2017 begins with Holy Saturday on April 15 and Easter Sunday on April 16. But two days don’t really do it justice. Catholics celebrate Easter over a span of 50 days! What a party!

Popular Easter Traditions

What’s great about being Catholic is that we don’t just celebrate Easter at church. We also celebrate it in our homes, with our family and friends, and in our communities.

Some of the most popular ways to celebrate Easter include decorating Easter eggs, going on an Easter egg hunt, and preparing for the Easter Bunny.

Where Do Easter Eggs Come From?

The Romans used to have a saying: Omne vivum ex ovo, or “All life comes from an egg.” Eggs have long been a symbol of fertility and rebirth. Ancient, pre-Christian people in Africa and Egypt incorporated eggs into their celebration of the spring season, when life emerges from the cold of winter.

Early Christians in Mesopotamia (modern day Syria and Iraq) dyed chicken eggs red in remembrance of the blood Jesus shed on the cross. By the Middle Ages, the egg also became a symbol of the sealed tomb of Jesus. On Easter Sunday, Christians would carry eggs that they would tap against the eggs of the Christians they greeted. The cracks that formed in these eggs symbolized Jesus breaking out of the tomb.

Easter Egg Hunts, Easter Baskets & the Easter Bunny

Hard-boiling eggs, and even hunting for them, emerged as an Easter custom out of necessity. During the late medieval period, Christians were not allowed to eat eggs during Lent. They hardboiled the eggs their chickens produced during this time so the eggs would not go to waste.

If a family did not own their own chickens, the children would go out on Easter Sunday (when eggs could finally be eaten) and search for the eggs of various wild birds to eat for breakfast.

By the 16th century, and especially in Germany, hunting for eggs was turned into a game. Eggs were deliberately hidden on Easter Sunday and children competed to see who could find the most. Of course, these children needed something to carry all their eggs in. This is one of the origins of the Easter basket.

German immigrants to Pennsylvania brought their custom of hunting for Easter eggs to America, where it became widely popular. They are also responsible for the origin of the Easter Bunny. In German folklore, it was actually an Easter Hare (an animal related to rabbits, but larger and faster). He would bring eggs to the children (instead of the children having to find them), as long as the children were good and ready for Easter.

Nowadays, the eggs we find on Easter morning are usually plastic or made of chocolate and contain various kinds of candy. Coloring hard-boiled eggs is also a popular Easter activity.

What Is Easter Really All About?

Eggs, baskets, bunnies. All of these are great fun, but Easter is about so much more. Easter is the story of the worst day becoming the best day in all of human history.

After Jesus died on the cross, hope seemed lost forever. This man who claimed to be the Son of God, with power to perform mighty miracles and to renew the world, was no longer with his followers. Darkness covered the earth and they hid in fear, convinced they would be next.

But something new and unexpected happened.

Instead of lying there, lifeless in the tomb, Jesus came back to life again! This is the Resurrection: an extraordinary victory in the face of defeat. Jesus conquered death so that we might conquer death. He lives forever so that we might live forever with him in heaven.

That is what Easter is really all about. At Easter we remember the greatest of all great moments—Jesus’ Resurrection. And that is why Easter is the oldest and most joyous celebration of the year.

The Easter Vigil

Catholics begin their celebration of Easter on Holy Saturday with the Easter Vigil, a special Mass late in the evening. This Mass marks Jesus’ passage from death to life. It is as if we are at the tomb of Jesus, eagerly awaiting his Resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday.

Get ready! You will see things at the Easter Vigil that you’ve never seen at any other Mass: a blazing fire outside, the church shrouded in darkness, every person holding a candle, children and adults joining the Catholic family. And that’s just a taste of what makes the Easter Vigil so unique!

Easter Bible Verses

Here are 10 Bible passages about Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus:

He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8)

And he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. (Mark 8:31)

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)

[Joseph of Arimathea] bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Mag’dalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid. (Mark 15:46-47)

And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.” (Mark 16:5-7)

And with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:33)

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)

“[God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:4-5)

For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:16-19)

What a story!

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