Easter is a joyous and significant holiday for Christians around the world, but for children, it can be challenging to understand its true meaning. As a parent, you may be thinking of explaining the significance of Easter to your kids in a way that they can appreciate and comprehend.
We have answered some of the most asked questions in this guide to help you teach your kids about Easter.
What is Easter and Why Do People Celebrate it?
Easter is a special holiday that Christians celebrate to remember when Jesus came back to life after he died. As per the Bible, Jesus was crucified on Good Friday and buried in a tomb. Three days later, on Easter Sunday, he rose from the dead, an event that is referred to as the resurrection.
This event is considered the cornerstone of the Christian faith, as it validates Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God and provides hope for eternal life to believers. The celebration of Easter includes various customs and traditions, such as attending church services, decorating eggs, giving Easter baskets full of candies and gifts, and organizing egg hunts.
Aside from the religious significance of the holiday, Easter is also linked to the arrival of spring, new beginnings, and renewal. The first Sunday after the full moon is observed as the vernal equinox, usually between March 22 and April 25.
Why is it Called Easter?
The origin of the word “Easter” is not entirely clear. One theory suggests that it comes from the Old English word “Ēastre,” which was the name of a pagan festival that celebrated the arrival of spring. Another theory suggests that it comes from the Latin phrase “hebdomada alba,” meaning “white week,” which refers to the white garments worn by people baptized during the Easter Vigil.
Over time, as Christianity spread and the pagan festival of Ēastre faded away, the Old English word “Ēastre” originated from a pagan festival that commemorated the coming of spring. Today, Easter is a Christian holiday observed around the world, although the name of the holiday may vary depending on the language and culture of the region.
Who Created Easter?
It turns out that Easter didn’t begin as a Christian holiday but rather as a pagan festival celebrating spring in the Northern Hemisphere. As the University of Sydney Professor Carole Cusack points out, people have been celebrating the equinoxes and solstices as sacred times since prehistoric times.
The spring equinox, in particular, is significant because it marks the day when the amount of daylight and darkness is exactly identical, marking the start of spring and the end of winter.
When is Easter in 2023?
The date of Easter changes every year. In the year 2023, Easter will occur on Sunday, April 9. In most cases, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon, which occurs around the time of the spring equinox. However, Orthodox Christians, who follow the Julian calendar, celebrate Easter every year on a Sunday between April 4 and May 8.
All the observances related to Easter, such as Palm Sunday and Ash Wednesday, are known as “moveable feasts.”
How is Easter Celebrated?
Easter is celebrated in different ways across the globe, but some common traditions and activities include:
- Attending church services: Within the Christian calendar, Easter Sunday holds significant importance, and many people attend special church services to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- Decorating eggs: Painting, dyeing, and decorating eggs is a popular Easter tradition that symbolizes new life and rebirth. These eggs are often hidden or exchanged as gifts during Easter celebrations.
- Easter egg hunts: Many families organize Easter egg hunts, where children search for hidden eggs in their homes, gardens, or local parks. Some communities also hold larger egg hunts or Easter festivals.
- Easter baskets: It is a common practice to give Easter baskets filled with candy, toys, and other treats to children.
- Hot cross buns: A type of sweet bread that is marked with a cross on top, hot cross buns are a customary Easter food in many countries.
- Easter parades: Some communities hold parades to celebrate Easter, featuring floats, costumes, and live music.
- Spring cleaning: In some cultures, people thoroughly clean their homes in preparation for Easter, symbolizing a fresh start and new beginnings.
- Visiting family and friends: Easter is a joyous occasion that brings loved ones together to celebrate, often with large meals and festive gatherings.
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Why Do People Celebrate Easter with Eggs?
The tradition of decorating and exchanging eggs during Easter has its roots in ancient pagan practices that celebrated the arrival of spring and new life. These celebrations often used eggs, a symbol of new life and fertility.
Over time, as Christianity spread, the egg became associated with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Just as a chick hatches from an egg, Christians firmly believe that Jesus rose from the dead and emerged from his tomb.
In the Middle Ages, Christians began decorating eggs with religious symbols and scenes, such as Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, and giving them as gifts. Today, the tradition of decorating Easter eggs is still popular, and they are often used in egg hunts and other festive activities during the Easter season.
Easter Signs: What Are They?
Easter is traditionally associated with several signs and symbols, including:
- Easter Eggs: Decorating eggs is a famous symbol of Easter. It’s a tradition that has ancient roots, representing new life and rebirth.
- Easter Bunny: It is another famous symbol of Easter. According to tradition, the Easter Bunny delivers eggs to children on Easter Sunday.
- Cross: The cross symbolizes Christianity and represents the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- Lilies: These are often associated with Easter and signify purity and new life.
- Palm Branches: They are used during Palm Sunday, which is the Sunday before Easter, to symbolize the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
- Hot Cross Buns: A traditional Easter treat made from spiced dough with a cross on the top, symbolizing the crucifixion of Jesus.
These signs and symbols represent the different aspects of the Easter story and are an integral part of the celebrations.
What is Good Friday?
Observed on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, Good Friday is a critical day in the Christian calendar as it commemorates the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, who was resurrected on Easter Sunday.
According to Christian tradition, Jesus was arrested and tried in front of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, who sentenced him to be crucified. Jesus was crucified on a Friday, which came to be known as Good Friday. It is considered a day of mourning and reflection for Christians around the world.
On the other hand, Easter is a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, which occurred on the third day after his crucifixion. Therefore, it is the most important holiday in the Christian calendar, symbolizing the victory of life over death and the assurance of eternal life for those who believe.
So, while Good Friday commemorates the death of Jesus, Easter Sunday celebrates his resurrection, and together they form the most significant events in the Christian faith.
What is Palm Sunday?
As a Christian holiday, Palm Sunday is observed on the Sunday before Easter. It commemorates Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, which took place a week before his crucifixion and resurrection.
According to the Bible, as Jesus entered Jerusalem, crowds lined the streets, waving palm branches and laying them on the ground before him. They also shouted “Hosanna!” a Hebrew word meaning “save us now.”
The start of Holy Week, Palm Sunday, is a significant day in the Christian faith as it paves the way for Easter Sunday’s celebrations. It is a time of reflection and preparation for Christians as they remember Jesus’ final days on Earth.
Many churches observe Palm Sunday by distributing palm leaves or branches to the congregation, who then wave them as they sing hymns and processions. It is a joyous celebration and a sad reminder of the events that would soon unfold in Jesus’ life.