This weekend, people across the world will come together to celebrate Easter. But what does it really mean to the Christians who celebrate it?
For a start, the meaning of Easter is much more than chocolate eggs and bunny rabbits. It’s the oldest and most important festival of the Christian Church, with Christians believing that Jesus Christ died for their sins and that on the third day, Easter Sunday, he rose again. According to Sarah, one of our team at SARI who’s a Christian, “we’re celebrating the fact that he had victory over death; that he conquered death, that he rose again and that he’s alive today.”
For many Christians, Easter is preceded by Lent, marking the time that Jesus went to the desert to fast and pray for 40 days. It is a period of devotion, self-reflection, and penitence, and many Christians will observe it by abstaining from certain foods or activities. It’s also a time to prepare for Easter and think about Holiness. The culmination of Lent is Holy Week, which is the name given to the week leading up to Easter Sunday, commemorating the final days before the execution of Jesus.
Eggs do bear some relevance to the Christian celebration. In many cultures and traditions, including Christianity, they are a symbol of new life, and for many Christians they also represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and his resurrection.
Different denominations, and even different places, have their own way of celebrating. On the Greek island of Chios, two churches stage a “rocket war”, aiming to hit the other churches’ bell with fireworks. In Bermuda, people fly homemade kites to symbolise Jesus’s ascension into heaven. In France, church bells fall silent from Maundy Thursday until Sunday. And in Ethiopia, people marking Fasika (the Amharic word for Easter) will abstain from all meat and dairy products for 55 days, breaking the fast with a meal of chicken stew, bread and tej. In many places, there will be Easter parades, often with intricate religious symbols.
At SARI, we wish everyone celebrating a very Happy Easter, however you’re celebrating. We hope that this is a time of self-reflection, celebration and rejuvenation.