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According to Wikipedia, Easter is a ‘moveable feast’ celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. For Christians, it comes at the end of a period of prayer and abstinence called Lent, and includes Maundy Thursday (remembering the Last Supper), Good Friday (commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus), and Easter Sunday (the celebration of the resurrection).
In many countries, tree trunks are painted white and on Easter Sunday – instead of simply saying hello – people routinely exchange the Paschal greeting: “Christ is risen!” “He is risen indeed!”
One symbol of Easter is the lamb, representing Christ slain to atone for people’s sins. In many places Easter eggs (a symbol of new life and the empty tomb) are sumptuously decorated with beads and rich colours. In Britain, we buy eggs made of chocolate, dress as bunnies and hunt for them in the garden – less earnest perhaps, but tastier.
For many people, the religious significance of Easter is less prominent than it once was. Seeking Easter cards in a local supermarket this week, we noticed how few of the cards openly proclaimed that ‘Christ is Risen’, or had even a mildly religious theme. Some avoided the word ‘Easter’ altogether, referring instead to ‘Springtime’. Maybe it is a sign of society’s steady secularisation.
Yet even in this, we are re-enacting ancient traditions. This is because, to celebrate Christ’s resurrection, the early Christian missionaries to northern Europe hijacked a pre-Christian festival to the goddess Eostre, celebrating the coming of Spring.
So Eastertime, since time immemorial, has always been about the joys of spring, and the opportunity everyone has to ‘turn their life around’ – to join Nature and Christ in being “born again”.
And whatever your religion or none, The Newton News – Your Community Newspaper wishes all its readers a happy Easter and a refreshing holiday.