5 Facts About Easter You Might Not Know
No matter what your faith background is, you’re probably familiar with the Easter holiday. For Christians, Easter marks the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, represented by the stone rolled away from the grave. In our American culture, we also associate Easter with bunnies, candy, and egg hunts. However, there are a few other sides to Easter that you might not know about.
1. Another translation for “Easter” is “Passover.”
In many European languages, the feast called Easter in English is called a passover — Pascua in Spanish and Pasques in French, for example — and in the older English versions of the Bible, the term Easter was also used to translate passover. Other languages take the word for Easter from the Greek and Latin Pascha or Pasch, for Passover. In the Bible, Jesus is often called the “Lamb of God” like in Passover tradition, so the association makes sense.
2. As a symbol of new life, the Easter egg has deep roots in ancient Christian history.
In medieval times, eggs were often one of the first foods that people ate after fasting for Lent. Early Greek and Syrian Christians started to dye the eggs crimson “to represent the blood of Christ,” according to Priscilla Sawyer and Daniel J. Foley in Easter Garland.
3. Easter is celebrated at different times of the year by Eastern and Western Christians.
This is because Eastern Christians base their dates on the Julian Calendar, which was instituted by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. In Western Christianity, the Easter season begins on Easter Sunday and continues for seven weeks, ending with the coming of the fiftieth day, Pentecost Sunday. In Eastern Christianity, the Pascha season begins on Pascha and ends with the coming of the fortieth day, the Feast of the Ascension.
4. Lilium longiflorum, AKA the Easter Lily, is also a symbol of the resurrection.
Many churches incorporate the trumpet-shaped white flowers in their floral arrangements for Easter. Lilies are most famously referenced by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount when He tells the crowd “consider the lilies of the field,” but they have also historically been associated with the Virgin Mary in early paintings and storytelling traditions.
5. Some Protestant churches celebrate Easter with a sunrise service.
The first such service took place in 1732 in Herrhut, Germany, when a group of unmarried Moravian men gathered at the nearby cemetery to worship. A year later, the whole congregation joined them, and the sunrise service became a staple to liturgical tradition. The sunrise service is associated with the women who discovered the empty tomb on the first Easter Sunday.