Easter Season


Also found in: Wikipedia.

Easter Season

Eastertide

From ancient times Christians have honored the fifty days including and following Easter Sunday as a holy season. Today we call this period of time Eastertide, or the Easter season. In those days, however, this seven-week festival was known as Pentekoste, the Greek word for "fiftieth." The early Christians celebrated each of the fifty days as if it were a Sunday. This meant that they neither fasted nor knelt to pray, both of which activities carried penitential overtones (for more on penance, see Repentance). Instead they rejoiced over the Resurrection, Ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the gift of redemption, and the hope of salvation.

Scholars believe that the early Christians patterned this festive season on a series of pre-existing Jewish observances. For example, Christians celebrated Easter Sunday on or near the date when Jews celebrated Passover. Christian scripture states that Jesus'crucifixion took place on Passover (or the day preceding Passover) and weaves Passover themes into accounts of his death and resurrection. After Passover Jews observed Sefirat Haomer, or "Counting the Omer." They dedicated this seven-week period to prayers for the spring harvest (for more on Sefirat Haomer, see Shavuot). After Sefirat Haomer came Shavuot, a spring harvest festival.

Sometime around the fourth century the long festive season attached to Easter Sunday dissolved into three separate festivals, each with its own themes. Easter Sunday, along with Easter Week, commemorated the Resurrection and the associated themes of redemption and salvation. The last of the fifty days of rejoicing became Pentecost, a holiday honoring the coming of the Holy Spirit. In addition, Ascension Day, a festival celebrating Jesus' ascent into heaven, attached itself to the fortieth day after Easter. The old fifty-day season that stretched seven weeks from Easter Sunday remained in place though its importance declined. The English dubbed this period of time "Eastertide." It is also known as the Easter season. Some call the first forty days of the Easter season "the forty glorious days," since they commemorate the time during which the risen Jesus still visited his disciples in bodily form.

Customs

Some churches observe the Easter season with special rituals and customs. The word alleluia or hallelujah, which comes from an old Hebrew phrase meaning "praise the Lord," rings out frequently in worship services. Among those churches that use the liturgical colors associated with the festivals and seasons of the Christian year, priests wear special white robes and church decorations feature the color white. In Christian symbolism white signifies joy. The paschal candle, a tall white candle decorated with emblems of Christ, stands near the altar during the fifty days. It reminds worshipers of the presence of the risen Jesus among his followers, the central theme of the Easter season.

Further Reading

Metford, J. C. J. The Christian Year. London, England: Thames and Hudson, 1991. Slim, Hugo. A Feast of Festivals. London, England: Marshall Pickering, 1996. Talley, Thomas J. The Origins of the Liturgical Year. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1986.
References in periodicals archive ?
A Catholic Church leader has called on Catholics to "be ready to defend your faith" as the Church marks Pentecost Sunday tomorrow (June 9), marking the end of the Easter season.
It may not be the most visually-appealing dish, but it is scrumptious-beyond-words and thus the perfect way to celebrate the holy Easter season.
As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday just before Easter.
Would you know that Lent is only the first part of the overall religious observance of the Easter season?
Akinwale Laosun has congratulated the people of the state and Nigerians, especially Christians on the successful completion of the Lenten season and the opportunity to witness another Easter season.
I always feel a little lost in South Africa, when the Easter season approaches.
This Easter season to get your kids, and possibly yourself, unglued from screens, venture out into nature and enjoy some hands-on workshops with a seasonal theme.
figure By JAMES KAHONGEH Have you ever wondered why eggs are associated with the Easter season? Some Christians send out and receive gift baskets containing eggs during this period.
When Veronica DeKruiff was a little egg-hunter, her parents would take her to Naperville's Frontier Park during the Easter season for a free-for-all search for treasure.
Although the book has only been out on the shelves for one Easter season, this book/bunny combo has had an aggressive launch with a spot next to the Easter Bunny at various malls throughout the country.
As we approach the end of this Easter season the Feasts of the Church do something similar.
Even though we are in the Easter season, these readings from the Seventh Sunday of Easter draw me back to a particular date in November, specifically Nov.