Easter, called Pascha (Latin, Greek, Aramaic derivation) or Resurrection Sunday, is a religious holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is recorded in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day after His crucifixion in 30 AD. As established by the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, it typically falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon following the northern spring equinox.
Most Christians refer to the prior week as "Holy Week" or the Easter Triduum. It commences with Palm Sunday and includes Holy or Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. For Christians, Easter is the holiest day of the year. Without Easter, Christianity would be hard pressed to sell. The very act of Christ rising from the dead is one of the many miracles in which Christians believe. Some denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, refer to these miracles as "Mysteries of Life."
Indeed they are, and the greatest is the Resurrection. It is this act in which Christians establish the Divinity of Christ. In truth, Christ’s resurrection should come as no surprise. After all, if Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, surely He could do the same for himself, rise majestically and roll back the heavy stone guarding the tomb.
Easter and other related holidays, are known as "moveable feasts." That is, they appear annually on different dates. Still, in western Christianity, which follows the Gregorian calendar, Easter always falls on spring dates between March 22nd and April 25th.
Changes, however, just may be coming. In the 20th century, both individuals and institutions have advocated a fixed date for Easter; the most prominent proposal being the Sunday after the second Saturday in April. Despite having support, proposals to reform the date have not yet been implemented.
In the United Kingdom, the Easter Act of 1928 proposed legislation for the date of Easter to fall on the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April. Although it remains a proposal and could be passed if approval by the various Christian churches, legislation has not been executed.
In the Eastern Orthodox communities that still follow the Julian calendar, Christians celebrate Easter on a Sunday that falls anywhere between April 4th and May 8th. In May 2014, on the anniversary of the meeting between himself and Pope Francis, Coptic Pope Tawadros II asked the Roman Pontiff to consider a unified date for Easter.
On the Greek island of Syros, whose population is divided almost equally between Catholics and Orthodox, the Catholics accept the Orthodox date. It’s one of the few places where the two different Churches share a common date for Easter. As such, it becomes a practice that helps considerably in maintaining good relations between the two communities.
In January 2016, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, announced that on behalf of the Anglican Communion, he had joined discussions with Catholic, Coptic and Orthodox representatives over a fixed date for Easter, and that he hoped it would happen within the next five to ten years. He suggested that Easter be fixed on either the second or third Sunday of April relative to the Gregorian calendar. Since Eastern Orthodox churches still date Easter using the Julian calendar, this proposal has yet to be approved.
In some Protestant denominations, Easter Sunday marks the beginning of Eastertide, or the Easter Season. Eastertide ends on the 50th day after Easter, which is known as Pentecost Sunday.
In 2015 Pope Francis signaled an openness to changing the Easter date in the west. It is believed that the Pope plans to offer this initiative as a gift of unity with the other Christian denominations and that a common date could encourage reconciliation between the Christian churches.
From our house to yours have a Blessed and Happy Easter.
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