At Easter time in the UK we have two bank holidays (public holidays): Good Friday and Easter Monday. This means that many families can enjoy a long weekend together.
This year Easter will fall on Sunday 8 April 2012
Easter is the time for holidays, festivals and a time for giving chocolate Easter eggs. But Easter means much more....
Easter is the oldest and the most important Christian Festival, the celebration of the death and coming to life again of Jesus Christ. For Christians, the dawn of Easter Sunday with its message of new life is the high point of the Christian year.
Easter is the story of Jesus' last days in Jerusalem before his death.The Easter story includes Maundy Thursday (the Last supper leading to the Eucharist), Good Friday (the day on which Jesus was crucified) and Easter Day (the day on which Jesus came back to life).
It is a sad story because Jesus was killed. But the story has a very happy ending, because Jesus came back to life and visited his friends and followers once more. He did not die at all, but went back up to Heaven to be with God, his father.
Pagan traditions give us the English word "Easter" which comes from the word "Eostre". The Anglo-Saxon word for April was "Eostre-monath" (the month of openings). However, it should be remembered that Christians celebrated the resurrection of Christ long before the word "Easter" was used, and the word they used for the celebration was "Pascha", which is derived from and linked to the Jewish festival of Passover.
According to Bede, the English monastic historian, the English word Easter comes from the Anglo-Saxon name for the month of April, which was known as "Eostremonath" in the AngloSaxon tongue and since Pascha was most often celebrated in Eostremonath, the English Christians began calling it "Easter". Bede also notes that the month was named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess Esostre.
Rituals related to the goddess Eostre focus on new beginnings, symbolized by the Easter egg, and fertility, which is symbolized by the hare (or Easter bunny).
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