The meaning of Easter

Happy Easter everyone!
 I hope you had a great start to the Easter season! Maybe you are asking yourself: “Easter Season? I thought Easter has already passed.” In fact, according to most Christian traditions, Easter is not an event on one day, but it is actually a time celebrated for about fifty days, until the day of Pentecost. If you’re interested in why that is and what Easter is all about, stick around!

The meaning of Easter
Imagine a man who just got electrocuted or a dead man with a rope around his neck, killed brutally by the government, became the widest spread sign on the entire planet and a symbol of hope for billions of people. Sounds crazy, right? But it is a great analogy to what happened to this famous first century Jew, that goes by the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Neither he was just poisoned or shot by arrows, nor he fell under the sword. Instead, he was brutally publicly executed with the worst instrument of torcher that the great Roman Empire could come up with. People in the first century A.D knew what it meant to be killed on a cross, it was a sign of horror, shock, and shame for them. So why do Christians and Non-Christians all around the world wear crosses or make the sign of the cross with pride? Why is it the most used sign on paintings and other pieces of art? The answer to these questions is the reason for our fifty-day Easter celebration.

As the Bible and other first century sources claim and as Christians believe, Jesus of Nazareth died on the cross on Friday and was laid into a tomb, which can still be found in Jerusalem today. On Saturday, the Jews kept the Sabbath – their religious day of rest – so no one came to the tomb. But when Mary of Magdala, Peter, and John (mother and the closed disciples of Jesus), came to the tomb to cry and mourn on Sunday, they returned full of joy, because – as they claim – they met Jesus, not dead, but alive, resurrected from the dead. Then Jesus appeared to them over and over again. At one point he allegedly even appeared to 500 people at once. And all these people spent the rest of their lives telling everyone what they had experienced: God himself became a man, shared the love of God with everyone, was unjustly killed on the cross, but he defeated death and is alive.

Therefore, Easter is a feast of life, a feast of love. It means that even in death and in the worst that can happen, in the worst things that can be done to an innocent person, love triumphs over hatred and goodness always has the last say.

Easter traditions
So, as noted before, Christians celebrate this great feast for 50 days. “Why exactly for 50 days?” – you could ask. As the bible says, Jesus told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem for 50 days after the resurrection until he would send them his spirit, so that they would know what to do. Accordingly, the festive period continues for 50 days and is completed by the feast of Pentecost – when the spirit came down upon the followers of Jesus.

Other Easter traditions can be explained by the idea of the resurrection. The Easter rabbit, for example, is a sign of the resurrection, because rabbits aren’t seen during the cold periods of the year and appear to be dead. Then they return in spring, as though they came back to life. Similarly, Easter eggs were a symbol of life in ancient Egypt and Greece. They are still used today to signify the new life that comes through Jesus Christ. The eggs were covered in red to signify the blood of Christ. During the Middle Ages people fasted on eggs before Easter. Since the chicken didn’t stop laying eggs even when people didn’t eat them, there was an excess of eggs, which was then used up during the festive period. To distinguish the old eggs from the fresh ones, the old eggs used to be colored. This tradition is still practiced today.

Easter at Thomas Morus Heim
If you want to experience these traditions and joy of Easter, join this year’s Easter celebration at our dorm! We will celebrate all the different Easter appointments (there are different dates for Easter in different traditions) during one of our Thursday night dinners (11.04), where we will search for Easter nests, have tons of sweets, paint rabbit figures and eggs and play the egg-cracking-game.

I hope you had a great Easter vacation and back on track with new strength to finish the semester!
I wish you all Happy Easter! And I would like to end this blog with the typical Easter greeting, which is used in different languages around the globe:

Christ is risen! Indeed, he is risen, Hallelujah!