The Significance of Easter in the Christian Faith

Introduction

Easter is a Christian festival that celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection is believed to have occurred 3 days after his crucifixion.

The Easter festival occurs over an entire week, called Holy Week. Worship services include blessing of the palms and a procession. This year, Holy Week runs from 17 April 2011 - 23 April 2011. Holy Week includes Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion (the full name), is the first Sunday of Holy Week within the Lenten Season. It commemorates Jesus' victorious entry into Jerusalem. As he entered, the people of Jerusalem recognised Jesus as their King, saying "Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"

Traditionally in the Western Church, the Palm Sunday service begins with the "blessing of the palms." This is where the palms used in the procession are blessed. Palm Sunday is also called Fig Sunday, because figs were traditionally eaten on this day. Christ cursed a fig tree after his entry into Jerusalem as it did not have fruit upon it.

Spy Wednesday:

This is the historic name for the Wednesday of Holy Week.  It is a reference to Judas' agreement to betray Jesus (see Matthew 26:3-5, 14-16).

Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday):

The name "Maundy Thursday" is derived from the word "mandate" to love one another as Jesus loves us (see Gospel of John 13:34). This day is also significant to the Last Supper, the last meal Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles and disciples before his death. This is also the night that Jesus verbally identified his traitor, the one who was to betray him. He washes the feet of his disciples and instructs his disciples to do the same, an example of how you should treat others, with respect, love, and consideration.

Good Friday of the Lord's Passion:

The name "Good Friday" probably comes from "God's Friday," although the reason for this name is not clear. It is also believed that through his crucifixion on the Cross, Christ freed us from sin, a good deed which God bestowed upon mankind. The different churches observe Good Friday in their own ways. Various traditions and customs are related with the Western celebration of Good Friday. This day is traditionally a time for fasting and Abstinence, commemorating the anniversary of Christ's crucifixion and death. The Veneration of the Cross is common; Christians approach a wooden cross and honour it. In addition to these traditions, Holy Communion is practised with the retained congregation.

Holy Saturday:

This is the final day of both Holy Week and the Triduum. The word Triduum comes from the Latin word meaning "three days." It begins on the evening of Holy Thursday and ends at Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday. There are few specific customs associated with Holy Saturday, except that it is the final night before the Feast of the Resurrection.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday is the commemoration of the resurrection of Christ. It is believed by those of the Christian faith that on this day, Jesus rose from the tomb from which he was laid to rest. The Glorious Resurrection redeems Christians through the saving grace of Christ, which marks a new beginning in the life of all people who believe in Him, God made Man who was sent by his Father.  

Eggs are often used as symbols of Easter as they symbolise the new life given to Christian people by the death of Jesus, as he offered his life for their sins. The hollow egg also symbolises the empty tomb, and is a reminder of his Resurrection.

Many Christians spend this weekend in fasting, prayer, repentance, and meditation on the pain and suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross.

For more background information on the Christian Easter, go to:

Page Updated 21 April 2011