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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Happy Good Friday / Easter Weekend

Easter is the most important celebration within Christianity, amongst all the significant holidays within the Lenten period. Good Friday is the crescendo before Easter Sunday. On this day, we commemorate the suffering known in religious parlance of as the Passion of Christ as he died on the cross. Good Friday is also a day of prayer, fasting and repentance - this day may be known as Black Friday or Holy Friday too.

While Good Friday commemorates the sacrifice of Christ, Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of the Christian Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Photo source: http://acelebrationofwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/good_friday_wallpaper1.jpg 

(taken from http://www.holidays.net/easter/good_friday.htm

The early Christians, many of whom were of Jewish origin, were brought up in the Hebrew tradition and regarded Easter as a new feature of the Passover festival, a commemoration of the advent of the Messiah as foretold by the prophets.

Many Catholic churches begin their worship services at 3 p.m. on Good Friday, which is the time that Jesus is believed to have died. While customs vary by church and by country, many Catholics read or sing parts of St. John's Gospel, participate in the Veneration of the Cross, and receive communion. Good Friday is also considered a fast day in the Catholic Church, in which parishioners are only allowed to consume one meatless meal and two small snacks.

In Orthodox Churches, different traditions are observed. In Russia, for example, churches prominently display a silver coffin with a cross, surrounded by candles and flowers. Inside the coffin is a shroud painted with an image of Christ. Worshippers crawl on their knees toward the coffin and kiss the shroud.

The holiday is also celebrated, to varying degrees, within Protestant Churches. Episcopal, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran Churches often mark the day with special worship services.

Photo source: http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/21300000/HAPPY-EASTER-

Incorporating Pagan beliefs

(Taken from: http://www.holidays.net/easter/origins.htm)

Today, Easter is clearly a Christian holiday, with deep liturgical and traditional significance. However, scholars actually believe that the festival has its roots in a number of pre-Christian faiths, including Pagan and Jewish. For example, historians believe that the word Easter is derived from the Saxon name of the Pagan goddess of spring and fertility, Eastre. The lunar calendar month of April was dedicated to a celebration of Eastre, featuring rituals to mark the vernal equinox and welcome the fertility associated with springtime.

Many of these Pagan traditions have been incorporated into Christianity's celebration of Easter today. The Easter bunny and Easter eggs, for instance, are both Pagan symbols of fertility. Even the story of Jesus' resurrection is echoed in Pagan mythology. The Greek legend of Persephone, for example, tells of her return from the underworld. This myth was understood by ancient Greeks as a metaphor for the return of spring after the darkness of winter. The Phrygians similarly believed that their omnipotent deity hibernated during the winter solstice and was awoken in the spring by their musical festivals.

The traditions of Easter also have roots in the Jewish springtime holiday of Passover. The name Easter is reflected in the Hebrew word for Passover, or Pesach. In Europe, the word Pasch is synonymous with the name Easter.

Ending Note
However you plan to celebrate your long Easter weekend, have fun and have a good celebration and some R&R.

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