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PostSubject: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:43 pm

Ash Wednesday

marks the onset of the Lent, the 40-day period of fasting and abstinence. It is also known as the 'Day of Ashes'. So called because on that day at church the faithful have their foreheads marked with ashes in the shape of a cross.

The name 'Day of Ashes' comes from "Dies Cinerum" in the Roman Missal and is found in the earliest existing copies of the Gregorian Sacramentary. The concept originated by the Roman Catholics
somewhere in the 6th century. Though the exact origin of the day is not clear, the custom of marking the head with ashes on this Day is said to have originated during the papacy of Gregory the Great (590-604).

In the Old Testament
ashes were found to have used for two purposes: as a sign of humility
and mortality; and as a sign of sorrow and repentance for sin. The Christian connotation for ashes in the liturgy of Ash Wednesday has also been taken from this Old Testament biblical custom./
Receiving ashes on the head as a reminder of mortality and a sign of sorrow for sin was a practice of the Anglo-Saxon church in the 10th century. It was made universal throughout the Western church at the Synod of Benevento in 1091.

Originally the use of ashes to betoken penance was a matter of private devotion. Later it became part of the official rite for reconciling public penitents. In this context, ashes on the penitent served as a motive for fellow Christians to pray for the returning sinner and to feel sympathy for him. Still later, the use of ashes passed into its present rite of beginning the penitential season of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

There can be no doubt that the custom of distributing the ashes to all the faithful arose from a devotional imitation of the practice observed in the case of public penitents. But this devotional usage, the reception of a sacramental which is full of the symbolism of penance (cf. the cor contritum quasi cinis of the "Dies Irae") is of earlier date than was formerly supposed. It is mentioned as of general observance for both clerics and faithful in the Synod of Beneventum, 1091 (Mansi, XX, 739), but nearly a hundred years earlier than this the Anglo-Saxon homilist Ælfric assumes that it applies to all classes of men.

Putting a 'cross' mark on the forehead was in imitation of the spiritual mark or seal that is put on a Christian in baptism. This is when the newly born Christian is delivered from slavery to sin and the devil, and made a slave of righteousness and Christ (Rom. 6:3-18).

This can also be held as an adoption of the way 'righteousness' are described in the book of Revelation, where we come to know about the servants of God.The reference to the sealing of the servants of God for their protection in Revelation is an allusion to a parallel passage in Ezekiel, where Ezekiel also sees a sealing of the servants of God for their protection:

"And the LORD said to him [one of the four cherubim], 'Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark [literally, "a tav"] upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.' And to the others he said in my hearing, 'Pass through the city after him, and smite; your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity; slay old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one upon whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.' So they began with the elders who were before the house." (Ezekiel 9:4-6)

Unfortunately, like most modern translations
, the one quoted above (the Revised Standard Version, which we have been quoting thus far), is not sufficiently literal. What it actually says is to place a tav on the foreheads of the righteous inhabitants of Jerusalem. Tav is one of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and in ancient script it looked like the Greek letter chi, which happens to be two crossed lines (like an "x") and which happens to be the first letter in the word "Christ" in Greek Christos). The Jewish rabbis commented on the connection between tav and chi and this is undoubtedly the mark Revelation has in mind when the servants of God are sealed in it.

The early Church Fathers seized on this tav-chi-cross-christos connection and expounded it in their homilies, seeing in Ezekiel a prophetic foreshadowing of the sealing of Christians as servants of Christ. It is also part of the background to the Catholic
practice of making the sign of the cross, which in the early centuries (as can be documented from the second century on) was practiced by using one's thumb to furrow one's brow with a small sign of the cross, like Catholics do today at the reading of the Gospel during Mass.
Traditionally, the ashes for the Ash Wednesday service come from burning the palm fronds from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebration. They are made by burning palm fronds which have been saved from the previous year's Palm Sunday, the Sunday before the Easter. They are then blessed by a priest.

Ashes are a biblical symbol of mourning and penance. In Bible times the custom was to fast, wear sackcloth, sit in dust and ashes, and put dust and ashes on one's head.Blessed ashes having been used in God's rituals since the time of Moses (Numbers 19:9-10, 17).

They also symbolize death and so remind us of our mortality. Thus when the priest uses his thumb to sign one of the faithful with the ashes, he says, "Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return,"

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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:44 pm

Easter Eve

The day following Good Friday is the Holy Saturday. This is usually called Easter Eve in Anglican churches, and is held as a traditional time for baptism services.
Presently, this day is primarily a Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, as well as Anglican observance. Roman Catholic churches observe this with the blessing and lighting of a tall Paschal candle. The candle is placed on the altar on the Holy Saturday. While blessing, five grains of incense are fixed in it, representing the five wounds of Jesus and the burial spices with which his body was anointed. The candle is lit and remains on the Gospel side of the altar until Ascension Day. This day comes at the end of forty days which mark the period through which Christ showed up himself of and on following the crucifixion. On Ascension Day Christ is believed to have ascended to the heaven
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:45 pm

Easter Sunday

is the day of the feast. This day, the third since crucifixion, the Christ is believed to have shown up himself. And not just that, Jesus also joined his disciples on a meal! Easter comes at the end of the six days of the Holy Week which came to be associated with the life of Jesus before the Resurrection. This is when Christ is believed to show himself up after his death through crucifixion. He had risen up from his tomb that was guarded by the sentries. And met his disciples to get them prepared to carry out his works in his absence.
For more, read the story of Resurrection.
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:46 pm

Easter History

Easter, the principal festival of the Christian church year, celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his Crucifixion. The origins of Easter date to the beginnings of Christianity, and it is probably the oldest Christian observance after the Sabbath (originally observed on Saturday, later on Sunday). Later, the Sabbath subsequently came to be regarded as the weekly celebration of the Resurrection.

Meanwhile, many of the cultural historians find, in the celebration of Easter, a convergence of the three traditions - Pagan, Hebrew and Christian.

According to St. Bede, an English historian of the early 8th century, Easter owes its origin to the old Teutonic mythology. It was derived from the name Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, to whom the month of April was dedicated. The festival of Eostre was celebrated at the vernal equinox, when the day and night gets an equal share of the day.

The English name "Easter" is much newer. When the early English Christians wanted others to accept Christianity, they decided to use the name Easter for this holiday so that it would match the name of the old spring celebration. This made it more comfortable for other people to accept Christianity.

But it is pointed out by some that the Easter festival, as celebrated today, is related with the Hebrew tradition, the Jewish Passover. This is being celebrated during Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew lunar year. The Jewish Passover under Moses commemorates Israel's deliverance from about 300 years of bondage in Egypt.

It was in during this Passover in 30 AD Christ was crucified under the order of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate as the then Jewish high priests accused Jesus of "blasphemy". The resurrection came three days later, on the Easter Sunday. The early Christians, many of them being brought up in Jewish tradition regarded Easter as a new feature of the Pascha (Passover). It was observed in memory of the advent of the Messiah, as foretold by the prophets. And it is equanimous with the proclamation of the resurrection. Thus the early Christian Passover turned out to be a unitive celebration in memory of the passion-death-resurrection of Jesus. However, by the 4th century, Good Friday came to be observed as a separate occasion. And the Pascha Sunday had been devoted exclusively to the honor of the glorious resurrection.

Throughout the Christendom the Sunday of Pascha had become a holiday to honor Christ. At the same time many of the pagan spring rites came to be a part of its celebration. May be it was the increasing number of new converts who could not totally break free of the influence of pagan culture of their forefathers.

But despite all the influence there was an important shift in the spirit. No more glorification of the physical return of the Sun God. Instead the emphasis was shifted to the Sun of Righteousness who had won banishing the horrors of death for ever.

The Feast of Easter was well established by the second century. But there had been dispute over the exact date of the Easter observance between the Eastern and Western Churches. The East wanted to have it on a weekday because early Christians observed Passover every year on the 14th of Nisan, the month based on the lunar calendar. But, the West wanted that Easter should always be a Sunday regardless of the date.

To solve this problem the emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea in 325. The question of the date of Easter was one of its main concerns. The council decided that Easter should fall on Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. But fixing up the date of the Equinox was still a problem. The Alexandrians, noted for their rich knowledge in astronomical calculations were given the task. And March 21 was made out to be the perfect date for spring equinox.

The dating of Easter today follows the same. Accordingly, churches in the West observe it on the first day of the full moon that occurs on or following the Spring equinox on March 21., it became a movable feast between March 21 and April 25.

Still some churches in the East observe Easter according to the date of the Passover festival.
The preparation takes off as early as on the Ash Wednesday from which the period of penitence in the Lent begins. The Lent and the Holy week end on the Easter Sunday, the day of resurrection.
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:47 pm

Easter in the US

Easter did not enjoy the status of a popular festival among the early settlers in America. Because most of them were Puritans or members of Protestant Churches who had little use for the ceremonies of any religious festivals. Even the Puritans in Massachusetts tried their best to play down the celebration of Easter as far as possible. While various rites are said to be associated with the celebration of Easter, most of them have come as part of the ancient spring rites in the Northern hemisphere.


Not until the period of the Civil War did the message and meaning of Easter begin to be expressed as it had been in Europe. It was the initiative of the Presbyterians. The scars of death and destruction which led people back to the Easter season. They found the story of resurrection as a great source of inspiration and renewed hope.

Since then, of course, its joyous customs delight children and adults alike.
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:48 pm

Fasting

Today the word ‘fasting’ means a total abstention from all food. In the historic Church, it means a disciplined diet so that your animal appetites become a sort of spiritual snooze alarm. Although no such period of fasting was ascribed in the Bible, fasting and penitence came to be associated with Lent following the way Jesus did. The Lenten tradition of fasting commemorates the forty-day fast of Jesus in the desert after his baptism and before the beginning of his public ministry.

Today in the United States, Roman Catholics in the age groups of 21 to 59 are required to fast and abstain only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Abstinence from meat is recommended for the other Fridays of Lent. Voluntary fasts and abstinences are encouraged for the entire season.

Earlier, in Catholic Europe, fasting was decreed first by church laws. England enforced it also by its statute law. Meat, eggs and milk were forbidden and any lapse into gluttony could be severely punished.James II issued a proclamation in the London Gazette a year before the Bloodless Revolution of 1688 urging that the people abstain from meat. However, by giving alms to the poor, a license permitting the eating of meat could be acquired in St. Paul's Churchyard. In the days of stricter abstinence the money saved through fasting was to be donated to the poor.

The practice, however, fell into abeyance later. Being out of the purview of the Bible the devotion to Lenten food laws waned, especially by the time of the Puritans. Finally, in 1863 England repealed the food laws. And gradually the practice came to be reduced to only two days. The first day and the final day.

While the Lenten tradition of fasting has its religious connotation, the practice could also be regarded to be backed by some hygienic prudence. A light eating practice between two session of heavy feast is always helpful to tone up the digestive system. So instead of continuing with the usual practice of gluttony or overindulgence in the food habit, a controlled dieting of low animal protein could always be helpful at least as a preparation for the great feasting session of Easter


contributed by http://theholidayspot.com/ash_wednesday/fasting.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:49 pm

Good Friday

The Friday of the week is the Good Friday. This is the day on which Jesus was crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem, at the top of the Calvary hill. And the Christian belief says that Jesus sacrificed himself for the men's sins, to be died crucified.

This day is marked by solemn observations in memory of Jesus' crucifixion.For, Christians believe that by dying Jesus accomplished a reconciliation between God and man. And accordingly the crucified image of Jesus or, the Cross itself, came to be regarded as the main symbol of faith for the Christians.

Roman Catholics observe the day usually through fast and abstinence to commemorate the pains and sufferings Jesus underwent on the cross. It is since the 4th century that Good Friday came to be observed as a separate occasion. Before this, an annual celebration was held as Christian Passover, or, Pascha, to mark both Christ's death on Cross and the Resurrection
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:50 pm

Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday

Monday of the Holy Week is not a major feast. The cleansing of the temple in the Holy City of Jerusalem is thought to have taken place on this Monday. This was when Jesus overturned the tables of the moneychangers, saying to them: " It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer'; But you make it a den of robbers". [Matthew: 21:13]
The Tuesday of the Holy Week is the day when the famous incident between Jesus and Pharisees is thought to have taken place. This was when the churchmen tried to trap Jesus into making a blasphemous, or, anti-god remark.
This day is important also on another count. Jesus discoursed to his disciples on the Mount of Olives about the destruction of Jerusalem and the signs of the last day.

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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:51 pm

History of Easter Parades

After their baptisms, early Christians wore white robes all through Easter week to indicate their new lives. Those had already been baptized wore new clothes instead to symbolize their sharing a new life with Christ

In Medieval Europe, churchgoers would take a walk after Easter Mass led by a crucifix or the Easter candle. Today these walks endure as Easter Parades. People show off their spring finery, including lovely bonnets decorated for spring.
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:52 pm

History of Easter Cards

Easter Cards arrived in Victorian England, when a stationer added a greeting to a drawing of a rabbit. According to American Greetings, Easter is the 4th largest holiday for sending cards
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:01 pm

How Easter is Celebrated:

In Africa
Easter is celebrated as a main function of the Christian communities. In the Easter Vigil hundreds of people assemble in the church building.

In most parish churches the Easter Vigil is anticipated, because there are no lights, usually beginning at 3pm and finishing at dark, around 6pm.

The church is decorated by Vitenge and Kanga, clothes made up in the form of butterflies, flowers, banana trees etc.

Christian hymns are accompanied by the beating of drums and Kigelegele, the high-pitched sounds made by women.

After the Mass, traditional dances are held outside of the church. Then people return home to continue their celebrations with local food and drinks.

In some parishes the people remain around the church after Mass and sit in their small Christian communities to continue the celebration of eating and drinking, as ceremonial dances and entertainments continue around them.

In Africa, Easter has a social dimension as well as a spiritual one. At Easter families come together. They share special food with Christians and non-Christians indulging in boiled or roasted rice with meat or chicken.

Meat being very scarce and expensive in Africa, the laws of abstinence (not eating meat) does not hold good.

Australia
is a wonderful country with people from different parts of the world. So, Easter is celebrated in a variety of ways.

The main day of celebration of families of Anglo-Irish backgrounds is Easter Sunday. Some people go to church services and have hot cross buns for breakfast. These are a sweet fruit bun, which may have a cross on top. Children exchange Easter eggs, which are usually made of chocolate. Some are now made from sugar and have little toys inside. The chocolate eggs are available in an egg shape, from tiny little ones to giant ones. Some chocolate eggs are also in the shape of cheeky looking rabbits.

In recent years Easter bilbies have also been made. The bilby is a native animal in Australia. It is an endangered species. Chocolate manufacturers decided to make Easter bilbies and give some of their profits to help protect these animals from extinction. Children don’t worry about the shape. They just love the chocolate!

Many families arrange for an Easter hunt in their homes or gardens to see who can find the most eggs on Easter Sunday morning. They then share a meal with their relatives. Traditionally this has consisted of roast lamb, beef or chicken with roasted vegetables like potatoes, carrots, pumpkin



England
Easter is celebrated by exchange of Easter Eggs and other nifty gifts. Gift range may vary from anything between money, clothes, chocolate or go on holidays together. Some people make Easter bonnets or baskets, which have things like daffodils in them or
mini eggs. Children sometimes go to a local community center to enter an Easter bonnet competition to see whose bonnet is the best and the winner gets an Easter egg.

The Easter bunny is very much a part of the Easter tradition in England. The shops are filled with thousands which people buy to give to each other. The Easter bunny ‘hides’ the eggs in the houses and children on Easter Sunday search to find these treats.

Hot–cross buns are popular foods on Good Friday. These are sweet fruit buns with crosses on top. Some people still make these with yeast, but shops now sell dozens in the week before Easter.


France
The French call it Paques.
The main celebration sets off on Good Friday with a solemn note. Church bells do not ring for three days starting from Good Friday till the Easter Sunday. This is a token of mourning for the crucified Christ.
Early on Easter morning the children rush into the garden to watch the bells "Fly back from Rome". As the small folk scan the sky for a glimpse of the returning bells their elders hide chocolate eggs


Germany
The German call it Ostern, possibly by the name of the Anglo Saxon goddess of spring, Eostre. School children have about three weeks holiday at Easter. No one works on Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday. Many people eat fish on Good Friday and on Easter Saturday evening there is often a big Easter bonfire. This is very popular and lots of people gather to watch. These Easter fires are burnt as symbols of the end of the winter and any bad feelings.

On Easter Sunday families have nice breakfasts together. Parents then hide Easter baskets with sweets, eggs and small presents. Hand-painted eggs decorated with traditional designs are exchanged among friends. Earlier, it was customary in many regions for the village girls to present their suitors with a red egg.Many eat fish on Good Friday
Germans gave Green eggs on Holy Thursday, and hung hollow eggs on trees

Italians
call it La Pasqua.
The Easter is celebrated with a real big feast in this Mediterranean country. The Paschal feast is celebrated with Agnellino, Italy's special popular dish for the Easter. This is a roasted baby lamb. Children enjoy a rich bread made specially for the Easter. It is shaped like a crown and studded with colored Easter egg candies.




In Norway
reading detective novels and crime thrillers has become a popular Easter pastime. Paaskekrim (Easter Crime) refers to the new crime novels available at Easter. The period from Holy Thursday through East Monday is a public holiday, and many Norwegians take vacations to the mountains, or to the coast at this time. According to folklore professors at the Institute for Cultural Studies at the University of Oslo, the tradition of reading about crime at Easter may stem from the violent nature of Christ's death

Netherlands
The Dutch call it Pasen or Pasen Zondag.
Throughout the country Easter is celebrated as a great spring holiday. People lay tables for Easter dinner with charming decoration of colored eggs and early flowers. Sweet bread stuffed with raisins and currant, is one of the favorite dishes of the Easter feast.



Sweden
The Swedish call it Påskdagen.
Throughout the country the egg, symbol of life and resurrection, is featured in all Easter food and Easter games. Every household has egg coloring parties. Egg rolling contests are the favorite Easter activity of younger boys and girls.
Palm Sunday is observed with palm fronds. The Easter Eve is celebrated with bonfires. Shooting of fireworks lives on as the tradition


Mexico
Easter celebration in Mexico is held as a combination of two separate big observances - Semana Santa and Pascua. The former means the whole of the Holy Week - Palm Sunday to Easter Saturday. And the Pascua is the observance for the period from the Resurrection Sunday to the following Saturday.

For most Mexicans, this two-week period is the time for a great vacation. People enjoy this time with the community of their choice.

Semana Santa celebrates the last days of the Christ's life. Pascua is the celebration of the Christ's Resurrection. It is also the release from the sacrifices of Lent.

In many communities, the full Passion Play is enacted from the Last Supper, the Betrayal, the Judgement, the Procession of the 12 Stations of the Cross, the Crucifixion and, finally, the Resurrection. In some communities, real crucifixion is included. The enactments are often nicely staged, costumed and acted, with participants preparing for their roles for nearly the full year leading up to Semana Santa.


Armenia
Hollow Eggs created by piercing the shell with a needle and blowing out the contents were decorated with pictures of Christ and Virgin Mary and other religious figures







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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:02 pm

Lent

is a forty day period of penance meant for sharing the sorrows and sufferings of Christ by the self-denying Christians. Originally Lent was meant for a period of complete fasting to commemorate the forty-day fast of Jesus. Jesus spent these days in the desert after his baptism and till the beginning of his public ministry. In the early church, this fasting period was meant for a preparation to receive the sacrament to be given to those who would be baptized on the Easter eve.

In course of time, the emphasis of the season turned from preparing for baptism to more penitential aspects. Even persons guilty of notorious sins spent the time performing public penances. Only at the end of the Lent were they publicly accepted back in an elaborate ceremony. The penitents were presented to the bishop singly. And then in a group they protested themselves while seven penitential psalms were sung
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:03 pm

Why is Lent 40 Days Long

Lent was derived from the Anglo-Saxon word Lencten, meaning spring. In France the season is called Careme, and in Italy it is Quarestima, both derived from the Latin Quadragesima.

Lent in the Western Churches was originally a period of forty days of fasting and penitence, readying the Christian soul for the great feast on the ensuing Easter Sunday
.This is held as a period of sober reflection, self-examination, and spiritual redirection.

The Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and goes for forty days excluding the Sundays. Because Sundays are always the joyful celebration of the Resurrection. It ends on the Good Friday. However, Lent
is a forty two day period in Eastern Churches and begins on the Monday preceding the Easter by forty two days . This makes it clear that they don't have Ash Wednesday. With the Easter being a movable feast, Lent begins in different years on different days in either February or March.

Certainly the number forty has long had a symbolic importance in religion. Moses and Elias spent forty days in the wilderness; the Jews wandered forty years searching for the Promised land
; Jonah gave the city of Nineveh forty days' grace in which to repent.
And Jesus retreated into the wilderness and fasted for forty days to prepare for his ministry. It was for Him a time of contemplation, reflection, and preparation. So by observing Lent, most Christians join Jesus on His retreat.

The Lenten period of forty days owes its origin to the Latin word Quadragesima, originally signifying forty hours. This referred to forty hours of complete fasting which preceded the Easter celebration
in the early Church. The main ceremony was the baptizing of the initiates on Easter Eve, and the fast was a preparation to receive this sacrament. Later, the period from Good Friday until Easter Day was extended to six days, to correspond with the six weeks of training, necessary to instruct the converts who were to be baptized.

A strict schedule was adhered to in the teaching of the converts. In Jerusalem near the end of the fourth century, classes were held throughout seven weeks of Lent for three hours each day.
With the acceptance of Christianity as the state religion of Rome in the 4th century, its character was endangered by the great influx of new members. To combat the hazard, the Lenten fast and practices of self renunciation were required of all Christians. The less zealous of the converts were thus brought more securely into the Christian fold.

Sometimes before the year 330 the duration of Lent had been fixed at forty days in Egypt, to correspond to Christ's forty days in the desert. It was evident quite early that a six-week Lent contained only thirty-six days - since Sunday is never a fast day. Gradually four more days were added to the beginning of Lent became Known as Ash Wednesday. The first evidence of this increase is in the Gelasian Sacramentary of the early eighth century.

In time the emphasis of the season turned from preparation for baptism to more penitential aspects of penance. The sorrows and sufferings of Christ were shared by the self-denying Christian. Persons guilty of notorious sins spent the time performing public penances. Only at the end of Lent were they publicly reconciled with the Church. During the Middle Ages the sinners were accepted back in an elaborate ceremony.

Then penance came to be associated during this period for common people as well. And Lent became the way of penance. It is good for us to undertake acts of penance in sorrow for our sins, our failure to acknowledge and to love God in Himself, in others, in ourselves. The traditional forms of penance, fast and abstinence, are to be observed according to Church law. The habit of more personal forms of penance is certainly to be encouraged. Not only is penance appropriate as an expression of sorrow for sin, but it also helps us to be less attached to the things of this world. Penance helps us to put things in proper perspective.
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:04 pm

Palm Sunday

The last Sunday of the Lent is known as the Palm Sunday. This is when Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem where he was greeted warmly by the crowd. In the words of St Matthew:
Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" And this is where the basis of the Palm Sunday procession lies.

The first reference to the Palm Sunday procession, is found in the travel journal of Etheria, the nun from the northwest Spain. She made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century. She referred the day to be the beginning of the Paschal Week.

In the Western Church the procession is reportedly adopted first in Spain, possibly in the fifth century. And it had not been before the twelfth century when the procession was held in Rome. In the United States, the Messiah Lutheran church in Philadelphia revived an old Palm Sunday custom. There an ass is led down the center aisle accompanied by the pastor and two costumed members of the congregation. Meanwhile the entire church body sings, "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name." In Episcopal churches, parishioners are given palm leaves at the end of the service.Presently the day is meant for a nice get together of all churches: Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and Lutheran.
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:05 pm

Spy Wednesday

On the Wednesday the tempo of the Holy Week increases. This is the day widely known as "Spy Wednesday". For it is the day when Judas Iscariot, a disciple turned betrayer agreed to show the chief priests where they could easily capture Jesus.

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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:06 pm

Maundy Thursday

The Thursday of the Holy Week is associated with the Last Supper. The day is known as Maundy Thursday, or, Holy Thursday. It is the day before crucifixion. On this day Jesus had his supper, his last course, with his disciples. In the words of St Matthew:
...Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it , and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying," Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:06 pm

The Story of Passover

In the days before passover, the house is prepared. All traces of bread, or anything using yeast, is eaten or removed from the house, and all of the dishes, silverware, pots and pans are changed for a set that is used only for passover.
The day before passover, the house is searched for any trace of yeast products, (chumetz) and the whole family is involved in the search. Anything found is discarded, or given away to non-jewish people.

History of Passover relates back to over 3,000 years ago, when the Jews were held as slaves by the Egyptian Pharaoh, Rameses II. Moses, who looked after the cause of the Jews, asked Pharaoh several times to release them from slavery, and warned Him that he would devastate his people by plagues. Moses inflicted 10 plagues, and after all the 9 plagues, the Pharaoh agreed to release the Jews from slavery, but quickly changed his mind. (You can read about the 10 plagues by clicking here.) After the 10th plague however, he let the Jews go. The Jews left in a hurry, owing to the fickle-mindness of the Pharaoh, and could thus only take unleavened bread with them, called Matza, which is a part of celebration even today. As expected, the Pharaoh send his army after the Jews so that they could be brought back. The jews travelled for 40 days and nights, and reached Red Sea, where they saw the emperor's army advancing towards them. In despair they asked for help from Moses, who parted the waters of Red Sea for the Jews to cross. As soon as the Jews crossed, the Red Sea regained and drowned the soldiers.
Since the time of Jewish freedom from Egyptian slavery, Jews have celebrated this historical event by having a feast called the 'Seder'. The word 'Seder' means 'order' and refers to the order of historical events recalled in the Passover meal as well as the meal itself. The Story of Passover is read from a book called the 'Haggadah'. While the main story of Passover is read by Jews the world over, local customs and traditions have changed over time, so that the festival has been adapted to reflect the life and routine of individual communities. This is why the festival of Passover is celebrated differently in Tunisia than in Canada.
Passover is celebrated for 8 days (7 for Reform Jews), and always begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:07 pm

The 10 Plagues of Passover

Moses asked the Pharoah to release the Jewish people from slavery, Pharoah refused. In return, God sent plagues into Egypt. It was the last, and most fierce plague, the slaying of the first born, that finally made the Pharoah capitulate, and allow the Jewish people to leave Egypt.

The Jews were spared from the last plague by spreading lamb's blood on their front doors, thereby identifying the house as a Jewish
house, and the plague "PASSED OVER" the houses of the Jewish slaves. The ten plagues are listed below:-



  1. Blood
  2. Frogs
  3. Vermin
  4. Beasts
  5. Cattle Disease
  6. Boils
  7. Hail
  8. Locusts
  9. Darkness
  10. Slaying of First Born
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:09 pm

The Legend of the Easter Lily

the lovely white trumpet lily has been enjoying a great favor in being included as a principal item for church decoration for quite some time. A perfect gift of nature to beautify our Easter.


But its acceptance in America, as such, dates back around the 1800s. It came in with the rise in the Easter observances by the Protestants in America. And, strange, it took some more time to find a widespread acceptance. For, the early Americans those days were not used to seeing a lily waiting to be picked up for the Easter decor. The native American lilies, for example, the garden or, Madonna lily, bloom in the early summer. Though it could be forced to bloom earlier using the hothouse conditions, the hassles associated did not allow it to be accepted widely.And custom did not find a widespread growth until a lily was imported.


In the 1880s, while in Bermuda, Ms Thomas P Sargent became familiar with a beautiful lily that blooms naturally in springtime. She just fell for this lovely white 'Bermuda' lily. She brought its bulbs in back home in Philadelphia. There, a nursery man, called William Harris, fostered its popularity among other florists.
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:09 pm

The Legend of the Rabbit

The bountiful Easter bunnies have become the most favorite Easter symbol. It's universal and secular in its appeal. And, most important of all, it relates to Easter historically.

However, one fact has got to be made clear. It is the hare, and not the rabbit, that should be treated as the true symbol of Easter. Though both of them (along with Pikas), belong to the 'Lagomorpha' family and have most of things in common, there are some differences.


If you go by the history, since the ancient times the hare has been a symbol for the moon. Not the rabbit. And the legend says, the hare never closes its eyes, not even for a single blink!

The reason for having such a belief may be rooted in the fact that hares, not rabbits, are born with eyes open. Rabbits are born blind.

The ancient Egyptians related hares to the moon. Egyptian name for hare was 'un', meaning 'open'. And they were beloved to be watching the full moon opened eyes throughout the night.

Also the hare and eggs have to the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre. Possibly, this is because both of them were regarded to be emblems of fertility.


And this fertility factor may hold the key in making rabbit more familiar as Easter symbol in America, as against the traditional hare. Rabbits beat hares by being more prolific. The German immigrants, who brought in most of the Teutonic Easter traditions here, made rabbits so popular among the non-German kids. The German children used to have rabbit's nests filled with decorated eggs. They also used to build nests. They looked so attractive that even the non-German kids demanded such gifts on the Easter.
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:10 pm

"Here Comes Peter Cottontail
Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin down the bunny trail,
Hippity hoppity,
Easter's on its way
Bringing every boy and girl
A basketful of Easter joy
Things to make your Easter
Bright and gay
He's got jelly beans for Tommy
Colored eggs for sister Sue
There's and orchid for your mommy
And an Easter bonnet too. Oh!
Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin down the bunny trail
Hippity hoppity
Happy Easter Day
Look at him hop and listen to him say,
"Try to do the things you should"
Maybe if you're extra good
He'll roll lots of Easter eggs your way
You'll wake up on Easter morning
And you'll know that he was there
When you find those chocolate bunnies
That he's hiding everywhere. Oh!
Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin down the bunny trail
Hippity hoppity
Happy Easter Day.

http://www.legenddesignz.com
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:12 pm

The Easter Bunny

The Easter bunny has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the Spring season.

The bunny as an Easter symbol seems to have it's origins in Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings in the 1500s. The first edible Easter bunnies were made in Germany during the early 1800s. And were made of pastry and sugar


The Easter bunny was introduced to American folklore by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. The arrival of the "Oschter Haws" was considered "childhood's greatest pleasure" next to a visit from Christ-Kindel on Christmas Eve. The children believed that if they were good the "Oschter Haws" would lay a nest of colored eggs.


The children would build their nest in a secluded place in the home, the barn or the garden. Boys would use their caps and girls their bonnets to make the nests . The use of elaborate Easter baskets would come later as the tradition of the Easter bunny spread through out the country.
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:15 pm

History Of The
White House Easter
Egg Roll

The Original site of the Easter Egg Roll was the grounds of the United States Capitol. The Event began during the Presidency of James Madison (1809-1817) at the suggestion of his wife, Dolley Madison. Mrs Madison was fascinated to learn that Egyptian children rolled colored eggs on the site of the Pyramids. She thought the children of the Washington area would enjoy this Enchanting activity.
In 1877, under orders from members of Congress, Capitol policemen required the children to leave the grounds. Some Congressmen, tired of slipping and sliding on the remains of boiled eggs, felt the grounds should no longer be torn up in such a way. Some sources tell us that one irritated nursemaid, followed by several of her charges, stormed down to the White House where she demanded access to the White House grounds for egg rolling. Others claim that President Rutherford B. Hayes, riding by the Capitol grounds in his carriage, saw the tearful children and invited them to the White House for their Egg Roll.

In 1878 President Hayes and his wife Lucy officially opened the White House grounds to the children of the area for Egg Rolling on Easter Monday. The event has been held on the South Lawn ever since, except during World War I and World War II. During the war years the Easter Egg Roll was held at the National Zoo, and other Washington locations.
The White House Easter Egg Roll is eagerly awaited each year by thousands of children. It is always held on the Monday after Easter, on the South Lawn of the White House. Children hunt for brightly colored wooden signature eggs hidden in hay. Many of these eggs have been signed by famous people, including the athletes, astronauts, musicians, and celebrities from film, television, and theatre who visit the White House during the year. Of course, the real Treasures are the Eggs personally signed by the President and First Lady (as well as Socks).
By the late 1800's such games as "Egg Picking," "Egg Ball," "Toss and Catch," and "Egg Croquet" were popular Easter Monday activities. The Children attending the event take part in many newer activities, but rolling a hard-boiled egg across the lawn is still the highlight of the day.


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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:17 pm

The Easter Egg
Of all the associated with Easter the EGG, the symbol [/size]
of fertility and new Life, is the most identifiable. The customs and traditions
of using eggs have been associated with Easter for Centuries Originally Easter Eggs were
painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of
spring and were used in Easter-egg rolling contests

or given as gifts. After they were colored
and etched with various designs the eggs were
exchanged by Lovers and Romantic admirers, much
the same as Valentines
In medieval time eggs were traditionally given at Easter
to the servants. In Germany eggs were given
to children along with
other Easter gifts. Different cultures have
developed their own ways of decorating Easter Eggs.

Crimson eggs, to honor the
blood of Christ, are exchanged in Greece.
In parts of Germany and Austria green eggs are used
on Maundy Thursday
(Holy Thursday).
Slavic peoples decorate their eggs in special
patterns of Gold & Silver. Austrian artists design
patterns by fastening ferns and tiny plants around the eggs, which are then boiled.
the plants are then removed
revealing a striking white pattern. The Poles and Ukrainians decorate eggs
with simple designs and colors.
A number of eggs are made in the distinctive manner called PYSANKI
(to design, to write).
PYSANKI eggs are a masterpiece of skill and
workmanship. Melted beeswax is applied to the
fresh white egg. It is then dipped in successive baths of dye. After each dip wax
is painted over the area where the preceding color is to remain. Eventually a complex
pattern of lines and colors
emerges into a work of art.
[b]In Germany and other countries eggs used for cooking where not broken,
but the contents were removed by piercing the
end of each egg with a needle and blowing the
contents into a bowl.

The hollow eggs were dyed and hung from shrubs and [/size]trees during the Easter week

The Armenians would decorate hollow eggs with pictures of Christ, the
Virgin Mary, and other Religious designs.

Eggs and Easter have almost become synonymous.
But what is so special in an egg?

It is the influence of the traditional spring rites that made Easter so egg-special. And myths coming down to us from an incredibly distant past have shown man's relationship with the egg to be very deep seated one. This is caught in old Latin proverb: Omne vivum ex ovo. This means "all life comes from an egg". Not just the Latin saying, eggs are just laid well over all corners of the world. From ancient India
to Polynesia, from Iran, Greece, and Phonecia to Latvia, Estonia, and Finland, from Central America to the west coast of South America, there are reports of myths of the whole universe created out of an egg. Thus, it is not unusual that in almost all ancient cultures eggs had been held as an emblem of life.

In Europe an egg was hung on New Year trees, on Maypoles, and on St. John's trees
in midsummer. Indeed, all meant egg as a symbol of the regenerative forces of nature. Later during the Christian period, it was believed that eggs laid on Good Friday, if kept for a hundred years, would have their yolks turn to diamond. If Good Friday eggs were cooked on Easter they would promote the fertility of the trees and crops and protect against sudden deaths. And, if you would find two yolks in an Easter egg, be sure, you're going to be rich soon. That's
what they believed!

Eggs were said to be dyed and eaten at the spring festivals in ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece, and Rome. The Persians of that time gave eggs as gifts at the vernal equinox. But it is not very clear how those colored eggs have come in to dominate the Easter basket. In fact, they have become so popular with the Easter celebration, that they even started to dominate the ancient concepts of the symbolism of eggs. It is speculated that it was introduced in Europe, or, rather Western Europe, during the course of the fifteenth century. This was when missionaries or knights of the Crusades are thought to have brought in the concept of the coloring of eggs westwards.

In medieval times there was a superstition: the church bells which had not been heard since Holy Thursday had been to Rome for the Pope's blessings and returned on Easter Eve with colored eggs for everyone. Many of the eggs were dyed red. Red was in memory joyous Easter celebration. Or it was to honor the blood that Christ shed. During the strict Lenten fast of forty days no eggs were eaten.


To read more this was contributed by http://theholidayspot.com/easter/history/icons/easter_egg.htm
[/size]
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PostSubject: Re: Easter History   Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:20 pm

Easter Eggs in Austria

Austrians placed tiny plants around the egg and then boiled them. When the plants where removed, white patterns were created
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