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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    Great and Holy Pascha Comment
    Gregory Morris, 3/24/08 10:43:56 am
    Oh, and as a follow-up to yesterday's post... a few Easter facts. This post was prompted by all the "happy easter" comments I've heard. The spirit is right, but the facts are wrong. There is no reason one cannot be joyous in spirit, as well as correct in word and belief. Quite frankly, all the chocolate bunnies and marshmallow critters in the world can't appropriately express the joy of Christ's resurrection.

    The Name
    First of all, "Easter" is a pagan term, while Pascha is the proper Christian term for the Feast of the Resurrection of Christ. The word Pascha is itself derived from the Greek word for "Passover". "Easter" is a derivation of the the name of a Germanic pagan goddess Eostre, for whom the month in which the Christian feast usually falls was named. It also can literally mean "from the east", which is a reference to pagan astrological worship and the spring equinox.

    Importance
    Pascha is and has always been the most important celebration in the church. Christmas has, until recent consumption-oriented years, been considered a minor holiday which some Christian sects didn't even celebrate.

    The Date
    The formulation for the date of Pascha was determined at the First Ecumenical Council (Also known as The First Council of Nicea.) That council also gave us the first draft of the Nicene Creed, in case you weren't paying attention. The Council determined that Pascha must fall after the Jewish Passover (keep in mind that early Christians were mostly converted Jews.) At the time, the Julian calendar was still in use, so the date of Pascha was always calculated based on that calendar. When the Roman Catholic church made the switch to the Gregorian calendar, they also changed their method of calculating the date of Pascha.

    The Egg
    The tradition of the easter eggs comes from a story about of Mary of Magdala, who spread the word of Jesus after His resurrection. While having an audience with the emperor, she picked up an egg to illustrate her point about rebirth/resurrection. The emperor replied, "There is as much chance of a human being returning to life as there is for the egg to turn red." The egg immediately and miraculously turned red, humbling Caesar. If you attend a Greek Orthodox Paschal service, you'll notice the eggs they dye are all Red. Easter eggs have nothing to do with bunnies or with fertility.

    The Fast
    Easter has traditionally (and I mean from the beginning of Christianity up until some time after the protestant reformation) been directly preceded by a period of fasting known as Great Lent. Only the eastern Orthodox church participates in this tradition. Lent begins 40 days before Pascha (in remembrance of Christ's 40 days in the desert), during which time Christians increase their prayer, abstain (fast) from eating meat and dairy products, and make more of an effort to give alms to the less fortunate. In more recent times, Lent has been reduced to maybe remembering Good Friday, and "giving up" bubblegum or something similarly ridiculous. Fasting has always been seen as a discipline which brings you joy as you focus your energies on prayer and meditation, rather than gluttony and worldly passions. It was never, ever, ever about "giving something up." On the contrary, it was always about gaining closeness to our Saviour, and preparing for the celebration of His resurrection.

    The Greeting
    "Happy Easter" has no meaning what-so-ever in the context of the Christian faith. Similarly, "to you too" doesn't mean much. These are a purely secular (or worse: pagan, see above) phrases, which is nonsensical considering that Pascha is the most holy day in the Christian liturgical calendar. The correct Paschal greeting is "Christ is Risen". The response "Truly, He is Risen" is an appropriate reply and affirmation of faith.

    Just so ya know.

    Update:
    Funny, I hadn't read this when I wrote this post. Regardless, consider this my rebuttal to Sebastian's irreverence.

    [Comments are closed after a month.]

    Re: Great and Holy Pascha
    Rustmeister, 3/25/08 10:02:11 am
    I lived in Greece for a couple years, and, being Orthodox, they really go all out for Easter. Roasting lambs in the front yard, etc. And, because theirs is celebrated later than ours, the weather's usually nice.
    Re: Great and Holy Pascha
    Gregory Morris, 3/25/08 10:07:24 am
    We American Greeks love roasting lamb as well. Last time we did it was for my brother's wedding, but we always used to have lamb for easter.

    Oh, and FYI, the Orthodox calendar doesn't ALWAYS place Pascha after "western Easter". Just usually. In fact, it is most often 1 or 5 weeks later, but sometimes they coincide exactly.
    < "Happy 5-More-Weeks-Until-Easter"
    "Why Do Gun Nuts Need So Much Firepower?" >


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