Easter- History, Meaning and Symbol Explained

Easter is one of the most important religious events in the world. Despite the numerous denominations and ideological groups, It is celebrated by Christians all over the world.

Seeing how important Easter is in Christendom, it’s important to consider the significance and history of this celebration.

Why do we celebrate Easter?

The center of the Christian religion is Jesus Christ.  The life, death, and resurrection of the Man named Jesus. Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ sacrifice. It, therefore, implies that Easter must relate to him in a very distinct manner.

Jesus saved the world by dying on the cross to take the judgment of sin that was on man. His death, burial, and resurrection secured every believer a place with God.

 Romans 8:34: Christ Jesus who died—more than that, which was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

Annually, Christians all over the world remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Note that while lots of people remember the sacrifice, very few people realize the hope that his resurrection and ascension brings. It is by these two things that we can be certain of His second coming.

Easter

So, why do we celebrate Easter?  We remember the love of God, the sacrifice of Jesus, our salvation, and the hope that soon we will see him again.

Why is Easter called Easter?

Although many people know why we celebrate Easter. However, most do not know why Easter is called Easter.

The celebration of Christ;s death and resurrection was called Easter because Jesus died  around the same time the pre-Christian goddess, Eostre, was celebrated. Hence, you could say that the name “Easter” evolved from the name of a non-christian deity. It is important to note that many Latin and Greek-speaking countries refer to Easter as Pascha – which denotes the Passover.

Should you be bothered about the origin of the name?

Many names evolve from different places. What truly matters is the celebration, the heart, and those who.

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Importance of Easter

The bible makes it clear that a man can be saved by the name of Jesus only. Jesus’ sacrifice many years ago was what paved way for a better life. This is proved by many verses, a prominent one being

John 1: 29 -the next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

For all believers Easter serves as a reminder of all that God as for us. These things are detailed in Ephesians 1 and they include;

  • Spiritual blessings in heavenly places
  • The forgiveness of sins
  • Justification
  • Placement in Christ in heavenly places
  • The indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Another importance of Easter is that it reminds believers of the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus. This is the period to strengthen your belief in the love of God. He gave his only son, what else shall he not give. One scripture that really shows God’s love and Easter is:

Romans 5: 8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Orthodox Easter

Interestingly, Easter is not celebrated by Christians all over the world at the same time. Some denominations choose to use different calendars. The orthodox for example follow the Julian calendar which differs from the Gregorian calendar.  The Gregorian calendar is used by most western countries and Christian denominations.

This means that Orthodox Easter often occurs at a later date, around the time of the March equinox. For example in 2020, Orthodox Easter fell on Sunday, April 19, 2020, one week after Easter from the Gregorian calendar which was April 12.

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Other than the difference in dates as a result of calendar differences, there is virtually nothing else that separates Orthodox Easter.

Easter Symbols

Certain symbols and icons are often attached to the holy festival. These Easter symbols are a mix of Christianity, Judaism and paganism. They are often used to beautify the altar of churches and homes on Easter. Sadly, most people who decorate their homes with these icons do not know the meaning.

  • The Cross: The most popular symbol associated with Easter is the cross. It symbolizes the life and sacrifice of Jesus. It is also a symbol of hope
  • Easter Eggs: These symbolize man’s rebirth. The egg represents the grave where Jesus broke forth from and rose again
  • Palm Branches: These symbolize the triumphant entry. Jesus Christ was celebrated with palm branches a week before his crucifixion. That practice holds till today.

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  • Easter Baskets: The symbol of Easter baskets originates from the catholic custom of bringing food to the mass for blessing. Traditionally, people bring basket of food, their Easter dinner to the church to be blessed. This custom is somewhat similar to the pagan ritual of taking the first harvest to the temple, when people still celebrated Eostre festival. They bring their harvest to be blessed and to thank the goddess for the fruitful season. Today, Easter baskets are no longer filled with Easter dinner or crops like in the old days, as the Easter baskets are filled with colorful eggs, toys and sweet treats for children.
  • Lilies: Lily is another Easter symbol often used for decoration. Lilies are highly favored against other flowers that blossoms in spring because its pure white color just right to symbolize Jesus purity and resurrection.
  • Easter Candles: Candles are Easter symbols that represent the lights of the world and the candles lighted in churches during Easter mass commemorate the rebirth of Jesus after three days. Take note, Jesus considered as the light of the world when he rose from the dead.
  • Butterfly: Butterfly is another important Easter symbol since the butterfly life cycle symbolize the life of Christ. The caterpillar, which is the first stage, stands for Christ life on earth. The cocoon stage portrays Christ death at the cross and burial, the third stage  -the butterfly stage – is the most important phase which connotes the rebirth. Christ resurrection from the dead.

Conclusion

We celebrate Easter as believers.  This season helps us remember God’s love and ultimate gift. However, we shouldn’t wait for Easter to remind ourselves of this. We should always remember God’s love. Like the writer of Hebrews stated:

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away ( Hebrews 2:1)