Since, according to the statements of the New Testament, the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ fell in a Passover week , the date of this moving main Jewish festival also determines the date of Easter . It is determined by a lunisolar calendar and in the Western Church always falls on the Sunday after the first spring full moon , in the Gregorian calendar it falls on March 22 at the earliest and on April 25 at the latest. The dates of the moving festive days of the Easter festival circle are also based on this .
In the old church , Easter was celebrated as a unit of memory of suffering and resurrection celebration in the Easter vigil ("full pascha"). From the 4th century, the highest festival in the church year was developed as a three-day celebration ( Triduum Sacrum or Triduum paschale) in a historicizing way. Since then, services in most liturgies have extended from the celebration of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday evening - the eve of Good Friday - through Holy Saturday , the day of the Lord's rest in the grave , to the dawn of the new week on Easter Sunday .
Easter Sunday (liturgical Dominica Resurrectionis , "Sunday of the Resurrection" [of the Lord]) begins the Easter joyful time ( Easter time ), which lasts fifty days up to and including Pentecost . In the Middle Ages , the original triduum developed into a separate Easter triduum, which set off the first three days of the Easter octave from the rest of the celebration week. This non-working period was later shortened until only Easter Monday remained as a public holiday .
Many languages designate Easter with a word derivation from the Aramaic pas-cha , based on the Hebrew word Passover , including:
- Albanian: pashkët
- Danish: påske
- Esperanto: Pasko
- French: Pâques
- Greek: πάσχα / Pascha [ˈpasxa]
- Icelandic: páskar
- Italian: Pasqua
- Catalan: Pasqua
- Dutch: Pasen
- Norwegian: påske
- Low German: Paasken / Paasch (en)
- Portuguese: Páscoa
- Romansh: Pasca / Pasqua
- Romanian: paști
- Russian: Пасха / Pascha [ˈpasxa]
- Swedish: påsk
- Spanish: Pascua
- Turkish: Paskalya
In the north-west of Germany, the name Paasken for Easter in Low German has been preserved to this day. This linguistic tradition points to the essential relationship between the death and resurrection of Jesus and the exodus of the Israelites from slavery and emphasizes the lasting roots of Christianity in Judaism .
Most West Slavic languages call Easter “Big Night”, in Polish Wielkanoc , Czech Velikonoce , Slovak Veľká noc and Slovenian Velika noč . In contrast, Belarusian Вялікдзень (Wjalikdsen), Ukrainian Великдень (Welykden), Bulgarian and Macedonian Великден (Velikden) and in earlier times Serbian Велигдан (Velikdan) with the same meaning “ Baltic languages Latvian Lieldienas and Lithuanian Velykos .
In the two Sorbian languages the word for Easter is Jutry (Upper Sorbian) or Jatšy (Lower Sorbian) and is derived from the Slavic jutro (“morning”). The Hungarian húsvét literally means “to eat meat”, as does the Estonian lihavõte . The Georgian name აღდგომა (aghdgoma) means “resurrection” or “stand up” in general, as well as the Croatian , Bosnian and Serbian Uskrs (Kyrill. Ускрс).
The introduction and cultivation of the term Easter in German is closely related to the structure of the Franconian-German church provinces. These were linguistically and clerically shaped differently. In the Archdiocese of Cologne , the Cologne church province, which was shaped by Franconia, the term pāsche prevailed and was written that way, especially in the documents preserved today. Boniface had Mainz as the bishopric, and from the Anglo-Saxon tradition ôstarun was used there in the Anglo-Saxon reference as a typical mission word in the documents .
The New High German Easter and the English Easter have the same linguistic roots, for the etymology of which there are different approaches. The dictionary of origin of the Duden derives the word from the old Germanic Austrō> Ausro "Morgenröte", which possibly referred to a Germanic spring festival and in Old English was further developed to Ēostre, Ēastre , in Old High German to ōst (a) ra , plural ōstarun . The root of the word is related to the ancient Greek name of the deified dawn Ēōs and the Latin aurora "dawn", which in turn influenced other languages. The underlying Indo-European root is the noun * h₂au̯s-os "Dawn", derived from an Indo-European verbal root * h₂u̯es- "(morning) bright" or * h₂au̯s- "(from the water) draw, bring fire".
Ēostra is first recorded in 738 in Beda Venerabilis ( De temporum ratione 15). The assumption goes back to him that the word referred to an Anglo-Saxon goddess of light, after whom the month of April was named in Anglo-Saxon Ēosturmanoth . The German dictionary of the Brothers Grimm quotes him with the reservation that he could have invented this goddess - whose later name they assume Ostara to be. The hypothetical deity Ostara is viewed more skeptically today. It is more likely that Beda took up folk traditions that were cultivated as part of the spring vegetation rituals and that were connected with the matrons and disecults and that were also common in the pagan Germanic area of that time and are still partly handed down today.
Because of the discovery of the empty tomb of Jesus "early in the morning, just as the sun was rising" ( Mk 16.2 EU ), the dawn is a symbol of the resurrection in Christianity . The Canons Hippolyti (around 350) therefore gave the instruction for Easter vigil: "Everyone should therefore watch until dawn, then wash their bodies with water before celebrating Passover, and the whole people be in the light". This tied also to the biblical Exodus tradition of the Israelites on the night of "passing away" (Hebrew pessach , Eng. Passover ): "A night of watching was it for the Lord, when he brought them out of Egypt. As a night of vigilance for the glory of the Lord, it applies to the Israelites in all generations ”( Ex 12.42 EU ).
Honorius Augustodunensis (12th century) derived Easter from the east (cf. English easter and east ), the direction of the sunrise. Many new Christians at that time used "at sunrise" on Easter morning - Old High German to ostarun - baptized . The name researcher Jürgen Udolph also ties in here, who explains the word with reference to the Easter baptism date from the North Germanic word family ausa (“pour”) and austr (“ pour”) . A pre-Christian water rite was called vatni ausa (“ pouring water”).
Another interpretation is based on the Latin name hebdomada in albis ("white week") for the Easter octave . Since alba loses the meaning “white” in the Romance languages and takes on the special meaning “morning light” or “dawn”, this may have been represented by the corresponding Germanic word.
Different determination of the Easter date
Easter is one of the moving festivals , the calendar date of which varies every year. Easter Sunday depends on the spring full moon , whereby the beginning of spring, deviating from the astronomical date (19 to 21 March) and from the calculation according to the Jewish calendar, is set to 21 March.
After a first generally binding regulation had been decided at the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which now used the Julian calendar , Pope Gregory XIII. introduce the Gregorian calendar in the area of the western church in 1582 . However, the Eastern Churches (with the exception of the Finnish Orthodox Church and the Eastern Syrian Church ) stayed with the Julian calendar, so that since then the Easter date of western Christianity can differ from that of the Orthodox and ancient Eastern churches by up to five weeks. Easter in the Eastern and Western Churches is only 27 times on the same day this century.
All other movable Christian festivals are calculated from Easter Sunday.
Easter in the New Testament
Apparition and grave tradition
The diverse New Testament Easter tradition is essentially traced back to the early Jerusalem community . It is from her that the emphatic cry of jubilation comes from, which to this day opens many Easter services worldwide ( Lk 24.34 EU ):
"The Lord has truly risen ... (and appeared to Simon )!"
According to all the Gospels , Jesus' resurrection is an exclusive act of God and has not been observed by anyone. Only their consequences are described as perceptible to his first successors: women from his homeland, who had seen his death and burial, discover that his grave is empty. Here share Engel them the message of the resurrection with and send them to Peter and the other remaining disciples.
According to the oldest surviving version in the Gospel of Mark ( Mk 16.1–11 EU ), the angel announces a reunion with Jesus in Galilee . However, the women do not tell anyone about this encounter because they are afraid. This is probably how the gospel originally ended; the other sections ( Mk 16.14 ff. EU ) were added later as a summary of other traditions.
The angel also sends the disciples to Galilee in Matthew 28: 1-10 EU . Luke and John place the remaining events in Jerusalem and the surrounding area, where Jesus' own speeches and actions lead his desperate disciples to believe in his new, indestructible life ( Lk 24.31 ff. EU ; Joh 20.16-18 EU ). Jesus' encounter with the assembled first called on the evening of Easter day is the breakthrough: Jesus brings his disciples to believe in him, restores the broken fellowship with him ( Jn 20 : 19-23 EU ) and instructs them to undertake a worldwide mission ( Mk 16, 14 ff. EU ; Mt 28.16–20 EU ; Lk 24.36–50 EU ).
The Jerusalem original Christians held the names of the first Easter witnesses to be particularly significant for their faith ( 1 Cor 15 : 3–8 EU ). Paul of Tarsus , who was the last in this row, tells that he personally met the risen Christ as a persecutor of Christians and was commissioned by him to be the Apostle of the Nations. He, Paul, only got to know the Jerusalem early Christians years later ( Gal 1.15-20 EU ).
The third day"
According to what is probably the earliest Christian creed , Jesus was raised from the dead on the “third day according to the Scriptures” ( 1 Cor 15 : 3–4 EU ). The information relates to the discovery of the empty tomb on the “first day of the week” ( Mk 16.2 EU ; Mt 28.1 EU ; Lk 24.1 EU ; Joh 20.1 EU ) and the apparition of Jesus to some of his disciples on the evening of the same day ( Lk 24.21 EU ). According to the Gospels, this day of resurrection followed the Shabbat after Jesus' crucifixion, which took place in the afternoon on a preparation day for Shabbat. The Christian chronology thus counts Easter as the “third day” starting with the day of the crucifixion as the first day. This corresponds to the contemporary Jewish practice of including only partially affected periods as a whole when specifying a deadline.
In addition, this coined formula connects Jesus' resurrection with a given tradition. The “third day” in the Tanakh is often the point in time when a particular event comes to a head ( Gen 22.4 EU ), the day of rescue from distress ( Jonah 2.1 EU ) and the ultimate turning point towards salvation through God's intervention in history ( Jos 3.2 EU ): With reference to the resurrection particularly clearly in Hos 6.2 EU . This is also reflected in Jesus' announcements of suffering and resurrection, which in the synoptic gospels introduce and structure his passion story . The Gospel of Mark prefers the expression “after three days” (μετὰ τρεῖς ἡμέρας: Mk 8.31 EU ; 9.31 EU ; 10.34 EU ), which, however, specifies an internal period, not an expiration period, like the statement “within three days "( Mk 14.58 EU ; 15.29 EU ) confirmed. In the Gospel of Matthew the ordinal number dominates with a specific article ( Mt 16.21 EU ; 17.23 EU ; 20.19 EU ; not Mt 12.40 EU ). This can also be found in the Gospel of Luke ( Luke 9.22 EU ; 18.33 EU ; 24.7 EU ; not in Luke 9.43b ff. EU ).
While these announcements are often considered to be retrospective editing by original Christians, some possible real announcements of Jesus' suffering and death also contain a three-day statement: for example, the riddle of the “sign of Jonah ” ( Mt 12.40 EU ), its statement “after three days and three nights “Contradicts the Easter date, however, and the word about the demolition and rebuilding of the temple“ in three days ”, which the early Christians referred to Jesus' death and resurrection ( Jn 2.19 ff. EU ).
Relationship to Passover
According to the Synoptics, Jesus' crucifixion took place on the main festival day of Passover, the 15th of Nisan. According to the Gospel of John, however, he died on Nisan 14 at the same time as the Passover lambs were slaughtered in the Jerusalem temple .
Jesus' death is thus marked in early Christianity in the story of suffering, on the other hand Israel's hope for liberation. His resurrection is understood as an affirmation of this hope and its expansion to all peoples is expected.
The Christian Eucharist goes back to the Lord's Supper depicted in the Gospels , which among the synoptics is a Passover meal ( Mk 14.12-26 EU ). In addition, there is the symbol of Agnus Dei (Latin for "Lamb of God") from the Gospel of John ( Joh 1.29 EU ) and especially with Paul from 1 Cor 5.7 EU, which was slaughtered in the temple up to 70 AD Passage animals reminded. After its experience of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christian community saw in Jesus himself the “true Passover sacrifice”; the flawless lamb sacrificed in Passover becomes a symbol of the redeeming devotion of Jesus: "Christ was sacrificed as our Passover lamb" ( 1 Cor 5,7 EU ; Joh 1,36 EU and 19,36 EU ).
Lent and Holy Week
The Easter festival circle has started in the western churches since 1091 with Ash Wednesday , which is followed by a 40-day fasting period . This recalls the 40 years of the Israelites in the desert as well as the 40 days that Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert (cf. Luke 4.1-13 EU ). Lent, also called Easter penance, ends on the 40th day on Holy Saturday. Eastern Christianity includes Sundays as part of Lent, but on the other hand does not include the week before Easter Sunday as one of the 40 days of fasting, but as a separate time period.
This last week before Easter Sunday, Holy Week, begins with Palm Sunday , on which Christians celebrate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. On Maundy Thursday , Christianity celebrates the last supper of Jesus with his disciples. The death of Jesus on the cross is commemorated on the following Good Friday , Holy Saturday is the rest of the grave, and on the third day, Easter Sunday, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated from the dead.
Western church theology understands the commemoration of Christ's passion and death on the cross, his resurrection from the dead and his ascension and exaltation as a unity that is made present in the liturgy . Both Roman and Old Catholic theology describe it as a “ paschal mystery ” in which Jesus Christ “destroyed our death through his death [...] and created life anew through his resurrection”.
In the Protestant churches the connection - without resorting to the concept of mystery - is also expressed in a separate preface for Easter: “Our Easter Lamb, Christ, is sacrificed. Through him you have taken away the sin of the world, you let his dying become a victory for us over death, in his resurrection you give us life again. That is why [today] the whole world rejoices in Easter joy ”.
Since the Carolingian era, the Easter Games played an important catechetical role for the mostly uneducated believers , as the liturgical resurrection celebration in the Western Church had withered into a clerical liturgy, which was celebrated on Holy Saturday morning. The Eastern churches , on the other hand, have held on to the celebration as a night watch from evening to morning, while in most churches in the West the high mass on Easter Sunday formed the climax of Easter. In the Roman Catholic Church this changed with the reform of the Holy Week liturgy by Pope Pius XII. in 1955, when the importance of celebrating Easter vigil was emphasized again.
Easter was the only regular baptism date in the first Christian centuries . The liturgy of the Easter Vigil therefore includes the consecration of the water of baptism and often also the giving of baptism. Since, according to the testimony of the New Testament, the Easter time of joy began in the early morning of the first day of the week with the discovery of the empty tomb of Jesus, the Easter night liturgy, a nocturnal vigil , ends today in the Western churches ideally with the celebration of the Eucharist at sunrise . Often, however, it is already celebrated on the eve of Easter Sunday after dark. Today's missal of the Roman rite thus contains two Easter masses : the Eucharistic celebration as the last part of the Easter Vigil and the "Mass on the day" ( Missa in the , with the Introitus Resurrexi 'I am resurrected') on Easter Sunday.
The Pope usually gives the Apostolic Blessing Urbi et Orbi on Easter Sunday after Holy Mass on St. Peter's Square in Rome , but it is not the final blessing of the Mass, but an independent rite; It is therefore not donated from the altar , but from the benediction loggia above the main portal of St. Peter's Basilica . Usually over 100,000 people take part in St. Peter's Square, and the blessing is broadcast live on over 150 television stations around the world.
The Easter dawn, the appearance of light after a dark night, is a recurring symbol of the resurrection of Christ and the coming resurrection of all people in many hymns, literary works and artistic representations .
“The morning reddens and glows, the whole sky resounds with praise,
the earth rejoices in jubilation, and the underworld moans plaintively.
The strong, royal hero broke death's heavy spell.
His foot trampled the power of hell: we are freed from hard labor.
He, whom the stone kept locked, and who is still guarded in the grave,
he climbs out of the grave as a victor , ascends in radiant triumph.
Already all complaints become silent, pain turns into joy,
because the Lord has risen; a bright angel makes it known.
To the Lord be praise and glory, who rose from the grave, to
the Father and the Spirit at the same time, through all time and eternity. Amen."
Regional Easter customs
In German-speaking countries and the Netherlands , the children are looking for colorfully painted hidden chicken eggs and sweets that have been hidden by the " Easter Bunny ". There is also the custom of decorating branches in vases or on trees in the garden with brightly painted Easter eggs. As an Easter cake, there is a cake in the shape of a rabbit or lamb. Traditions for Easter are the Egg tapping , egg rolling , Easter egg throwing, Stüpen and Eierschibbeln .
In Catholic and many Protestant communities, the church bells do not ring between Good Friday and Easter Vigil. In some parishes, mainly in southern Germany, but also in Luxembourg, children and young people instead move through the village with special rattles or rattles to call for church services and the Angelus prayer .
In France , Austria , but also in predominantly Catholic regions of Germany , children are told that the bells fly to Rome on Good Friday and come back on Easter Sunday to explain why they don't ring. The bells would hide candy for the children on the way back from Rome. The search for the hidden sweets in France - in contrast to the German-speaking countries - does not take place until Easter Monday . The Weihfeuer is known in Styria and Carinthia .
In some areas, the food blessing (in parts of Austria called meat consecration) is also common on Maundy Thursday or Holy Saturday, with traditional Easter dishes (Easter ham, sausages, tongue, horseradish, eggs) being blessed. The “egg pecking” is very popular with the children: each participant receives an egg and collides it with that of another participant. The one whose egg remains whole until the end wins.
In Bulgaria , Greece , Russia , Serbia and Sweden , hard-boiled eggs are painted red or, according to an old custom, colored red with the help of onion skins as a symbol of the new life that was acquired through Christ's sacrifice. In Russia it is also customary to have traditional Easter dishes ( Kulitsch , Pascha ) consecrated on Holy Saturday in addition to Easter eggs .
In Sweden women secretly and silently go to a spring at night to fetch the Easter water . If you manage not to be seen and to wet your loved one with the water, then you will conquer his love with it. Easter is celebrated with fireworks and noise. The "Easter witches" are symbolically chased away by the Easter fire . On Maundy Thursday, Swedish children dress up as " Easter women " ( Påskkärring ). They walk through the streets with long skirts and headscarves and beg at the doors for sweets, as “payment” they hand over Easter pictures they have painted themselves.
In Greece, after the resurrection liturgy , majiritsa , a soup made from the innards of the lamb, is eaten, which is then grilled on a spit during Easter Sunday and in the evening fireworks and firecrackers are set off in many Greek communities . During the Easter days - as in all other Orthodox countries - people greet each other with the Easter greeting : ιριστὸς ἀνέστη! Christos anesti! ('Christ is risen!') The one greeted in this way answers: Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη! Alithos anesti! ('He is truly risen!').
In the Czech Republic , Slovakia , Hungary and Romania a custom is practiced on Easter Monday in which men sprinkle women with water, in Hungary with perfume and with a kind of hand-made rod - pomlázka (Czech Republic), korbáč (Slovakia) - those with colored ones Ribbons are adorned, "symbolically" (ie without hurting) beat. According to tradition, this should preserve the health and beauty of the women affected in the coming year. Women who are overlooked may feel offended. In return, the woman gives the man a brightly painted egg or a small amount of money. In some areas, women can return the favor in the afternoon or the following day by pouring a bucket of cold water over men.
In the Sorbian-Catholic Upper Lusatia around Bautzen , several processions move from one parish to the neighboring parish during Easter riding on Easter Sunday to proclaim the message of the resurrection while singing. Around 1,500 horsemen take part in the nine Sorbian processions every year. This custom is also cultivated in Ostritz an der Neisse, but here in German. The processions are followed by thousands of visitors every year. There, as in several other Slavic cultures, egg carving is known, where elaborate scratching or incising techniques are used to scratch filigree patterns into eggs that have previously been colored in one color. The Burgenland Croatian custom is threatened with extinction.
The Ukraine , the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland as well as the Sorbian-speaking areas in Germany (Brandenburg, Saxony) are probably the countries with the most artistic egg-painting tradition. Ornaments are applied to the pisanki ( pl. ) Or Писанки ( ukr. ) And velikonoční kraslice ( cz. ) (Paintings on the eggs), the eggs are boiled in a dye solution and placed in a basket lined with grass or similar material given away. There are four different techniques for the Sorbian Easter egg , which differ from one region to another.
In Italy there is the "Torta di Pasquetta": a kind of bundt cake with boiled eggs, spinach and the so-called "Easter pigeon". On Good Friday there is a procession in many places where the cross is carried silently through the streets. The resurrection is traditionally celebrated on the second holiday with family and friends with a picnic.
In Finland friends and acquaintances beat each other lightly with a birch rod to commemorate the palm branches with which Jesus was received in Jerusalem. On Easter Sunday children parade through the streets with drums and horns to end the period of mourning. In Finland, Easter is also the festival of candles.
In England you let the colored eggs roll down sloping streets etc. until the shell is completely broken.
In the USA there is the traditional "Easter Parade" on 5th Avenue in New York City . You dress up and drive through the streets in brightly decorated cars. At the White House in Washington , the egg rolls ( "The White House Easter Egg Roll") takes place, each participant will receive a certificate that the president and his wife wooden egg.
The Philippines also have the custom of having rabbits and colorful Easter eggs. When the daffodils ring, parents grab the little children's heads and lift them up. They believe that this is how the children get bigger.
In Mexico , a kind of folk festival with music and dance is celebrated for about two weeks. The streets are decorated with garlands. It's quiet on Good Friday and processions take place.
In the southern hemisphere, Easter falls in autumn, which is why the character of the customs is partly different there. In South America south of the equator, a spring-like ambience is imitated in many places with flower decorations in the streets.
In Australia , engaged couples draw running water from a stream at Easter and keep it until their wedding day. Before going to church, they sprinkle each other with it. This is said to bring good luck.
In Spain processions and parades are in the foreground. On Good Friday, veiled people walk through the streets with hangman's hats and torches and distribute sweets to the children. On Easter Sunday, the Spaniards celebrate in the streets to the music of the band.
More Easter customs and symbols
Other Easter customs and symbols of various origins are:
- Emm output
- Easter fountain
- Easter fox
- Easter candle
- Easter cross
- Easter laughter
- Easter March
- Easter palm
- Easter postcard
- Easter wheel
- Easter riding
- Easter shooting
- Tasty Easter
Easter in art
Easter morning has traditionally also stimulated many artists, for example:
- Claude Lorrain (1600–1682): Easter Morning (painting, 1681)
- Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840): Easter Morning (painting, around 1835)
- Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866): On Easter morning (poem)
- Emanuel Geibel (1815-1884): Easter Morning (poem)
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832): Easter walk (dramatic scene)
- Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (1797–1848): On Easter Sunday, On Easter Monday (poems, in: The spiritual year, 1820)
- Johann Peter Emilius Hartmann (1805–1900): Easter Morning (Organ Sonata)
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic 2020, Easter was celebrated differently around the world than is usual. So fell z. B. in the Vatican State at Easter all face-to-face events with believers. In March 2020 z. For example, in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, there is a ban on celebrating religious services, except as ceremonies broadcast online or on television. This prohibition, not only affecting Christians, also applied during Easter. For the first time in more than 400 years, Easter riding was canceled in Upper Lusatia .
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