The history of Easter and springtime traditions

By Lily Remick, assistant news editor

Spring is a word with multiple meanings. One meaning is a movement that is quick, another the elastic object that many use in tools, lastly to originate or rise from. That last definition of spring is major when it comes to the season of spring. 

During the season of spring when flowers start to bloom and blossom, rain pours a majority of the days, and the sky is sunny with a cool gentle breeze, there is also the holiday Easter to look forward to. The word spring basically defines the holiday Easter. 

The celebration of Easter originated from the Christian story of Jesus rising from the dead. Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, or the first Sunday after the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. Jesus’ resurrection only three days after his death and crucifixion is why we have a pastel colorful holiday. For a lot of churches, Easter celebrates Jesus’ resurrection. This celebration is at the end of Lent. Lent is a period of forty days which includes fasting and penitence all leading up to the persecution, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. Not only that, but Lent also leads up to the last week known as Holy Week.

Holy week consists of Palm Sunday, Holy Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. This holiday is said to be the single most important day for Christians. The resurrection of Jesus on Sunday morning is a symbol and focal point of Christianity. This day is a sign of hope because Jesus was killed on the cross and came back to life days later completely alive. He was a sign of hope, peace, and love. 

Now in the twenty-first century, many celebrate the holiday in different ways. Some go to church in the morning and some wake up with their young children to go running downstairs in their pajamas to find a pink, yellow, and blue colored basket filled with goodies. However, many participate in both Easter activities. Over thousands of years the holiday has become celebrated in new ways such as chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps, and the Easter Bunny that surprises children with candy and toys.

There are many overlooked factors to Easter. For example, the plastic Easter eggs you hunt for, are a symbol of an empty tomb which signifies the tomb from which Jesus was resurrected. Many act as if the holiday is just an opportunity to eat loads of candy, for which it is a great opportunity, but the importance of Easter is different for all. Christians celebrate the life of Jesus, but some families don’t have religion-based views and celebrate Easter as a fun holiday to come together with family. Others might not even see Easter as a holiday and view it as an ordinary Sunday, and every view of Easter is acceptable.

Easter Sunday will always fall between 22 March and 25 of April within about seven days after the astronomical full moon. This year Easter is on April 17th. Easter is a 2,000-year-old celebration. Another fact that is unknown to many is that right after Sunday is another celebration for many Christians called Easter Monday. This holiday is a legal holiday, meaning that it is established by law and usually a non-working day. A significant controversy was established in the 2nd century AD when the date of Easter was “fixed”.

Easter in itself is a holiday but many holidays connected to it are around the same time. Some examples of these celebrations are Palm Sunday, which occurs the Sunday before Easter, and Holy Saturday, which is celebrated by many Christians. Palm Sunday morning Protestants and many other Christian groups participate in a service.

Palm Sunday commemorates the day Jesus arrived in Jerusalem. The Hebrew community welcomed Jesus into their town by laying palm leaves before him as he rode in on a donkey. One church that partakes in this celebration on Nantucket is the First Congregational Church on Center Street. The people of this church celebrate on Palm Sunday by having all of the children of the church walk around with fresh palm leaves, swaying them above the pews. Another is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Fair Street which gathers at the park down the street and processes to the church with palm branches. Holy Saturday, celebrated by Catholics, is a time when the people of a Catholic Church gather the night before Easter and partake in the Easter Vigil. The Easter Vigil includes lighting candles outside of the church in silence, during this time of lighting the candles praying begins. The lighting of new fire on each candlestick is part of the process to get to the Paschal Candle. This is a long candle that symbolizes “the light of Christ coming into the world.”

Now you know where Easter originated from, what it has become worldwide, and how much history goes into this special day. So now when you hear the word spring, Easter will most likely be the first thing that pops into your head, rather than the elastic object.

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