Happy Easter to all our Christian friends! Enjoy the feast and celebrations, decorate your eggs, eat some chocolate Easter Bunny, and always look on the bright side of life! 😉
Easter is one of the greatest religious holidays of the Christian calendar, although usually held on different dates by Catholic/Protestant and Orthodox/Oriental churches. Having its roots at the Jewish Passover, it relates to the last days Jesus spent among his disciples, his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection from the dead, around 30CE. Although the holiday culminates on Easter Sunday, the Holy Week prior that is full of significant religious events, particularly Maundy Thursday, where the Last Supper took place, and Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion. During this time, fasting or at least abstinence from meat as well as acts of atonement from sin play an equally important role. For the Catholics, the holiday is more focused on the drama and agony of Jesus, and great procession reenactments of his trial and sufferings take place in many countries around the world, while for the Orthodox the focus is on the joy and significance of the following resurrection, and thus for them Easter is considered even more sacred than Christmas. Another important universal Easter symbol is the decorated red-coloured eggs, signifying the cracked and empty tomb of Jesus, with red being the colour of blood. The decorations differ depending on culture, with the Eastern European countries offering the most elaborate designs. The gift-bearing Easter Bunny, of German folkloric roots, is also a very recognisable universal icon, often offered in chocolate form to children, along with toys.
In Greece, on Saturday night, just right after midnight, people gathered on their parish churches chant the evocative Byzantine hymn of “Christ has risen”, while the sky becomes alight with fireworks and pyrotechnics, in an event trumping even the New Year celebrations. Using a special type of candle, the devotees carry back to their homes the “Holy Light“, given to them by the priests, in theory coming all the way from Jerusalem, where according to the legend it is spontaneously created inside the Tomb of Jesus. Other interesting customs include the “burning of Judas” idol, again symbolising the enduring victory of Good over Evil using light and fire as a medium, quite similar to the Hindu Dewali festival in autumn. The traditional proper wish for Easter and the days afterwards is “Christ has risen”, with the answer being “Truthfully he has risen”. The Easter Sunday feast is an occasion for families to gather together, with roasted mutton and special Easter cake being the food of choice, accompanied by traditional music.