Saturday, March 22, 2008

Where does Easter come from?

Eostre or Ostara was the goddess of spring, to be worshipped at the time of the vernal, or spring, equinox.

According to the legend, Eostre saved a bird whose wings were frozen from the harsh winter by turning the bird into a rabbit. However, it was a magical rabbit who could actually lay eggs. Also, because rabbits reproduce so rapidly, they are often associated with fertility. Consequently, we have today Easter Bunnies, Easter Eggs and a celebration of Spring.

Easter, also called Pascha, is the most important religious feast in the Christian liturgical year.

The word paschal comes from a Latin word that means belonging to Passover or to Easter. Formerly, Easter and the Passover were closely associated. The resurrection of Jesus took place during the Passover. Christians of the Eastern church initially celebrated both holidays together. But the Passover can fall on any day of the week, and Christians of the Western church preferred to celebrate Easter on Sunday the day of the resurrection.

Easter falls at some point between late March and late April each year (early April to early May in Eastern Christianity), following the cycle of the moon. After several centuries of disagreement, all churches accepted the computation of the Alexandrian Church (now the Coptic Church) that Easter is the first Sunday after the first fourteenth day of the moon (the Paschal Full Moon) that is on or after the ecclesiastical vernal equinox.

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