The name for Easter differs from language to language. Many of the European languages use a derivative of the Hebrew word for Passover ‘Pesach’. Except for English and German words which come from very different roots.
The dates for Easter vary between the Western Christian Churches and the Orthodox Churches. It is also a movable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The date is determined by the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the northern hemisphere’s vernal equinox. This usually places it in the month between March 22 and April 25. Also, the various Orthodox churches use the Julian calendar (lunar) and so the Orthodox Easter can differentiate quite significantly from the Western date. Download a fact sheet on Easter dates to print.
A part of the Easter season that is often forgotten, is the period known as Lent or Great Lent. Lent is a significant part of the Paschal season, and is 40 days long and ends with the Holy Week. How this is celebrated is determined by the religion of the individual. Fasting can be an important part of the celebration.
Fasting may involve abstinence from certain foods through to limited or no consumption of foods during a set period of time.
Most churches recognise the effects of fasting on the elderly and fragile and often have guidelines for those who wish to safely partake in fasting during the Lenten period. In fact, many churches consider the elderly exempt from the practice of fasting.
Customs for Holy Week vary but one significant similarity is that it is a time for family.
Holy Thursday is celebrated in the Catholic Church with the blessing of the Chrism (the holy oil used during baptisms) and the washing of the feet, where the priest washes the feet of volunteers. It is also supposed to be a day where the poor and sick are cared for.
Good Friday is noted for its reflective nature. It is the day that Christ died and services may involve a procession of some kind. In English tradition, this is the day when Hot Cross Buns are baked and eaten. Often for toasted for breakfast. Many cultures abstain from eating meat on this day.
Holy Saturday is noted for the Easter Vigil which is traditionally celebrated on the night before Easter Sunday. In some Slavic Orthodox Churches, people bring baskets of food to the church for the Blessing of the Pascha (Easter) Baskets on Holy Saturday. The baskets are filled with the foods from which people have abstained during the Lenten fast and which will be part of the Pascha feast. These baskets may also contain special painted or dyed eggs. Download a factsheet on Easter bread to print.
Easter Sunday is a day where a person may wear new clothes (it can be considered bad luck to wear old clothes on this day) many cultures celebrate Easter Sunday with a feast, often featuring the foods that had been abstained from during Lent. There are many traditions such as dyed or painted eggs; games like egg hunts and cracking of the eggs (in Greece) are played by children. Many Orthodox countries also have a special Easter bread or cake that is baked for this day.
Easter Monday is often a holiday in many countries and in some customs, it is the day for visiting friends and family.
Easter Egg Sleeves are back at MAC. These handy little slips of plastic are a fun way to decorate for Easter or to incorporate into an activity program. They have a mix of traditional, religious and general pattern, with sleeves sourced from both the Ukraine and Poland.
The sleeves are sold in sets of 21 and can be ordered from the MAC office by calling 82419900 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Sets are priced at $12 for a pack of 21 sleeves or $30 for 3 packs.
They can be used in activity programs and to decorate as shown in the picture above.
Greek Easter Egg Dye is also available from MAC in 4 colours. The traditional red, as well as blue, yellow, and green. These are sold individually for $2 a packet.
Download a copy of the order form to order yours today!
Factsheet download links: