The History Of Easter - A Compelling Look At How We Developed As A Culture

By: Jullienne Queen


Easter the history includes not only the history of the Easter holiday and Easter season, but also the words and traditions that we use today in celebration of Easter.

For the word aspect of Easter the history, the word Easter dates back to the Greek word Pascha which came from the Hebrew word for Passover. Both Easter and Passover are partially traditions that have to do with new life. For Christians Easter is a celebration of Christ's resurrection, while for Jews Passover relates the story of the angel of death killing every first born but passing over homes marked with blood, the Jewish homes. Passover has another connection to Easter in that the Last Supper is believed to have taken place either just before or during Passover. English uses a different word for the holiday name, derived from Eostre in Old English, the name of a Germanic Month, although most romantic languages like Italian and Spanish still use a word similar to Pascha, such as the Spanish La Pascua.

In Easter the history for Christians the Easter season, or Eastertide, is important. It used to be that the season was 40 days from Easter Sunday to the Ascension when God brought Jesus to heaven, but in the modern Christian calendar it has expanded 10 extra days to Pentecost when the holy spirit enlightened the apostles. Pentecost took place on Shavout, a Jewish commemoration of the day God delivered Ten Commandments to Moses.

Over time in the Christian church there were many disputes over the date that Easter should be celebrated. The Quartodeciman controversy was the last of these arguments. It was a dispute based on a difference of one week, whether to celebrate Easter on the Hebrew Nisan 14 or one week later. Passover Proper, held on Nisan 14, is the day people get ready for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Bishop of the Roman Province of Asia wanted the Easter celebration on Nisan 14, while the rest of the Christian world celebrated it on the following Sunday. Nisan 14 could be any day of the week. The initial dispute didn't create a schism. But about 20 years later the Bishop of Rome excommunicated all the Bishops of Asia minor over the practice of celebrating on Nisan 14.

One other element had to do with when the Jews set the date for Nisan 14, and thus for Easter because the Christians had to rely on the Jewish date. It was possible, depending on the decision of Jewish leaders, to have two Nisan 14's within the span of less than a year. The First Council of Nicaea separated Easter from the Hebrew calendar.

For more on Easter the History and the ways the date was calculated through time, visit Wikipedia.

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