Easter, that means chocolate Easter bunny, eggs and there are holidays. But what is celebrated at Easter? What happens on Maundy Thursday and Palm Sunday?
Around Easter, the days have strange names: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and if you are not a Christian and don’t know the Christian traditions, you might ask yourself: what is celebrated at Easter? Because Easter is a Christian festival – it is the most important festival of Christians, celebrated by Armenian, Coptic, Protestant, Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christians. However, when and how it is celebrated differs among the different Christian denominations.
Worldwide, there are very different rites and customs for celebrating Easter. Here you can learn more about the most bizarre and interesting Easter customs!
Strange: In the 4th century at the Council of Nicaea (325 AD), the Church once decreed that Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the beginning of spring. However, this is on a different day each year and can happen between 22 March and 25 April. This is also the reason why Easter and Pentecost are movable holidays – because the Easter period lasts until Pentecost and Pentecost and Ascension depend on the date of Easter.
The Orthodox Churches do not follow the lunar calendar or the Gregorian calendar, which is the most widely used calendar in the world, but the Julian calendar. This means that the beginning of spring is celebrated 13 days later and Easter is therefore postponed by 13 days.
What many people don’t know: The festive season of Easter lasts a whole 50 days for Christians! They prepare for Easter by fasting for 40 days, and the Easter season for Christians only ends with the feast of Pentecost. What exactly is celebrated on the various holidays always refers to the events described in the Bible!
Ash Wednesday is the end of the fun – it brings to an end the carnival season, during which people still celebrate boisterously in many regions of Germany. Fastnacht, Karneval or Fasching all refer to the evening before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday itself is the first day of the 40-day Lent to prepare for the feast of Chrisiti’s resurrection from the dead. Lent commemorates Jesus’ fasting in the desert. Ecclesiastically, the period from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday – the day before the Resurrection is called Passiontide.
The Sunday before Easter is Palm Sunday and refers to the fact that on this day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people greeted him jubilantly as the Messiah, spreading palm and olive branches and clothing before him as a red carpet. This is described in the New Testament.
You have probably seen an image of Leonardo da Vinco’s famous fresco of Jesus sitting at the table with his 12 disciples at the Last Supper. This is what Maundy Thursday commemorates: the Last Supper on the eve of his death.
It is no longer certain where the name Maundy Thursday comes from. However, it is assumed that it could come from the Old and Middle High German words “grinan” and “grunen”, because these mean to weep and lament.
On Maundy Thursday, Christians also remember the other events described in the Bible. The fact that Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and thus showed them that he served them. And how Judas betrayed him and he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Church bells ring in Germany at 3 pm on Good Friday. They commemorate the 15th hour of the day, which is considered the hour of Jesus’ death. Good Friday is the day on which Jesus was sentenced to death by the Roman city administrator Pontius Pilate and nailed to the cross on the hill of Golgotha. This was a typical form of execution in the ancient world.
Holy Saturday is the Day of the Holy Sepulchre – on this day the altars in the churches are not decorated (no flowers or candles) and there is no service.
Easter is the highest Christian festival, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The high point for Christians is the celebration of the Easter Vigil Mass. Christians all over the world commemorate the events described by the evangelist Mark in the Bible. Women find the empty tomb of Jesus, an angel appears to them and explains what has happened: “You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified one. He is risen; he is not here” (Mark 16:6). The belief in a continuation of life after death is central for Christians.
At the beginning of the Easter Vigil, an Easter candle is burnt and the Easter candle is lit on it. Symbolically, the lighting of the candle stands for the raising of the dead. Now the solemn procession enters the dark church with the candle and brings the light – the “Lumen Christi”, Christ the light.
Easter Sunday, then, celebrates the resurrection of Jesus and thus the victory over death.
On Easter Monday, two disciples who had doubted the resurrection meet Jesus and are now convinced of it. They now spread the “good news”.
On Thursday 40 days after Easter, Christians celebrate Ascension Day after 50 days of Pentecost. It is the feast of the Holy Spirit, for he is said to have appeared to the apostles on this day. So on Pentecost, Christians celebrate the sending of the Holy Spirit, the starting point for the disciples to begin missionary work.
So there is a lot to celebrate during the Easter season! For all families looking for ideas to celebrate Easter with children, there are lots of colourful ideas on our blog. At Abenteuer Freundschaft you can also browse our Easter ideas or find inspiration for activities with friends, activities with children or with your partner.
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