Easter Facts

Happy Easter!

Many think that Easter is just one day, but it’s actually fifty days.

In honor of this special time, here are some facts about Easter.

Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem Old City, Israel. Photo from a friend

Easter Facts

  • Easter, also known as Eastertide, is the most important time of the liturgical year. Christians rejoice in Christ’s Resurrection — His victory over death and the salvation of mankind.
  • In the Romance languages, the name for the Solemnity of the Resurrection of the Lord is similar to the Hebrew word Pesach meaning “Passover”. In many other languages, the word is a transliteration of the Greek word Pascha meaning “Easter”. This is where the terms Paschal Mystery, Paschal Triduum etc. come from. The English word Easter may also have roots in the Norse term Eostur — the time of the new birth of spring or the season of the rising sun.
  • Easter begins at the Vigil — the first Mass and the “Mother of All Vigils” — and ends on Pentecost Sunday.
  • In the Roman Catholic Church, Easter Sunday is always the first Sunday that follows the first full moon of the spring equinox. The date changes each year and can fall on any date between March 22nd and April 25th. This year, Easter Sunday was April 4th.
  • After His Resurrection, Jesus spent forty days with His disciples. On the fortieth day, He ascended into heaven. Ten days later, on Pentecost, the disciples received the Holy Spirit and the Church was born.
  • The fiftieth day is Pentecost (pente means “fifty). This year, Pentecost is Sunday, May 23rd.
  • The fifty days together comprise what is known as one “great Sunday” and are celebrated as one feast day.
  • The first eight days are known as the Octave of Easter — once called “Bright Week” — and continue the celebration of Easter Sunday. It’s the most important week of the year, and no other feasts take place during the octave. The liturgy of each day is treated the same way as the original solemnity, making each day like a “little Sunday”.
  • The Second Sunday of Easter, the Octave Day, is now known as Divine Mercy Sunday. It’s also called Low Sunday to distinguish it from the first Sunday, the high feast.
  • The number of days for rejoicing is longer than the days of preparation (forty) illustrating the central importance of the Paschal Mystery.
  • The Alleluia, which is absent during Lent, is proclaimed in the liturgy and prayers of the Church more than any other time of the year.
  • The Paschal Candle — lit from the new fire of the Easter Vigil — represents Christ, the Light of the World. It is placed in a prominent area of the sanctuary and lit for all liturgical celebrations during Easter.
  • When the Paschal Candle is lit and set in its place at the Vigil, the Exsultet — the beautiful and ancient Easter Proclamation — is sung.
  • The liturgical color used is white.
  • Regina Caeli replaces the Angelus and is traditionally prayed three times per day: 6AM, 12PM and 6PM.
  • For Christians, Sunday is the Lord’s Day and the day to attend Mass because Christ rose on Sunday. “By a tradition handed down from the apostles which took its origin from the very day of Christ’s Resurrection, the Church celebrates the Paschal mystery every seventh day, which day is appropriately called the Lord’s Day or Sunday.” …The Lord’s Supper is its center, for there the whole community of the faithful encounters the risen Lord who invites them to his banquet… (Catechism 1166)
  • By celebrating the Last Supper with his apostles in the course of the Passover meal, Jesus gave the Jewish Passover its definitive meaning. Jesus’ passing over to his father by his death and Resurrection, the new Passover, is anticipated in the Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the kingdom (Catechism 1340).
  • Third Precept of the Church: “You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season” guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy (Catechism 2042).
  • 1983 Code of Canon Law: Can. 920 §1. After being initiated into the Most Holy Eucharist, each of the faithful is obliged to receive Holy Communion at least once a year. §2. This precept must be fulfilled during the Easter season unless it is fulfilled for a just cause at another time during the year.
  • The Resurrection — the fact that “on the third day after His Death Christ rose gloriously from the dead” — is a dogma of the Catholic Church. A dogma is a truth that has been infallibly defined by the Church’s Magisterium to be divinely revealed.
  • The Resurrection was a real event supported by historical evidence. It is also a mystery that can’t be fully understood by man.
  • The Catechism explains the meaning and significance of the Resurrection. Click here to learn more.
  • The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is located in Jerusalem Old City, Israel. Since the fourth century, it has been recognized as the place of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. The Edicule — which comes from the Latin aedicule meaning “little house” — is located in the center of the church and enshrines the tomb. The Edicule is shown below in a photo from a friend.

Christ is risen from the dead!

Dying, he conquered death;

To the dead, he has given life.

(Byzantine Liturgy)

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