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Southland Christian Ministry Training

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Where Did Easter Come From?

I am sometimes guilty of asking the obvious…. what do you know about Easter? For instance, do you know where the label “Easter” comes from and how we determine when it is? Then ponder this:

There are a range of suggestions as to where the term came from but the two most believable are as follows:

* This Christian festival displaced an ancient pagan celebration involving the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess “Eostre”, and

* The word is also related to an old German word meaning “Sunrise”.

The fact is, Easter is definitely the oldest Christian festival and was first mentioned in mid second century. However, there continued to be questions of when it should be celebrated, which was not settled till the Council of Nicaea in 325 which declared that Easter should be celebrated on the first Sunday following the full moon after March 21, the vernal equinox. That is why Easter is a movable feast which may occur as early as March 22 or as late as April 25! Yet the eastern and western branches of the church still can’t agree – though this year they will celebrate it on the same day.

So, what does Easter have to do with chocolate eggs and bunnies? Absolutely nothing! At least not from the theological angle. A better question is what does Easter mean to you? For me as a Christian it is pivotal to everything else, and if you want to explore that question maybe you could send me an email and we can discuss it further.

Chaplain Ian Whitley

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