Aunt Louise and Uncle Bob – Easter & April Fool’s Day


Uncle Bob:  So a couple days ago, we told you a little bit about the traditions and celebrations of Passover.  Today we will answer the second half of our student’s question by sharing about Easter, a celebration that is both Christian and secular.


Aunt Louise:  The Christian observance of Easter actually started 40 days before Easter, on a day we call Ash Wednesday, which this year was on Valentine’s Day.  The season of Lent starts then, lasting 40 days, until Holy (or Maundy) Thursday, just before Easter Sunday, which this year falls on April 1.


Uncle Bob:  And that’s no joke!  (April Fools Day, always occurring on April one, is a very silly observance where folks trick each other with a falsehood, then say “April Fool!”  It has absolutely nothing to do with Easter, yet this year they’re on the same day.) Seriously though, 40 is an often-used number in both the Jewish and Christian traditions.  It generally means a period of testing, trial or probation, and can also represent a generation.  Christian Churches vary on observance, the more formal churches more, many of the casual or contemporary ones less, but all are getting ready:  Easter is coming.


Aunt Louise:  The word “Easter” comes from the Greek and Latin “Pascha.”  It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, having occurred on the third day after crucifixion (a horrible prolonged death on a cross) by Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD, as described in the New Testament (the second part of the Christian Bible).  It is celebrated in the Western Hemisphere on the first Sunday following a full moon after the vernal equinox on March 21.


Uncle Bob:  That’s why Easter (and Passover) have different dates each year, they’re determined by lunar calendars.  Passover is determined differently from Easter, but usually they are the same week.  I only remember one time (in my lifetime) they did not.


Aunt Louise: And now you know why most Christian churches have a cross, or many crosses on and inside their buildings.  Catholic churches show Jesus still on the cross and are usually fancy.  The more modern denominations (branches or different groups) have an empty cross, and could even meet in an office building.   They are different, but all are celebrating and remembering.


Uncle Bob: And now for the fun symbols of Easter, why don’t you start with the eggs, Louise?


Aunt Louise:  The egg, in many religions, is a symbol of new life or fertility.  Christianity has an additional meaning as a symbol of Jesus’ resurrection or rebirth.  The egg is a good shape for decorating—a popular activity to do with children, and popular with folks who like to do crafts.  Egg hunts are a lot of fun, with either boiled/decorated or candy eggs.  The first Egg Roll (an egg race for children) occurred at our president’s White House in 1878.


Uncle Bob:  My favorite is the Easter Bunny, who comes at night, leaving candy eggs and chocolate bunnies in good children’s Easter baskets!  The Easter Bunny has been around in the USA since the 1700’s, started by German Immigrants in Pennsylvania, whose “Osterhase,” an Easter hare, laid colored eggs.  Eventually, chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps (you must try one–folks either love them or think them too sweet!) and other candies joined the boiled and decorated eggs in children’s Easter baskets.


Aunt Louise:  There are several classic books and songs—my favorite is “Peter Cottontail” and a few movies, mostly for children, but not all.


Uncle Bob:  I enjoyed singing “Easter Bonnet” to you after we saw Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in “Easter Parade”—that was a great movie!


Aunt Louise:  Yes, dear.  So, Students, in a little over six weeks, you will have had the opportunity to experience six American holidays or observances:   Valentine’s Day, Ash Wednesday/Lent, St. Patrick’s, Passover, Easter and April Fools.


Uncle Bob:  We hope you have a chance to enjoy several events, whether you choose the meaningful or silly ones.  Have a happy spring!

Until next time, Aunt Louise and Uncle Bob

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