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March 26, 2013 > The many faces of Easter

The many faces of Easter

By Mauricio Segura

Though symbolically linked to the Jewish passover, Easter or Pasch as it's known among the Eastern Orthodox, is a Christian celebration commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion. However, the approach to its celebration and customs vary from country to country and religious denomination.

Easter is the culmination of what termed the Passion of the Christ. A 40-day period of prayer, fasting, and penance known as Lent, ends with Holy Week, culminating in three final days. These days are known as Easter Triduum, Holy Triduum, Paschal Triduum, or quite simply "The Three Days." Maundy Thursday (the vigil of Good Friday) begins on Thursday evening to commemorate the Lord's Supper, where Jesus broke bread with the disciples and revealed that one of them would eventually betray him. This is followed by Good Friday, a remembrance of Jesus' passion and death by crucifixion at Calvary according to the Gospels of the New Testament of the Bible. Holy Saturday commemorates the day Jesus spent lying in his tomb, also regarded as Black Saturday in the Philippines. Finally, Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection and transformation into the savior.

The dates of Easter and its holidays are known as movable feasts, meaning that they do not fall on any fixed date on the Gregorian or Julian calendars. The first Council of Nicea (a council of Christian bishops who convened in 325 A.D.) established the date as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the March Equinox. In Western Christianity, this Sunday can fall on any date between March 22 and April 25.

Just as Christmas is celebrated throughout the world by non-Christians, Easter has taken secular significance as well. People color eggs, organize egg hunts, and have inserted springtime icons including the Easter Bunny with a basket of eggs. Why eggs... why rabbits?

Hundreds of years ago, it was believed that rabbits were hermaphrodites. The idea that they could reproduce without loss of virginity was associated with the Virgin Mary. Rabbits were often depicted in paintings of Mary and Child, an additional association to the Trinity. Perhaps, this prompted Georg Franck von Frankenau's 1682 children's book depicting the Easter Hare bringing eggs to all the poor children. Easter eggs are given to celebrate Easter or springtime, common during Eastertide symbolizing the empty tomb of Jesus. Like a tomb, the shell appears solid yet a living bird emerges from it. Similarly, for Christians, it serves as a reminder that Jesus rose from the grave. Originally the eggs were colored red to symbolize the blood of Jesus.

Easter has many faces, but whether celebrated in prayer and meditation or with colorful eggs, it is a joyous occasion.

Easter Musical Outreach
Mar 28 - 30
7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Neighborhood Church
20600 John Dr., Castro Valley
(510) 537-4690

Egg Olympics
Saturday, Mar 30
10 a.m. - noon
Mission Springs Community Church
48989 Milmont Dr., Fremont
(510) 490-0446

Easter Egg Hunt
Saturday, Mar 30
9:30 a.m. - noon
Bridges Community Church
505 Driscoll Rd., Fremont
(510) 651-2030

Easter Egg Hunt and Bonnet Parade
Saturday, Mar 30
9 a.m.
Kennedy Park
19501 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward
(510) 888-0211

Spring Egg Hunt
Saturday, Mar 30
9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Kennedy Community Center and Park
1333 Decoto Rd., Union City
(510) 675-5329
Tickets: $10 advance, $13 at the door

Easter Egg Hunt
Saturday, Mar 30
10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Christ Community Church of Milpitas
1000 S. Park Victoria Dr., Milpitas
(408) 240-7920
Free (please bring bag of individually-wrapped candy)

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