By WILLIAM J. KELLY
What is Easter? It is not a spring holiday although this designation has become part of it. It is not a day for you and your children to eat much easter candy and colored eggs although that has become part of it. The Easter Bunny is everywhere although that is not part of it. Easter bonnets, new clothes, corsages and flowers are nice although they are not part of it.
What is Easter really about? Easter is about the “Risen Christ,” the Messiah, the Savior; the person the Jews waited for centuries to come and then refused to accept Him. Those people who accepted Christ were eventually called Christians. There is evidence that early followers of Christ celebrated the resurrection of Jesus in the first century. It had been called Resurrection Day. About the middle of the second century, attempts began to set a date for Easter.
Christians believe that Jesus Christ took upon Himself all the sins of the world and thus became sin and it was necessary to atone for those sins by dying according to the scriptures. Thus the crucifixion on Good Friday of the man who had no sin but who died to atone for the sins of the world to enable all men (men and women) to attain salvation.
The date of Easter Sunday varies each year. The Gregorian calender sets the dates of Easter from March 22nd to April 25th each year. The date each year is determined to be the first Sunday following the first full moon after the March equinox. Thus the various dates. This year the date has been set for March 31st, the date was also March 31st in the year 2008. Preceding Easter Sunday is the 40 days of Lenten period of prayer, fasting and repentance, culminating in holy weeks Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. In my home my three brothers and I had for our penance given up candy and cookies for lent so we were really looking forward to Easter Sunday and our Easter baskets full of chocolate goodies. It was tough to do but this discipline training served us all well in our teen and adult life.