I'm continuing my effort to recognize some special days of the various important faiths which make up my hometown of Vancouver. This weekend we're celebrating Easter with a couple days off. It's always been a secular tradition for our family, and a chance to get together with parents, nieces, nephews, etc. to dine. The Easter tradition is one steeped in Christian lore of course, but somehow we've managed to turn it into an occasion to hunt for eggs and eat chocolate bunnies. I'm still a huge fan of the latter activity, btw.
I searched "Happy Easter" in Google Images and found perhaps the tackiest collection of clip art ever. However, the image of marshmallow peeps I've posted above happens to be my favourite. All sugar, food coloring and petroleum by-products, and not an ounce of nutrition. But oh, so yummy! Here's a quick explanation of what Easter is:
On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ. It is typically the most well-attended Sunday service of the year for Christian churches.
Christians believe, according to Scripture, that Jesus came back to life, or was raised from the dead, three days after his death on the cross. As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday just before Easter. Through his death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus paid the penalty for sin, thus purchasing for all who believe in him, eternal life in Christ Jesus.
The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nisan. It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. And, by following the rituals of Passover, we have the ability to relive and experience the true freedom that our ancestors gained.
The Story in a Nutshell
After many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, during which time the Israelites were subjected to backbreaking labor and unbearable horrors, God saw the people’s distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: “Send forth My people, so that they may serve Me.” But despite numerous warnings, Pharaoh refused to heed God’s command. God then sent upon Egypt ten devastating plagues, afflicting them and destroying everything from their livestock to their crops.
The first two days and last two days (the latter commemorating the splitting of the Red Sea) are full-fledged holidays. Holiday candles are lit at night, and kiddush and sumptuous holiday meals are enjoyed on both nights and days. We don’t go to work, drive, write or switch on or off electric devices. We are permitted to cook and to carry outdoors (click here for the details).
The middle four days are called chol hammed, semi-festive “intermediate days,” when most forms of work are permitted.
Cinephiles will recognize the above story from the epic Charlton Heston flick The Ten Commandments. Moses helped to set things right.
The greeting in Hebrew is Chag Pesach Sameach (Happy Festival of Passover).
So Chag Pesach Sameach and Happy Easter, Vancouver!