Easter is the principal annual festival of the Christians which celebrates the ressurection of Jesus Christ three days after crucifixion. It is the oldest of all the Christian observences. According to some sources the celebration of Easter is a convergence of the three traditions - Pagan, Hebrew and Christian. Most religious historians believe that many elements of the Christian observance of Easter were derived from earlier Pagan celebrations.
Following the Jewish Passover, Pascha, celebrated by the Christians, was a festival of redemption and commemorated both the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as the vehicle for God’s grace. Easter and Passover were movable feasts. The date of both Easter and Passover were not fixed but were determined by a system based on a lunar calendar adapted from a formula decided by the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.
Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring equinox, the day when the sun’s ecliptic or apparent path in the sky crosses the equator, thus making days and nights of equal length. This usually occurs on March 21, which means the date of Easter can range between March 22 and April 25 depending on the lunar cycle.
The most traditional way of celebrating Easter among Protestant and Evangelical churches are the Easter musical or cantata, or a series of special music and song. This has a revered history in the Western church. Given the important place of music among most churches that tend to shy away from liturgical worship, it is easy to understand why music emerged as a primary means of worship for Easter. But even with music at the heart of many Easter services, there are still other symbols and activities that can be equally important and creative in communicating the message of the resurrection.
The Flowering Cross symbolizes the new life that emerges from the death of Jesus on Good Friday. This cross varies in sizes but a full sized cross six to seven feet high is most impressive. Before the Easter service the cross is covered with flowers and the top draped in white. The entire cross is covered with the flowers and is placed prominently at the front of the church to greet worshippers as they enter the sanctuary on Easter Sunday.
The Empty Tomb is a small model or symbolic representation of the tomb in which Jesus was placed. It is constructed from several hand-sized rocks with a single rock at the front to serve as a closure for the tomb. A light is placed inside the tomb or a white candle placed near it. On Easter morning before worshippers arrive for service, the tomb is opened and the light inside is turned on or the candle is lit. Often flowers are placed over and around the rocks to symbolize the new life that has sprung from death.
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