Most people, if asked, “What is the most important holiday in the Christian religion?” would quickly answer, “Christmas!”
But they would be wrong.
Christmas wasn’t even celebrated for over three centuries after the life of Jesus; in fact, the date of his birth is unknown.
Instead, the most important holiday, from the very beginning, was Easter. The religion itself wouldn’t exist if the events alleged to have happened on and near that day hadn’t come to pass.
According to Christian belief, Jesus was crucified on a Friday, now called “Good Friday” in English. (How could that be “good”? Some say it is a corruption of the older term, “God’s Friday”; others say, without Jesus’ dying, there would be no “salvation,” so that’s a good thing after all!)
Then, unlike pretty much everybody else, he came back to life three days later, on a Sunday. (Another conundrum: how is Friday to Sunday “three days”? One explanation is that Friday is counted as “Day One,” so Sunday is “Day Three.”)
That Sunday is called Easter. The date of Easter, like the date of the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival), is a “moveable feast,” varying over about a month. It is supposed to be “the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.” That means it could be anywhere from two days to almost five weeks after the equinox.
From this date comes several others, the most important being Ash Wednesday, a day when one goes to church and has ashes placed on the forehead as a reminder that “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The season of Lent is 40 days long, so it begins on a Wednesday. This year it was March 1, and Easter is April 16.
Wait! That’s more than 40 days! That’s right, it’s 47. That’s because every Sunday is a “little Easter,” and is not counted in the total. So take out the seven Sundays.
Actually, Easter was so important that it changed the day of worship for Christians. Before Jesus, and until today, Jews worship from Friday at sundown until Saturday at sundown. The weekly observance was moved to Sunday in remembrance of Jesus’ supposed resurrection.
Which word above means:
1. the space above the eyes
4. act of being saved
5. rising again, that is, coming back alive
6. changing of a word’s form over time
7. killed by hanging on a cross
8. followers of Judaism
9. a holiday that can move around on the calendar
10. the remains of something burned