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Easter is the day wherein Christians commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is the central event of the Christian faith and the highest point of Christian worship. It is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon. The date of Easter Sunday changes each year, and several other Christian festivals fix their dates by reference to Easter.
The word "Easter" is probably derived from Estre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. The German word Ostern has the same derivation, but most other languages follow the Greek term used by the early Christians: pascha, from the Hebrew pesach (Passover).
In Latin, Easter is Festa Paschalia (plural because it is a seven-day feast), which became the basis for the French Pâques, the Italian Pasqua, and the Spanish Pascua. Also related are the Scottish Pask, the Dutch Paschen, the Danish Paaske, and the Swedish Pask.
The Bible tells us that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, followed later by some of Jesus' disciples. They discovered Jesus' body had gone and that the tomb was empty. Jesus then appeared to Mary and many of his disciples, speaking with them on separate occasions during the following forty days. As he left them for the last time, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit so the disciples would know God would never leave them. He then ascended into heaven. The Church celebrates this on Ascension day.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the fundamental principles and beliefs of Christianity and a well documented historical fact making Easter the most important day of the Church and the principal feast of the Ecclesiastical year. Christians celebrate Easter Sunday because they believe, Jesus died for their sin on the Cross and offers people the promise of eternal life. Jesus was buried on Friday and rose from death on Sunday.
The Easter Vigil takes place late Holy Saturday evening. It is the primary means by which Easter was observed. It marks the beginning of Easter, awaiting the Lord's return. It has four liturgical components:
- The Service of Light - emphasizes the darkness of the world without God (experienced on Good Friday) and the brilliance of the Resurrection.
b) The Liturgy of the Word - is the ultimate vigil where nine readings are provided, seven from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament (the Epistle and the Gospel). c) The Liturgy of Baptism - the priest blesses the baptismal water and baptizes both children and adult where they make their Baptismal promises. d) The Liturgy of the Eucharist - signifies the paschal sacrifice.
Easter in the Philippines
In the Philippines, Salubong is a popular Easter practice. It is a reenactment of the Risen Christ's meeting with His Mother at the church patio under a specially prepared arch. "Angels" are the little girls who descend from the platform and lift the lambong (veil of mourning) of the grieving Blessed Mother amidst the pealing of bells. The procession of the two images then ends up inside the church and masses are said. Men and women join the procession separately, with men after the image of Christ and the women after the image of Mary and eventually will meet in front of the church.
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