A Short Talk on Lent, Holy Week, and Easter

Lent is the Christian season of reflection and preparation of Easter, the time of the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ, starts on Ash Wednesday. Lent commemorates the 40 days of fasting by Jesus Christ and the temptations to sin from Satan, while Jesus was in the wilderness and at times the desert. For 2020, Lent started Feb.26 and ended April 9. Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting and assistance from material pleasures as sex, smoking, and drinking liquor. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, commemorates the day when Jesus died on the cross. Ashes are placed on the forehead, sometimes clearly in the shape of a cross. The ashes symbolize death, mourning, repentance and sorrow for their sins, with the attitude that Jesus died for the sins if the world’s population to be forgiven.

An interesting note is that the ashes, placed in the middle of the forehead are reminiscent of the dark spot found on Hindus and on Buddhist statues. Both religions predate Christianity by centuries, especially Hinduism by thousands of years. On Ash Wednesday, observant Christians  refrain from eating meat. Easter Sunday is the day that honors the day that Jesus arose from the dead. Holy Week is the Christian week before Easter, starting with Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday honors Jesus’s  entry to Jerusalem while rode on a donkey and the people waved palm branches at him and placed palm branches on the ground for the donkey to walk over. Holy Thursday marks the arrest of Jesus. Good Friday marks the crucifixion of Jesus. Good Friday observes the final week of Lent. In the presence Christian pagan world, spring marks the time of rebirth and resurrection over winter. Warmth and bright sunlight return. Greenery returns in grass, flowers popping up, new leaves grow upon the trees.

At this time, pre-Christian people held Easter festivals and prayers. The sun, which rises in the east, and sets in the west; the sun in spring outlasts the night, which the ancient British took special notice of the Easter (traveling from the east) sun. Noticeably, the days are quite longer than the nights.The name Easter is believed to have originated from Eostara, also known as Eostrae, the Anglo Saxon goddess of spring and fertility. This British goddess, older than Christianity, is only one known written reference that is revealed in the writings of Venerable Bele, a British monk who lived in the late seventh and early eighth century.

Eggs and rabbits, especially hares, are associated with this spring goddess because eggs, rabbits; hares are common sights in the warm weather spring and eggs and rabbits symbolize rebirth, resurrection, and fertility of the species. Rabbits are known for quickly producing large number of baby rabbits, also called ‘bunnies’. Rabbits have a gestation period of around 21 days. A female rabbit can have up to 12 babies and very rarely liters as large as 16 and a small as one. Chocolate images of the Easter rabbit and the Easter eggs are common throughout the Easter season, even though rabbits do not come from eggs.

There are also chocolate Christian crosses. The chocolate treats honoring the Holy season go back to about the middle 1800’s.   And there are specialized, highly artistic worked upon eggs, made by Russians, Ukrainians, and other Slavic peoples during Easter time. The Russian Czars, back in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, would have a collection of such very precious Easter eggs. The last Russian Czar was Nicholas Romanov who, with his family, was assassinated by Vladimir Lenin and his army in the Communist Revolution on July 17, 1918. Emperor Nicholas Romanov, known as Nicholas 2, was also known by the Russian Orthodox Christian Church as Saint Nicholas the  Passion Bearer. 

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