Henry Youngman, a comedian who was known as ‘King of the One Liners’ once said, “I was an atheist for a while but I gave it up, no holy-days.” Such a one liner about holy-days sums up the subject of this week’s Dads4Kids newsletter – Easter Family Holidays.
Most of us celebrate Easter holidays but where did they come from and why do we celebrate them? Most countries in the world celebrate Easter with public holidays such as Good Friday or Easter Monday. Easter Monday is celebrated in 114 countries out of 192 member states of the United Nations. This is a very clear majority.
Many people find the Easter Holiday break annoying because the dates change every year. The reason for this is that the celebration of Easter is based on a Luna-solar Calendar which is the same as the Hebrew Calendar. In many countries Easter is called ‘Pascha’, which is a Greek work derived from the Hebrew word ‘Pesach’, the Hebrew Festival of the Passover. The Passover Festival was a celebration of the rescue of the Israelites from Egypt when the Angel of Death struck the entire first born of Egypt but passed-over the Israelites. The father of the Hebrew home sprinkled the blood of the lamb over the lintel of the door posts of the home to protect his family from judgment.
Orthodox Jews still celebrate the Passover Festival today in much the same manner with the addition of a family meal of unleavened bread. It is interesting to note that Jewish fathers act out these stories and involve the children in a hunt for the removal of the unleavened bread. Sounds a bit like the hunt for Easter eggs to me. Don’t you just love the idea of eating Easter eggs? Our children do.
The Jewish people are masters of making learning fun. The family meal was not only a religious celebration but an interactive and fun learning experience for the children about their history.
What are the origins of Good Friday or ‘God Friday’ as written in old English some 500 years ago? I’ll let Wikipedia tell the story of what happened on that first Good Friday.
The New Testament states that the resurrection of Jesus, which Easter celebrates, is a foundation of the Christian faith. The resurrection established Jesus as the powerful Son of God and is cited as proof that God will judge the world in righteousness. For those who trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection, “death is swallowed up in victory”. Any person who chooses to follow Jesus receives “a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. Through faith in the working of God those who follow Jesus are spiritually resurrected with him so that they may walk in a new way of life and receive eternal salvation.
Easter is linked to the Passover and Exodus from Egypt recorded in the Old Testament through the Last Supper, sufferings and crucifixion of Jesus that preceded the resurrection. According to the New Testament, Jesus gave the Passover meal a new meaning, as in the upper room during the Last Supper he prepared himself and his disciples for his death. He identified the matzah and cup of wine as his body soon to be sacrificed and his blood soon to be shed. Paul states, “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed”; this refers to the Passover requirement to have no yeast in the house and to the allegory of Jesus as the Paschal lamb.
However Wikipedia does not tell the whole story of Easter. For most of us, and especially our children, the giving of Easter eggs on the Sunday of Easter is a celebration of the resurrection, the empty tomb and the Easter holiday. We also need Monday off in order to recover from the deliriums of chocolate poisoning.
Time off is important. Use it for your family. Regenerate your spirit. Meditate. Go to church. Have some fun with your children.
Whichever way you celebrate Easter, tell your children how the Easter family holiday started in the first place and the price that was paid so that we could have some holy-days.