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 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 115 countries out of 192 member states of the United Nation. 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. The father of the Hebrew homes 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 grandchildren 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 this popular encyclopedia tell the story of what happened on that first Good Friday.
Jesus Christ, having been arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by the Temple Guards through the guidance of Judas Iscariot, is brought to the house of Annas, who is father-in-law of the current high priest, Caiaphas. There he is interrogated with little result, and sent bound to Caiaphas the high priest, where the Sanhedrin had assembled (John 18:1-24).
Conflicting testimony against Jesus is brought forth by many witnesses, to which Jesus answers nothing. Finally the high priest adjures Jesus to respond under solemn oath, saying “I adjure you, by the Living God, to tell us, are you the Anointed One, the Son of God?” Jesus testifies in the affirmative, “You have said it, and in time you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty, coming on the clouds of Heaven.” The high priest condemns Jesus for blasphemy, and the Sanhedrin concurs with a sentence of death (Matthew 26:57-66).
However, this 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.
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.
Yours for more family holy-days