And yes, it is still Easter: it’s not just one day, but lasts for 7 more weeks! Now that may seem like a long time, but as a Christian, I really look forward to Easter since there are a lot of other special days that we have to experience to get there. Even if you aren’t necessarily Christian, many people I’ve talked to are curious about the different services leading up to Easter, and I’m very open to explaining. I find it a wonderful opportunity to get to talk about Christianity and how these events contribute to my own beliefs.
Even though Easter 2016 has come and gone, there is still a lot to learn about the time surrounding the holiday. If you’re unsure of why this is, read on!
Ash Wednesday usually comes in February the day after “Fat Tuesday,” the carnivalesque holiday originating from the Mardi Gras tradition. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a season in the church that lasts 40 days (excluding Sundays) that prepares us for Christ’s death and Resurrection. It is more commonly known as a period when Christians “give something up” to parallel the way Christ fasted in the wilderness for 40 days.
Even though it’s stereotyped as season of loss, solemnity and subtraction, for me, it’s not just about refraining from dessert for a couple days. It’s a time to seriously reflect on the sacrifices Jesus made for us, and try to convey this gratitude in the way we live our own lives. You don’t have to view this as a time solely for giving things up, but adding something to your daily life as well, such as Lenten prayer, helps me feel more fulfilled during the often trying season of Lent.
Holy Week begins a week before Easter Sunday, starting with Palm Sunday. Historically, this is the day when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem riding on the back of a donkey and the people laid palm branches in his path. To me, it is important to commemorate this day because it reminds me that Jesus is humble and lowly, yet is still worshipped as a King. It is also a somber reminder that he arrived in the city where he will be put to death.
The other Holy Week services some churches host are Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Maundy Thursday tells the story of Jesus’ humble servitude as he washes his disciple’s feet. This willing, loving attitude of treating others as greater than himself serves as an example of how I need to treat others in my own life.
Maundy Thursday is also symbolic of the spiritual cleansing that Christians undergo to prepare for Christ’s death on Good Friday. This service is solemn and thought-provoking since we read the Gospel story of Jesus’ crucifixion and meditate on our own sins. I always feel ashamed of my personal complaints when I think of what Jesus, a perfectly innocent man, had to endure for us on the cross. It makes me realize my problems are quite small in comparison.
And then there’s Easter! When this day finally comes, it’s no wonder why everyone’s spirits are uplifted—Jesus’ spirit is! It is the most important day that summarizes the entire Christian belief, so it deserves all the joy and praise that comes along with it. As I said, it lasts 7 whole weeks not only to fully celebrate Christ’s resurrection, but to acknowledge his appearance to his disciples multiple times before Ascending into heaven. These stories are also just as significant to remember during Easter time to remind us of Jesus’ awesome power over death. It also makes me happy and rejuvenated to know that I got through the hard months and know there is much rejoicing ahead.
So, in a nutshell, those are some of the important days marking Christ’s journey to the Resurrection. I hope I answered some questions, whether or not you are Christian. I think that understanding these events may help some more deeply reflect on their own feelings about their beliefs and spiritual life. It’s an honor to even get to write about my faith and share with you my thoughts and experiences of these events!
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