Religious holidays

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The meaning of Easter

sent in by Katharina Hines

In Germany, Easter, besides Christmas is the most important holiday.

The word Karfreitag (Grief Friday) is derived from the old-high-German term "chara", which means complaint, misery or mourning. The early Christians deplored a dying and the death of Jesus, because they believed that everything was lost. For it was already one day of the mourning and not the celebration joy. The Karfreitag ("more quietly "a holiday) applied in former times to the Evangelist Christians as a strict penance day and is today highest church holiday. Particularly in death Jesus saw the Reformatoren the release from sin and debt. For the Catholics Easter is the highest church holiday. In the Roman-catholic church the Karfreitag consists of three parts: Word service, the admiration of the cross and the celebration of the coming union. This day is after the excessive quantity the day of death of Jesus. On this day took place the process, the execution and the funeral Jesus in Jerusalem. In the Bible the expirations and events of the events in passion stories appear in the four gospels. After the Jewish calendar Jesus is to 15. Nisan at noon around the ninth hour at the cross on the Kalvarienberg died. After the Gregorian calendar it could have been April 7. 30 or April 3. 33 in the afternoon at three o'clock.

The Karfreitag is the memory day of the crucifixion. He is committed as a nearly day and in the indication of the mourning in silence and revelation. In the afternoon at three the Christians meet 3 o'clock, to the hour of death of Jesus, to the word service with reading of passion history (Leidensgeschichte Jesus), to the cross admiration (the cross covered with a violet chamfering cloth is revealed and admired by knee bends) and the following coming union celebration. At the Karfreitag also the church organization is sad. In the church are no flowers and no candles on the altar and the songs, the sing the Christians without company by the organ and the bells are silent.

Easter Sunday is family day in Germany, with colored eggs, lamb-shaped cake. The colored eggs are hidden in the garden.

On this sacred day all Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the grave. This is the greatest and most joyful event of the year for the believers, the tragedy of "Jesus"crucifixion on Good Friday (Karfreitag) was healed by the message angel at the empty tomb. 'He is not here. He has risen, ("Er ist nicht da. Er ist auferstanden.") There is a belief that the name 'Easter, Ostern' originates from an ancient Anglo-Sax goddess of the dawn (Morgenroete) named 'Eastre, Eostre or Ostara'. Or from 'Austro' a Germanic goddess of the spring season . It is also believed that Easter has close links with the Jewish Pasha Fest (Passover). The French word for Easter is "paques", the Russian and Greeks refer to Easter as "Pascha".

In the second and third century Easter, Ostern was celebrated on different days and there were arguments about when to celebrate it. Easter can occur anytime between March 22. and April 25..

In 325 AD the council of Nicäa, which was assembled by Emperor Constantine I.of Rome in . This council decided on the timing of Easter based on the scriptures of the New Testament, which stated that the death and resurrection of Christ occurred shortly after the beginning of spring and the full moon. As a result, Easter Sunday occurs on the first Sunday of the first full moon after March 21. This is the day of the vernal equinox that is considered to be start of Spring, as the days and nights of equal length. Around 465 AD, the church took up a system of calculation proposed by the astronomer Victorinus. In 1582, Pope Gregory reformed the old Julian calendar and a Georgian calendar was adopted. This calendar was adopted by the western Christian churches, but not by the Eastern Orthodox Churches. They celebrate Easter at a different time, although occasionally the dares coincide. Easter Sunday is the beginning of "Easter time which lasts 50 days and ends on Whitsun "Pfingsten".

In the Catholic Church the Easter meal is very important because on Easter, Ostern the Lent seasons ends.

In many communities Easter, Ostern starts with a celebration of the Easter Night. Before sunrise, around 6 o'clock, the Easter fire is lit, usually on some open place in the community. the light is the symbol for victory of life over the darkness which stands for death. Any more, Easter ,Ostern has traveled away from the real meaning.

It is more symbolized today with Easter bunny, Osterhase and Easter Egg Hunts, "Ostereier suchen". The Easter bunny, Osterhase brings the eggs.

The Easter eggs, Ostereier. The egg has many special meaning. It is food, a symbol for pureness, fertility, natural product for debt. In the 16. and 17. Centuries colored eggs were giving as Easter presents. In church, the priest are giving blessing to the Easter Egg. All farmers had to give tribute to their lords and barons. The tenth part of every harvest and animal of the farmers household had to be giving to the lords and barons.

Easter fire, Osterfeuer The fire is the symbol of the sun. With out the sun we could not survive on this earth. In some areas the old Christmas trees are collected and burned in a special place, making a huge fire, clearing away last signs of the winter and preparing for Spring.


Easter candles, Osterkerzen. You find the meaning about the candles around the world. The candle is the light of the live.

Easter water, Osterwasser The water has the meaning of the life and fertility. In the dark of Easter night girls would go in complete silence, to get Easter Water ,Osterwasser from springs and streams to wash with Easter water. If a girl was able to sprinkle her lover with Easter water, there would be a wedding soon.

In some parts of Germany , villages and towns have wells or fountains, which are decorated for Easter

Easter wheels, Osterräder. In some areas 6 burning wheels will roll down the hill on Easter Sunday in the evening.


In the afternoon the family will have the traditional Easter walk Osterspaziergang. The walk is mostly through gardens or public parks looking for the hidden Easter Eggs.

You can find around Easter time a lot of trees decorated with colored eggs.

At noon many families will have traditional meal of Lamb, Beef or Pork. In the afternoon they have coffee and cake with there family and friends.


At Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) families would find willow branches and put them in a warm place in the house to make them green, that is called "Osterstiepen".

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