Easter 2015 and Good Friday, April 3 – 6

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Good Friday is on April 3 in 2015 and Easter Monday is on April 6.

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Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday and it is a federal statutory holiday across Canada.

It’s a complicated but precise foruma that determines the day Easter Sunday is celebrated: It is the first Sunday after the first full moon in spring (after March 21st) which can occur as early March 22 and as late as April 25.

Good Friday marks the death of Jesus Christ according to the Christian religion. It is a fundamental part of Christianity along with the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. Many agree that this is a more important holiday than Christmas since it is the ultimate proof that Jesus is the son of God because he came back from death.

In provinces where Family Day, Islander Day and Louis Riel Day are not observed Good Friday is the first stat holiday after New Years Day. In Quebec employers can choose to give the day off either on Good Friday or Easter Monday.

Bunnies & Eggs

easter-rabbits-1797909-480x320Easter is a highly commercialized holiday when tons of chocolate is sold in the form of easter eggs and easter bunnies. The Easter Bunny brings a basket full of goodies to children for Easter. Sometimes the gifts are hidden so children have to look for them – this is called an egghunt.

Rabbits and eggs are symbols of fertility and were first mentioned in German literature as early as the 1600s.

There are several traditions for this time of the year. Egg painting is very popular and easy to do. Egg paint kits can be purchased in stores but you can also dye hard boiled eggs using a jar of beet juice! To give eggs extra shine you can rub them with fat – bacon is perfect for this. You laugh now but once you try it you’ll see how well this works!

Petting zoos are popular around Easter, too, where kids get a chance to pet and feed bunnies and other animals. Some people even buy pet bunnies but you should only do this if you are ready to truly commit to having a pet – no impulse shopping please.

Family get-togethers are also part of the Easter weekend. After Christmas and Thanksgiving the Easter weekend meal is the third largest meal nationwide.

The Origins of Easter

easter 2015The month of April was dedicated to Eastre the Anglo-Saxon goddess of offspring and fertility, her symbol being the rabbit. Eggs and rabbits symbolize birth and fertility in many cultures, with eggs decorated in bright colors and given away as gifts.

In 325 A.D., at the Council of Nicaea, Emperor Constantine issued the Easter Rule stating that Easter must be celebrated on a Sunday between the dates of March 22 and April 25. Nowadays, many Christians, in place of Easter, celebrate Resurrection Sunday to commemorate that Christ is risen from the dead and He sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us.

Lent

In the Catholic religion there are 40 days of fasting preceding Easter. The lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on holy Saturday. It is observed to imitate the 40-day fast of Jesus before his death. Generally only one meal a day is allowed and meals shouldn’t include meat or fish. Exceptions apply for children and the elderly. The day after the lent period ends people eat a rich breakfast – break the fast – which consists of eggs, ham, bread and fish followed by games throughout the day.

Do you want perfume? A tradition of “sprinkling” in Hungary

A unique Easter tradition in Hungary is the sprinkling of women with parfume or cologne on Easter Sunday.

Easter-Eggs1Men and older boys get up early in the morning and visit girls and women in their families (they are supposed to arrive when women are still sleeping) and sometimes even walk from house to house to visit strangers in the neighbourhood and sprinkle scented water (parfume) on their heads.

According to tradition this keeps women beautiful until next Easter. They usually recite a “sprikling poem” and ask for permission to sprikle the ladies. Some fun-loving (and brave) men sometimes use a bucket of cold water instead of perfume 😉

In return for the sprinkling women give them hand painted eggs, home-made cake, a shot of liquor and even money.

Palm Sunday, the final Sunday before Easter Sunday, marks the beginning of Holy Week. Christian churches distribute palms (and sometimes pussy willows) on Palm Sunday to commemorate Christ’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, when palm branches were placed in His path, before His arrest and Crucifixion on Good Friday.

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