It was Easter yesterday and I saw a lot of people posting pictures of colorful eggs and bunnies on their FB walls. For the majority Easter is a day of candies and the coming spring, and very few actually think about the origin of this holiday and what it means. Therefore, I would like to talk a little more about it.
Easter is probably the most meaningful and important holiday for Christians, because it symbolizes the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Why is it important? According to the Bible, all people are born sinful, because sin entered the lives of all human beings through Adam and Eve. People can be good or bad, but they can’t do anything about their sinful nature, and they will never be good enough to reconnect with God and come into His presence again. This is why Jesus came to Earth as a human, lived among people, and died to set us free. Only the perfect God was good enough to be the sacrifice and pay for our sins. People can be reconciled with God by accepting and believing in what Jesus did for them. This is what Easter is celebrating.
Now more about the traditional aspects and their meaning:
Good Friday is the day when Jesus was crucified. It is supposed to be a day of reflexion, to remember that the perfect and sinless God chose to suffer and die for those who did not deserve. It was His choice because of His great love for us. By His death Jesus offered salvation to people.
The Lent is the 40 days before Easter, when people focus on praying, leading a pure life, and fasting as a sacrifice to God. The concept of the Lent comes from the 40 days when Jesus was fasting in the desert. The Bible emphasizes that fasting shouldn’t be torturing our bodies with hunger, but rather serving God, helping the ones in need, and doing good things to others (Isaiah, chapter 58).
Dying Eggs is a tradition for Easter. Originally eggs were dyed red by boiling them in onion peels. The red color represents the blood of Jesus. In some countries people also bake buns, which symbolize the body of Christ. Easter bunnies and candies are also part of a modern Easter tradition, but they are not related to the original meaning of the holiday.
Easter Sunday is the day when Jesus resurrected from the dead and it is the culmination of the holiday. When Mary and others came to see the tomb in the morning, the stone was rolled away and Jesus was not there anymore. After the resurrection He appeared before many people, including His disciples. He told them to go and teach all the nations before His second coming for the great judgement, when satan will be defeated forever. Easter brings the good news to all people that their sins can be forgiven and by faith they can enter the kingdom of God.
Easter in Sweden is often celebrated in the nature with barbeques and outdoor activities. Many people visit their relatives living in the countryside or go to their summer cottages. Children sometimes dress up and walk around the neighbors asking for candies. They are also given paper eggs filled with sweets. The parents may hide these paper eggs, so that the children have to find them. The Easter table usually has eggs, pickled herring, salmon, potatoes, and different types of salad. Another interesting thing that I’ve noticed here is decorating bushes with colorful feathers for Easter. I first thought they were flowers growing on bushes, but they turned out to be painted feathers. Many people also go to church on Easter day. By the way, even though Sweden is considered to be one of the most secular countries in the world, I was surprised to meet a lot of Christians here, who believe in God and go to church not only for holidays, but every Sunday.
Hope it was informative. Feel free to discuss and ask questions below.