March 20, 2017

#05-019: Lent and Easter

familiar fresco of Jesus at a table, windows behind; six men in various postures are to either side of him (twelve total): da Vinci's "Last Supper"
The Last Supper took place in Holy Week, the last week of Lent before Easter

Note: The most important Christian holiday is not Christmas, as you might guess, but Easter, which also inspired a number other traditional observances, including Lent.

Get Ready: Do you do anything special for Easter or Lent?

Read about preparations for Lent in Lesson #05-008.

Most people, if asked, "What is the most important holiday in the Christian religion?" would quickly answer, "Christmas!"

But they would be wrong.

Christmas wasn't celebrated for over three centuries after the life of Jesus; in fact, the date of his birth is unknown, but it definitely wasn't December 25th!

Instead, the most important holiday, from the very beginning, was Easter. The religion itself wouldn't exist if the events alleged to have happened on and near that day hadn't come to pass.

According to Christian belief, Jesus was crucified on a Friday, now called "Good Friday" in English. (How could that be "good"? Some say it is a corruption of the older term, "God's Friday"; others say, without Jesus' dying, there would be no "salvation," so that's a good thing after all!)

Then, unlike pretty much everybody else, he came back to life three days later, on a Sunday. (Another conundrum: how is Friday to Sunday "three days"? One explanation is that Friday is counted as "Day One," so Sunday is "Day Three.")

That Sunday is called Easter. The date of Easter, like the date of the Chinese New Year ("Spring Festival"), is a "moveable feast," varying over about a month. It is supposed to be "the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox." That means it could be anywhere from two days to almost five weeks after the equinox.

From this date comes several others, the most important being Ash Wednesday, a day when one goes to church and has ashes placed on the forehead as a reminder that "You are dust, and to dust you shall return." The season of Lent is 40 days long, so it begins on a Wednesday. In 2017, it was March 1, and Easter was April 16.

Wait! That's more than 40 days! That's right, it's 47. That's because every Sunday is a "little Easter," and is not counted in the total. So we have to take out the seven Sundays to get 40.

Actually, Easter was so important that it changed the day of worship for Christians. Before Jesus, and until today, Jews worship from Friday at sundown until Saturday at sundown. The weekly observance was moved to Sunday in remembrance of Jesus' supposed resurrection.


Read more:

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. alleged
  2. ashes
  3. conundrum
  4. corruption
  5. crucified
  6. forehead
  7. Jews
  8. moveable feast
  9. resurrection
  10. salvation

  1. the space between the eyes and the hairline
  2. supposed
  3. a puzzle
  4. the act of being saved
  5. rising again; that is, coming back alive
  6. the changing of a word's form over time
  7. killed by hanging on a cross
  8. the followers of Judaism
  9. a holiday that can move around on the calendar
  10. the remains of something burned

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for March 20, 2017

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. b; 2. j; 3. c; 4. f; 5. g; 6. a; 7. h; 8. i; 9. e; 10. d