Easter Blessings to you and to your family


"Good day I am so grateful I found your weblog, I really found you by error, while I was browsing on Yahoo for something else. Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say thanks for a marvellous post and a all round interesting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the superb work".

- Kalpana

What is Easter and how did the celebration come to be called as Easter?

Easter is the greatest celebration in the Catholic Church and particularly those within the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox traditions around the world. Easter celebrates the beginning and foundation of Christianity. Easter marks the completion of the Holy Week that ends with the Resurrection of Christ from the dead.

According to a seventh century Anglo-Saxon historian and an English monk, the Venerable Bede, the word Easter is connected with an Anglo-Saxon and German Goddess of fertility Eostre. Eostre was the local term for the month of April. Eostre celebrated the renewal of fertility each spring, with symbols that included eggs and rabbits (ancient concepts of fertility and renewal of cycles of life). The primary celebration of Easter was of spring, fertility and rebirth and hence, the connection.

What is Lent and what happens during the Lenten season?

Lent is a religious season and one of the most significant period for the followers of Chirstian faith. It is a time for fasting, prayers, forgiveness, almsgiving and abstinence. This sacred season goes right back to Jesus Christ's life on earth. The Lenten season starts off on Ash Wednesday which is 46 days before Easter (40 fasting days and 6 Sundays) and concludes on Easter Sunday. As Lent follows the liturgical calendar, the date on which Lent falls each year changes. Ash Wednesday is a holy day of obligation or solemnities, which means it is a day of fasting and giving something up or abstinence. It is a day where only one full meal and no meat are to be consumed. The ash element is derived from the ancient Jewish concept of ashes as a sign of mourning. Those who have completed their 18th year and up to the age of 60 are to observe fasting, however, people who are sick are not bound by Church's laws to observe fasting and abstinence. Lent is also a solemn reminder of human mortality and the need for reconciliation with God. The season of Lent invites us to make our hearts and mind ready for remembering Jesus' life, death and Resurrection.

Ash Wednesday falls after the Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day). The word ‘shrove' is derived from the word 'shrive' which translates to “absolve” or abstain. Centuries ago, Shrove Tuesday was the day which marked not only the beginning of the purification of the soul but was a day to also remove items such as sugar, milk, fish, meat, butter and eggs from the house considered as luxuries that should be given up during Lent. On this day, it is customary to eat pancakes and other rich foods in preparation for the next 40 days of self denial.

My little Easter tale growing up as a Catholic

Coming from a devout Catholic family, as a child, living in Mangalore during Lent means observing an array of traditions. It was definetly a season of reflection both at home and at school. On Ash Wednesdays, we as a family attended the local church services and received the ash in the sign of a cross on our foreheads. I attended a local Catholic school and occasionally, I would also attend this service at the Chapel adjacent to the school. At the school, we had to attend regular prayers and Stations of the Cross on all Fridays during Lent. The Stations of the Cross is a 14-step Catholic devotion that commemorates Jesus Christ’s last day on Earth as a man. These stations focus on specific events beginning with His condemnation. Before the commencement of each of the Stations of the Cross, specific meditation prayers are recited by the nuns who lead the Stations of the Cross and each student who participated in the Stations of the Cross was responsible to prepare his/her own specific prayers and meditations. It is interesting to note that even as of today, I attend the Stations of the Cross and no Good Friday is complete without me attending the Stations of the Cross. Of course, like many things, the pandemic took it away in 2020. That was a loss indeed! Fasting was observed strictly in those days by my parents and grandma, beginning with the wearing of ashes on Ash Wednesday and abstinence from meat particularly on Fridays. They followed what was called as Lenten diet which included fish and a variety of home grown vegetables and store bought fruits. I never really understood why we did not eat meat on Fridays when I was growing up but as years rolled by, I have come to know that we refrained from meat on Good Friday and all the Fridays of Lent because Jesus Christ died on Good Friday. This was to honour Christ who sacrificed his flesh for us on a Friday (Klein, P., Catholic Source Book, 78). Further, in the days gone by, meat was eaten occasionally only for celebrations, feasting and rejoicing. I also learnt that the Latin word for meat, caro from which the English words like carnivore and carnivorous have derived, applies strictly to beef, pork, chicken and turkey. It appears only the flesh was prohibited but non-flesh products such as milk, cheese, butter and eggs were consumed during Lent. Fish was consumed as it was excluded from the flesh category because it was more affordable than meat and not necessarily associated with celebrations.

As I mentioned in the earlier paragraphs there are 6 Sundays in Lent, but they are not fasting days. Sundays during Lent are special because Sundays in the eyes of the Church are a "feast" day, a day to celebrate the Resurrection. Sundays in the Roman Rite are exempt from fasting and abstinence. I can recall eating meat only on Sundays during Lent. Food in Lent was secondary and the focus was mostly on reflecting the life of Jesus. During the Lenten season my parents sometimes asked me to give up just one item during Lent such as sweets and although it was difficult, I remember trying to make my parents happy by not consuming sweets during 40 days of Lent. These days it is becoming common for people to focus on their faith and a different kind of abstinence during Lent by studying Bible, praying more, reading devotional books, drinking no alcohol, watching less TV, and not binging on social media.

Easter eggs, hot cross buns and Easter bunnies were concepts I had never heard of and were never a part of my Easter. Only when I came to Australia in the 80s did I see shop shelves loaded with Easter eggs a few days before Easter. I could never figure out how Easter eggs and Easter bunnies were connected to the Resurrection of Jesus but just derived at a simple conclusion that these two iconic symbols were symols of life and rebirth and hence the connection.

The Lenten season reminds me of my family, no matter where I am in the world.

Important things to know about Easter

Holy Week - starts less than one week before Jesus died. Jesus's arrival is celebrated by the people of Jerusalem who waved palm branches singing his praises, Hosanna: "Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord" (John 12:13)

The first day of the Holy Week is Palm Sunday (Passion Sunday) and it is the Sunday before Easter. Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphant arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem. In many churches the liturgy begins with a blessing and procession of palms or olive branches. Palms and olive branches are recognised as symbols of peace and victory. Then there is the lengthy reading of the Passion by the priest, congregation and the lectors. The blessed palm fronds are taken home by the worshippers to serve as a sacred sign of the sacrament. This blessed palm is held on the altar of the home until the Ash Wednesday in the following year.

Maundy Thursday scripture

"If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14)

Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday is the fifth day of the Holy Week. It commemorates the Passover where Jesus shared a special meal with His disciples in which he predicts betrayal by one of his closest followers called Judas. This meal is now known as "Last Supper". The term "Maundy" is derived from Latin meaning "Command". During Last Supper on Maundy Thursday Jesus gave a new commandment to His disciples that they should love and serve one another and to set an example, washed their feet as an act of humbleness and service. Many Catholic churches observe a foot washing ceremony and a special Communion on Maundy Thursday in memory of Jesus' Last Supper with His disciples. These two acts of humility are powerful reminders of how we are to live the Christian life.

Good Friday is the sixth day of the Holy Week and it is the Friday before Easter Sunday. This is the day Catholics commemorate the crucifixion and the death of Christ. Jesus was sent down from heaven as the son of God but the religious leaders did not believe that he was the son of God. This disbelief caused confusion among the people of Jerusalem and they began to criticise Jesus. They shouted "Away with this man" "Crucify him" (Luke 23: 18-25). Jesus was ridiculed, mocked and sentenced to death on a Cross. This was a dark day now called as "Good Friday". Stations of the Cross are held in almost all Catholic churches and this ritual commemorates the fourteen stages of Christ's passion. Later in the day, the Liturgy of the Passion with the Adoration of the Cross takes place. This Liturgy and passion is a unique experience and to a certain extent can be moving even if you are not religious. In the 7th Century CE, the Vatican adopted a ritual practiced in Jerusalem where a piece of the True Cross was venerated on this day. The kissing of the Cross has been declining over the last few years due to hygienic reasons. Instead, it is now a common practise to kneel and bow to the Cross. Good Friday is a day of fasting, abstinence and repentance.

On Good Friday the priests wear red or black vestments because red symbolises martyrdom and black is associated with mourning.

Good Friday

Pilate said to him "what is truth?" After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, "I find no guilt in him but you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release unto you the King of the Jews?" (John 18: 38-39)

Holy Saturday is the seventh day of the Holy Week. Jesus was taken down from the Cross and laid to rest in a tomb after his crucifixion where his body lay for the whole of Saturday. The tomb was sealed and well guarded. As Jesus had made a prophecy that after three days he will rise again, the chief priests and Pharisees wanted to make sure that Jesus would not rise again.

Easter Sunday or Resurrection Sunday is last day of the Holy Week and marks the end of Lent. Easter Sunday celebrates the finding of the empty tomb and the angel's declaration that Jesus has risen. The guards were inadequate to prevent Jesus' resurrection. As the women (Mary, Jesus' mother and Mary Magdalene, a woman follower) approached the tomb of Jesus on early Sunday morning, a violent earthquake shook the ground and an angel rolled back the tombstone and sat on it. The angel announced that Jesus was not there. Jesus had risen and he appeared to two disciples. The disciples returned to Jerusalem and told the other disciples what had happened. Suddenly Jesus came and stood next to all the disciples who had gathered and said to them "peace be with you". The disciples were overjoyed to see Jesus.

It is a day for the celebration of Jesus' Resurrection from the dead and a day for feasting!

Easter Sunday

"He is not here; he has risen!" (Luke 24: 6-7)

What does the most famous Bunny have to do with Jesus' Resurrection?

Have you ever wondered if the Bible makes any mention of the egg-laying rabbit in the Resurrection of Jesus and about the chocolate it will deliver on Easter Sunday? The answer is, yes you probably have!

The Bible does not mention the egg-laying rabbit (originally hare) in the story of Jesus’ Resurrection and about the chocolate it will deliver on the Easter Sunday. Rabbits are prolific breeders and give birth during springtime as soon as the weather warms up. Hence, they are iconic symbols of fertility and new life. Easter is a time of Resurrection and rebirth, a time to celebrate the risen Christ and God's promise of eternal life.

How did the Easter Bunny get its chocolate?

In Paganism, eggs also symbolise new life and appeared at festivals celebrating springtime. In the last couple of centuries, eggs began to take on the form of gifts Christians gave one another during Easter.

Further, it is said that the German protestants who arrived in Pennsylvania in the 1700s brought the myth of an egg laying hare with them. They introduced the German tradition of the hare known as 'Osterhase' or 'Oschter Haws,' who could lay colourful eggs as gifts to children for their good behaviour. This tradition spread across America and became a widespread Easter tradition.

That's a long and egg-cellent Easter blog and to wind up I would like to ask a quick quiz

"Along with Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies and cakes, what other chocolate treats do the Swiss use to commemorate Easter"?

Lavina with Deliciously Indian

Hi, I’m Catherine!

I’m all about creating tasty Indian dishes with whatever’s on hand, even when I’m short on time or budget. I love turning simple ingredients into flavorful delights. Join me on this culinary adventure where we’ll explore the magic of Indian cuisine, one delicious dish at a time!

One Comment

  1. Kalpana Djordje July 13, 2021 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    Good day I am so grateful I found your weblog, I really found you by error, while I was browsing on Yahoo for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to say thanks for a marvelous post and a all round interesting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do keep up the superb work.

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