Did you know that Easter is the most important holiday in Christianity? Here’s everything you need to know about why we celebrate this holiday.
The purpose of Easter is to remember Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. Historically, this holiday also marks the end of Lent – a holdover from Catholic times.
Easter begins with Maundy Thursday, the day Jesus was betrayed. It is followed by Good Fridaywhich was the day Jesus was crucified.
Next comes Holy Saturday and then Easter Sunday. The latter is, according to Christian tradition, the day Jesus was resurrected.
The Easter weekend ends with Easter Monday – the day Jesus appeared to the disciples.
Why is it called Easter?
The word Easter comes from the Hebrew word pesah and the medieval Latin pascha.
Passover is a significant holiday even within the Jewish faith, but the Jewish Passover is instead celebrated in memory of the exodus from Egypt. The festival begins on the 14th day of the month of Nisan (which roughly corresponds to April), when there is always a full moon. The timing of the Jewish Passover affects when the Christian Passover is celebrated.
Eating lamb on Passover is an old Jewish tradition and in recent times this has become increasingly common even in the Christian celebration here in Sweden.
This is how we celebrate Easter in Sweden
Here in Sweden, we traditionally begin the Christian Easter celebration on Easter Eve. In some parts of the country, however, it is not unusual for children to dress up as Easter ladies and Easter men and be offered sweets already on Maundy Thursday.
Good Friday used to be celebrated with silence, and not infrequently black clothes were worn.
The seriousness of Friday stands in stark contrast to Easter Eve when many enjoy an Easter dinner with food such as herring, salmon, Jansson’s temptation and sometimes lamb. The home is decorated with Easter decorations, often decorated with blown eggs. We also play egg games and give each other eggs filled with candy. There are several reasons why eggs are associated with Easter – one of them is that eggs are a widespread Christian symbol that stands for life.
Easter bonfires and Easter night mass
In the old farming community, it was believed that witches went to Blåkulla and met the devil on the night between Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. That’s why people in Western Sweden light so-called Easter bonfires (or firecrackers) during the Easter weekend, all to “scare away evil”. This happens above all on the evening of Easter Eve.
The Easter Night Mass takes place on the night of Easter Sunday. The mass is defined by lit candles and the churchgoers greet each other with the Easter greeting: “Christ is risen. Yes, he is truly risen.”