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  Easter Sunday
  Palm Sunday
  Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday)
  Good Friday
  Ascension day
  Whitsunday (Pentecost)


Easter in most countries of the world follow the famliar way we know in Britain. Some countries follow the "Orthodox" way, like in Russia and others in eastern Europe, which is about one week after ours. Christmas is likewise different by about two weeks later than Britain and most western countries.

Lent, the time before Easter which starts in February or March. Before Lent begins, "Shrove" or Pancake Tuesday (also known as Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday) takes place followed by the next day which is Ash Wednesday. During Lent, lasting 40 days, some people give up something they enjoy, usually an item of food like chocolate, to mark Jesus' time in the wilderness/desert.

Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent where some Christians have a Cross marked with ash on their forehead from the previous year's palm from Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday marks the end of Lent and the start of Holy Week leading to Easter Sunday. Palm Sunday was Jesus' triumphant entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey. In some churches, it is traditional to hand out small crosses made from parts of dried palm leaves which are kept for almost a whole year and burnt on the next Ash Wednesday.

Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, is in Holy Week and marks the day/evening of the Last Supper, the final meal Jesus had with His disciples before He died the next day. Jesus washed the disciples feet to show He was their servant as they had been His servants. Then they ate a simple meal involving bread and wine which we Christians have as Communion to do as Jesus asked us to do, to remember Him. The bread represents His body and wine representing His blood.

Good Friday is the day Jesus died on the cross. The Jewish Sabbath, a holy day of rest, is on a Saturday, therefore, His death and burial had to take place before then, which brings us to .......

Easter Sunday, a celebration of Jesus' Resurrection, a very happy day because He rose from the dead to fulfil a promise and predictions by early Jewish prophets made in some books of the Old Testament of the Bible that He would die and rise again on the third day.

Ascension Day, a Thursday, marks the day Jesus ascended, went up, to Heaven, which was 40 days after Easter Sunday and the last time He was seen on Earth by His disciples.

Pentecost, or Whitsunday, when the disciples of Jesus were visited by the Holy Spirit and began their work to tell as many people as possible about Jesus and what He taught and promised.


A shortened copy from the Life & Work April 2014 editorial:

A frequent question, particularly among children is: why is Easter not a 'fixed' day in our calendar? After all, the birth of Christ is firmly established in most of western Christianity so why is the date of his death not established in a similar way?

Unlike Christmas, Easter was set as a 'moveable feast' by the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which established it should be the first Sunday after the full moon following the March equinox. There is good reason for this: it is linked with the Jewish Passover, the last feast celebrated by Jesus before his death. Perhaps too, in those early days of Christianity, night-time vigils were maintained by Christians between Good Friday and Easter Sunday and moonlight may have been an essential part of that journey.

Whatever the reasons, Easter remains an unchanging time of waiting, mystery, rebirth and most importantly, hope.

Lynne McNeil
Life & Work Editor


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