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Inquietum Est Cor Nostrum

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April 2017

Easter Traditions: More Than Candy and Colored Eggs

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Photo by Kate Ter Haar

After our time of reflection and prayer, our Lenten journey ends with the celebration of Easter! It is a celebration of new life where families come together to have fun by going on Easter egg hunts, dying hardboiled eggs, and munching on all that yummy Easter chocolate. But where did all these traditions come from? After all, Easter can’t just be all about the candy right?

To begin with, Easter is known as a “movable feast” because it doesn’t fall on a set date every year, Christian churches generally celebrate Easter anywhere between March 22 and April 25 every year. The particular origin of the word “Easter” is unknown.  Nevertheless, some speculate that the name came from the Latin term “hebdomada alba”, or white week, which is a reference to Easter week and the white clothing worn by people who were baptized at the time. On another account, the term later appeared as “esostarum” in Old High German, which eventually became Easter in English.

Even though Easter is celebrated in one day, it’s actually a whole season in the Liturgical Year of the Catholic Church. It begins with Lent, which leads to Easter Sunday, then ending on Eastertide. Lent lasts for 40-days and is a time when Christians focus on prayer, fasting and alms-giving. It also represents the 40-days that Jesus spent alone in the desert before starting His ministry, the biblical story goes on to say that during that time He was also tempted by the devil. After Easter Sunday comes Eastertide. Eastertide is the celebration of Jesus’ ascension into heaven. It is a 50-day period starting from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. Within Eastertide is also a time called the Octave which is the first 8 days after Easter. The octave is celebrated as a solemnity of the Lord.

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Photo by Joe Hall

While the day is commonly known for celebrating new life, Easter can also symbolize many other things which can be seen through Easter traditions. The egg can be seen as a symbol of rebirth, life and fertility. Eggs that were dyed red would symbolize the blood of Jesus dying on the cross. The hard shell of the egg represents the sealed Tomb of Christ, and cracking the shell represents Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Historically, Christians would abstain from eating eggs and meat during Lent, and Easter was the first chance to eat eggs again after a long period of abstinence.

In addition to Easter eggs, who can think about Easter without also thinking about the Easter bunny? However, the Bible gives no mention about any furry, long-eared creature delivering sweets to children. Nevertheless the beloved animal is still a prominent figure in the Easter holiday. But, how did this come to pass? According to History.com, the theory with the most evidence is that this story came over with German immigrants. According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the mythical rabbit’s deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy. And since the legend of a gift giving rabbit took hold, children also enjoy leaving carrots out for their favorite bunny in thanks for all its hard work.

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Photo by Sophie Yalden

Finally, Easter is a time marked with happiness, prayer, and new life. While you enjoy time this year with your friends and family celebrating Easter, remember that it isn’t always about the games and candy, but about the time Jesus took in preparation to spread the gospel.

Happy Easter Everyone!

 

Written by Ashley Leong

Featured image by Annie Spratt

Information for this article was found on the following websites:

http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/easter-symbols

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/20/lent-2012_n_1263583.html?ref=lent

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Prayer Over Playlists: My Annual Lenten Journey

Every year as Lent begins, I close the Spotify app and make a promise not to listen to music until Easter. No, I don’t plug my ears anytime I hear music anywhere, but I do refrain from plugging in my headphones on the bus, while I’m studying, or any other time that I would be listening by myself.

I get crazy looks from my friends when they ask me what I give up for Lent and I understand them completely. For our generation, music is constant, the beats are everywhere and sometimes you just need that favorite rhythm of yours to take you somewhere else or bring you back from it. I depend on music, which is exactly why I give it up every Lent.

I want to depend on God like I do my music. While any good Catholic knows in their heart that God will always come first, everyone has had that week when they’ve replayed that Kendrick song more times than they’ve prayed.

Lent is the chance to break from that, or rather put our regular habits on pause. For 40 days, I break my bubble of beats and look up to the people around me on the bus and on the walk to class. I try to pray and ask what God wants of me this day and every day.

The first few days of my music fast are always hard. My favorite songs stream into my head unbidden and it would make me feel so much better if I could just listen to a couple seconds of a couple songs.

But every year I push through. Sometimes I stumble, but never for that long. Lent isn’t about perfect prayer, but honest effort to grow closer to the One you really couldn’t live without. For me, I need silence to hear Him. Quiet moments where it’s just Him and I, no music to run to when I don’t want to think about the hard stuff.

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Photo by: Jonathan Assink

Despite this being the third year I have completed this fast, I’m still surprised by how much more I enjoy the music at Mass during it, because I sing in praise of Him and not in fulfillment of my desires. Even after Lent is over, I always feel less inclined to drown myself in music, too. The songs that get stuck in my head are gone, and for the most part, I find that I can think more clearly.

After my fast, it’s as if I have been strengthened in these 40 days to reach into next year, always a little less dependent on my playlist. After all, we sacrifice things during Lent not just out of duty to suffer in a small way as He suffered in a big way, but to fortify and remind ourselves of our priorities to God and to each other.

Don’t get me wrong—I still listen to music once Lent is over, and I still always need these 40 days to disconnect every year. There’s nothing wrong with listening to music regularly and I am certainly not one of iron will. I get caught in music when I’m stressed and distract myself from prayer at some point every year, so I really believe it is a blessing that we have Lent every year to break from our habits.

 

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Photo by: Ben White

If you’ve only just decided to give up or begin something for Lent, it’s not too late. Start something good now, like praying a certain prayer every day, and keep going after Easter. Lent, much like New Year’s, isn’t the only time when we get a new beginning.

If giving up music altogether is unfeasible, try listening to it less or just listening to music that glorifies Him. Or better yet, pray and reflect on what it is that you lean on that isn’t related to your faith, something that might distract you often or pull you away from Him. We all have our comforts and there’s nothing wrong with that.

This Lent and every Lent I pray that my earthly comforts do not become my crutches, and that I always remember that it’s God I truly depend on.

 

Written by: Dolores Hinckley, Restless Heart Communications

Featured image by: Jan Vašek

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