If you are familiar with the story, you would know that the two men were robbers. In their midst was Jesus Christ. –Matthew 27:27-33. Having lived for 33 years in more than two thousand years earlier in our history, there could be no other man as controversial and as interesting as Jesus Christ. Like the details of his birth, Christ’s death was equally characterized by doubts, veneration & disputation, and besmirched with politics.Each year since 325 A.D., Christians celebrated the Easter on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the spring equinox, as was decreed by Emperor Constantine I, the first Roman Christian emperor. Many Christians across the world today carry such tradition with the belief that Easter was about resurrection. But really, what is the meaning of Easter and how is the name derived? A brief look into its history can prove enlightening.
Bede the Venerable, the 8th century English historian and monk says that Easter or Ēostre in old English and Ôstarâ in Old High German has its roots in Teutonic tribe or Germanic people. During their time, the Teutons celebrated the festival of Ôstarâ, an Anglo-Saxon Goddess of spring and sunrise. Ôstarâ was named after the direction of sunrise. At the time when Bede wrote his De Temporum Ratione, the peoples had long stopped celebrating the festival.
The worship of deities and practices of human sacrifices were common to Paganism, from which Easter has been deeply rooted. The worship of Sun as God, for instance, can be dated back to ancient times, in myths like King Nimrod.
King Nimrod is said to have betrayed his great-grandfather Noah, left his Noah’s protection, become a tyrannical ruler and went on to build the famous Tower of Babel.
Doubtless, there was a dispute between the Eastern and Western churches about the exact date that Easter should be celebrated. The Easterners wanted the festival to fall on a weekday because Passover was celebrated on the 14th of Nisan each year. The Westerners, on the other hand, insisted that it should fall always on a Sunday irrespective of the date.
In 325 A.D, the Council of Nicaea was called with the date of the Easter as among the agenda. It was decided by the council that Easter should fall on Sunday, after the first full moon, following the vernal equinox. Nonetheless, it was at the time of Alexandrians, who were known for their apt in astronomical calculations, when March 21 was chosen as the perfect date for spring equinox.
Today however, Easter is movable between March 21 and April 25 as the Churches in the West celebrate it on the first day of the full moon that occurs on or following the spring equinox. Meanwhile, the churches in the East adopted the Passover festival, which takes off as early as the Ash Wednesday—the time when penitence begins or also known as holy week among Catholics—and ends on the Easter Sunday, Jesus Christ’s resurrection. The Philippines is no different when citizens observe the holy week–it concludes on an Easter Sunday.