- Anglo-Saxon: Eastre, from Eostre, Teutonic goddess of dawn and spring
Feast commemorating Christ’s Resurrection from the dead. After the introduction of Christianity among Germanic nations the name Easter, denoting spring, was retained to designate the festival of the Resurrection. With other nations the term commonly used is the Greco-Latin word pascha, derived from the Hebrew pasch (passover). In this way, the Christian feast is linked with the ancient Hebrew festival of the Passover, not arbitrarily, since the Death and Resurrection of Christ coincided with a particular Jewish Pasch, and because in the designs of God there was a connection between the two incidents. Because of the fact which the feast commemorates, the Church has ever regarded Easter as the greatest of her festivals, and from Apostolic times, has assigned to it the central place in her liturgical year. All the movable feasts, from that of the Prayer of Jesus in the Garden (Tuesday after Septuagesima) to the feast of the Sacred Heart (Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi), as also the order of Sundays from Septuagesima to the last Sunday after Pentecost, are made to depend upon the Easter date. Its celebration is preceded by 40 days of prayer and fasting and followed till Trinity Sunday by some 50 days of festivity. The joyous antiphon of the Vidi Aquam takes the place of the Asperges before High Mass, and the exultant Alleluia is constantly repeated in the Mass itself and in the Divine Office. Up to the 12th century, every day within the Easter octave (the eight days immediately following the feast) was a holy day of obligation. Today, however, in most countries even Easter Monday and Tuesday as days of obligation have been abolished.
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