History of Easter: Why Bunnies and Eggs?

April 21, 2019
Vintage bunny

HISTORY OF EASTER The most joyous of Christian festivals and one of the first celebrated by Christians commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is set on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. The English word “Easter” corresponding to the German “Oster,” reveals the association of many Easter customs with those of the Teutonic tribes of central Europe. When Christianity reached these people, it incorporated many of their “heathen” (of the heath) rites into the great Christian feast day. Easter month, corresponding to our April was dedicated to Eostre, or Ostara, goddess of the spring.…

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History of Passover

April 19, 2019

HISTORY OF PASSOVER This year, the sunset on the evening of April 19 marks the beginning of Passover. Exodus 12 in the Bible tells the story of Passover from the life of Moses. Ten plagues were visited upon the Egyptian pharaoh (starring Yul Brenner in The Ten Commandments, but he was much better in “The King and I”) to get his attention to release the Children of Israel from bondage. The final plague was the death of the first-born son visited upon the land by the angel of death. The Jews were to smear the blood of a sacrificed lamb…

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History of April 19: Why It’s Significant

April 19, 2019

HISTORY OF APRIL 19 Many of my Facebook friends have asked me to write an article on the History of April 19th. Why? Of course, this date is slightly more likely to fall on a Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday (58 in 400 years each) than on Friday or Saturday (57), and slightly less likely to occur on a Monday or Wednesday (56). But what important things have occurred historically on this date in history? There are many, here are just three:   Reformation — 1529 On April 19, at the Second Diet of Speyer, the first use of the term…

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History of Good Friday

April 19, 2019

HISTORY OF GOOD FRIDAY For centuries pilgrims have walked the Via Dolorosa, “the way of sorrow” in Jerusalem, following the path Jesus took on Good Friday. Starting at the judgment seat of Pilate at the Antonia in the eastern part of the city immediately north of the Temple the path follows several “Stations of the Cross” to the ultimate location at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the traditional site of the crucifixion and burial. Several years ago I walked this road, and though historically anachronistic — some of these roads did not exist during the time of Christ —…

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History of the Trial: How many did Jesus have?

April 18, 2019

THE TRIAL OF JESUS Beginning Thursday night and extending into Friday morning of Holy Week, the trial of Jesus which led to his crucifixion was, in reality, a series of about half a dozen trials, which were distributed across several locations in Jerusalem. Some of these locations are captured in the tradition of the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrow, a series of sites that Christian pilgrims take through the streets of modern Jerusalem commemorating the last hours before Jesus arrival at Golgotha on Good Friday. 1. HOUSE OF ANNAS Following Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane at the bottom…

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History of Maundy Thursday: a Shere or Green Thursday?

April 18, 2019

HISTORY OF MAUNDY THURSDAY Amid the bustle of Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter, Maundy Thursday is easy to overlook. Few calendars label it, and some churches don’t observe it at all, though it may be the oldest of the Holy Week observances. It’s worth asking why, and how, generations of Christians have revered this day. The Middle English word “Maundy” comes from the Latin mandatum, meaning “command.” The reference is Jesus’ words to his disciples in John 13:34: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.“ Jesus…

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History of Easter: The Sanhedrin — Who was this Council?

April 17, 2019

HISTORY OF THE SANHEDRIN The Greek word Συνέδριον, sunedrion, means literally “sitting together” and is usually translated “council.” It is referred to in the New Testament as “the Great Law-Court,” “the Court of Seventy-One,” and “the rulers and elders and scribes.” It was the supreme theocratic court of the Jews and reflected the local autonomy which first the Greek and later the Roman powers granted the Jewish nation during their successive sovereignty over the Land of Israel. Origin Its origin can be traced back as far as 200 B.C. during what is called the “Intertestamental Period,” meaning that period extending about…

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History of Herod Antipas: Why Jesus called him That Fox

April 16, 2019

HISTORY OF HEROD ANTIPAS Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great (whom we met in the Christmas story) and Malthake. After his father’s death in 4 B.C., he was made tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea in the Trans-Jordan area of Palestine which he ruled as a client state of the Roman Empire. Like his father, he was a lover of great and artistic architectural works and built the beautiful Tiberias (named after guess who) as the capital of his kingdom on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, which was renamed to Sea of Tiberias. Similar to his…

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History of Tax Day

April 15, 2019

HISTORY OF TAX DAY Tax Day is the anniversary of the celebration for the elation we feel when we receive a tax refund until we realize it was our own money in the first place and the government has been “borrowing” it from us for the better part of a year and paying us no interest. The holiday is celebrated with the mention of tax credits, exemptions, deductions, write-offs, and dependents… some of which may be the same. Ancient Back during the time of Jesus, this season was referred to as “render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”…

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History of Easter: Why Bunnies and Eggs?

April 21, 2019

HISTORY OF EASTER The most joyous of Christian festivals and one of the first celebrated by Christians commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is set on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. The English word “Easter” corresponding to the German “Oster,” reveals the association of many Easter customs with…

Read More

History of Passover

April 19, 2019

HISTORY OF PASSOVER This year, the sunset on the evening of April 19 marks the beginning of Passover. Exodus 12 in the Bible tells the story of Passover from the life of Moses. Ten plagues were visited upon the Egyptian pharaoh (starring Yul Brenner in The Ten Commandments, but he was much better in “The…

Read More

History of April 19: Why It’s Significant

April 19, 2019

HISTORY OF APRIL 19 Many of my Facebook friends have asked me to write an article on the History of April 19th. Why? Of course, this date is slightly more likely to fall on a Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday (58 in 400 years each) than on Friday or Saturday (57), and slightly less likely to…

Read More

History of Good Friday

April 19, 2019

HISTORY OF GOOD FRIDAY For centuries pilgrims have walked the Via Dolorosa, “the way of sorrow” in Jerusalem, following the path Jesus took on Good Friday. Starting at the judgment seat of Pilate at the Antonia in the eastern part of the city immediately north of the Temple the path follows several “Stations of the…

Read More

History of the Trial: How many did Jesus have?

April 18, 2019

THE TRIAL OF JESUS Beginning Thursday night and extending into Friday morning of Holy Week, the trial of Jesus which led to his crucifixion was, in reality, a series of about half a dozen trials, which were distributed across several locations in Jerusalem. Some of these locations are captured in the tradition of the Via…

Read More