History of Mother’s Day: Ancient and Modern

Mothers Day

HISTORY OF MOTHER’S DAY The person who initially was most active in opposing the celebration of Mother’s Day is the very person who started this holiday in the US. How did that happen? Anna Jarvis’ mother died in 1905, and in her honor, Anna held a memorial in 1908 in Grafton, West Virginia. She continued…

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History of May Day

May Day

HISTORY OF MAY DAY May Day is many things to many people. Etymologically, it is a homophone (same sounding word) for the international call for help. It is a corruption of the French imperative “M’aidez,” meaning “Help me!” It is a holiday claimed by many.   May Day as a Pagan Holiday It is known…

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History of Easter: The Players: Where are They Now?

The Players

HISTORY OF EASTER: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PLAYERS AFTERWARD You may be asking yourself, “Self,” you ask, “where are they now?” And well you might ask. What happened to our players AFTER the events in the Easter story?   HEROD ANTIPAS You may remember that I had said Antipas‘ taking his brother’s wife Herodias as…

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History of Passover

Passover

HISTORY OF PASSOVER Sunset tonight, April 15, marks the beginning of Passover. Exodus 12 in the Hebrew 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…

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History of Good Friday

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 Fortress in the eastern part of the city immediately north of the Temple, the path follows 14 “Stations of…

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History of the Trial: How many did Jesus have?

The Trial

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 distributed across several locations in Jerusalem. Some of these locations are captured in the tradition of the Via Dolorosa, the Way…

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

Sanhedrin

HISTORY OF THE SANHEDRIN The Greek word Συνέδριον, sunedrion, means literally “sitting together” and is usually translated as “council.” It is referred to in the New Testament alternately 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. It reflected the local…

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History of Easter: Why Bunnies and Eggs?

Vintage bunny

HISTORY OF EASTER The most joyous of Christian festivals and one of the first celebrated by Christians across the Roman Empire commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is set on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox.   Meaning of the word Easter There are several theories about where we…

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History of Palm Sunday: How it starts Holy Week

Triumphal Entry

HISTORY OF PALM SUNDAY The week we now call Holy Week or Passion Week starts this weekend with Palm Sunday. Why was this week so important that three of the gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) devote a full third of their contents to reporting this week, and The Fourth Gospel (John) dedicates its entire last half? Jerusalem,…

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History of Herod Antipas: Why Jesus called him That Fox

Herod Antipas

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 died 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…

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History of Pontius Pilate: his Background Before Good Friday

Pontius Pilate

HISTORY OF PONTIUS PILATE The Roman governor who presided over the trial of Jesus and ordered his crucifixion had a complex background. The name Pontius Pilate provides two valuable clues to his background and ancestry. The family name, Pontius, was that of a prominent clan among the Samnites, hill cousins of the Latin Romans. They had…

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History of Easter: Historical Climate

Historical Context Jerusalem

HISTORICAL CLIMATE OF EASTER As Passion Week begins next weekend, what was the historical climate of Easter Week almost 2,000 years ago surrounding the last week of the life of Jesus of Nazareth? He was a man “born to die,” not just in the normal sense but also in some special sense. Jesus entered Jerusalem…

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