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Easter Celebrations: When Cultures Collide

When is Easter Celebrated?


Protestant Easter is celebrated on the following dates:

2016: March 27
2017: April 16

Orthodox Easter is celebrated on the following dates:

2016: May 1
2017: April 16

Popular Easter Symbols


When the first perky daffodils peek out of the season's first rich soil, you know it's coming: Easter gift baskets galore - a plethora of egg dye kits, hordes of chocolate bunnies, pounds of pastel colored plastic grass, armies of marshmallow chicks, bushels of candy eggs, and tons of other Easter treats. At least, this is what you'll find in stores. In Christian homes and in churches, you'll find a curious mixture of solemnity and rejoicing as celebrants commemorate the sacrifice of Jesus with his death on the cross and his miraculous resurrection on the third day - an event which, it is believed, wipes away the sins of the world.

Church-goers' celebrations will vary based on which denomination of Christianity they belong to. They may light the Paschal candle at the end of a dark Easter vigil to symbolize Christ's sacrifice as the first light in the darkness. They may hold a series of liturgies and act out the Stations of the Cross - culminating on Easter Sunday in the celebration of the miracle. They may attend Sunrise Service. Whichever kind of fellowship they engage in, many will also share a festive banquet with family and close friends.

But inside the churches, one won't find Easter bunnies, chicks, and eggs alongside the candles, rich garb, and depictions of the Crucifixion. So where did these popular - and delicious - symbols and gifts for children end up as a major part of the most important, often somber, Christian holiday?

Easter

The Spread of Christianity and Easter


The answer lies in ancient history, namely the shift of the Roman Empire from a pagan society to a Christian one. Originally, the Romans worshipped a number of gods with festivals year-round to appease and celebrate their deities - each of whom held sway over some element of nature. At first, when Christianity began to spread throughout the Roman Empire, the Christians were viewed as a subservice cult. Indeed, under the Emperors Nero, Decius, Valerian the Christians were actively persecuted and often executed for crimes against the state.

This state of affairs changed greatly when Constantine I realized the great power that the Christian church could provide him. Instead of killing Christians, Constantine encouraged the building of cathedrals all over Rome, and passed laws forbidding their persecution. As a result, Christianity spread throughout Rome.

And this is where the cultures collide. As in any place where a number of traditions live side-by-side, there is often intermingling of symbols and ideas. Pagan converts to Christianity still valued the nature-based religion they had always known, and they also celebrated a Springtime renewal holiday at the Equinox, around the same time as the Christian Easter holiday. The Equinox celebrations symbolized the end of the "dead" winter season, and the "re-birth" of new life? The bunnies, eggs, and chicks are symbols of fertility, birth, renewal, and reproduction. As the comedian Eddie Izzard says, "Bunny rabbits are for shagging and eggs are for fertility." Pagan converts realized that Easter was also about new life and renewal, so it's no wonder the date of the celebrations and their symbology merged into the Easter holiday, and became the modern blend of sacred fellowship and secular family fun that adults and children look forward to each year.

So whatever you do to celebrate Easter - a big family meal, sending sweet gifts to the people you love, having an Easter egg hunt with the kids, or going to church - don't forget that this holiday includes something for everyone because of the marriage of Pagan memories to the rise of Christianity. Commemorate the day with a clean slate for all, renewed energy for a new life, and indulge in a chocolate bunny just for fun.

Where is Easter Celebrated?


Easter is celebrated around the world anywhere Christians are there to celebrate it, most notably the US, Canada, UK, Greece, Russia, and throughout South America, Europe, and the Middle East.

Easter Gift Baskets for International Delivery:

Africa

Algeria

Angola

Benin

Botswana

Burkina Faso

Burundi

Cameroon

Canary Islands

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Eritrea

Ethiopia

Gabon

Ghana

Ivory Coast

Kenya

Lesotho

Madagascar

Malawi

Mali

Mauritius

Morocco

Mozambique

Namibia

Nigeria

Reunion

Rwanda

Senegal

Seychelles

Sierra Leone

Somalia

South Africa

South Sudan

Swaziland

Tanzania

Tunisia

Uganda

Zambia

Zimbabwe

Asia

Bangladesh

Brunei

Cambodia

China

Georgia

Guam

Hong Kong

India

Indonesia

Japan

Japan APO FPO

Kazakhstan

Kyrgyzstan

Laos

Macau

Malaysia

Maldives

Mongolia

Myanmar

Nepal

Philippines

Singapore

South Korea

Sri Lanka

Taiwan

Tajikistan

Thailand

Turkmenistan

Uzbekistan

Vietnam

Caribbean

Anguilla

Antigua and Barbuda

Aruba

Bahamas

Barbados

Belize

Bermuda

Bonaire

British Virgin Islands

Cayman Islands

Dominica

Dominican Republic

Grenada

Guadeloupe

Haiti

Jamaica

Martinique

Montserrat

Netherlands Antilles

Puerto Rico

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Lucia

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Trinidad and Tobago

Turks and Caicos Islands

US Virgin Islands

Europe

Albania

Andorra

Armenia

Austria

Azerbaijan

Azores

Belarus

Belgium

Bosnia Herzegovina

Bulgaria

Channel Islands

Croatia

Cyprus

Czech Republic

Denmark

Estonia

Faroe Islands

Finland

France

Germany

Germany APO

Gibraltar

Greece

Greenland

Hungary

Ibiza Spain

Iceland

Ireland

Isle of Man

Italy

Kosovo

Latvia

Liechtenstein

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Macedonia

Madeira

Majorca Spain

Malta

Moldova

Monaco

Montenegro

Netherlands

Northern Cyprus

Norway

Poland

Portugal

Romania

Russia

San Marino

Serbia

Sicily Italy

Slovakia

Slovenia

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

Turkey

UK

Ukraine

Vatican City

Latin America

Argentina

Bolivia

Brazil

Chile

Colombia

Costa Rica

Ecuador

El Salvador

French Guiana

Guatemala

Guyana

Honduras

Nicaragua

Panama

Paraguay

Peru

Suriname

Uruguay

Venezuela

Middle East

Afghanistan APO FPO

Bahrain

Egypt

Iraq APO FPO

Israel

Jordan

Kuwait

Lebanon

Oman

Pakistan

Palestine

Qatar

Saudi Arabia

UAE

Yemen

North America

Canada

Cruise Ships

Mexico

Saint Pierre and Miquelon

US APO FPO

USA

Oceania

Australia

Bay of Islands

Cook Islands

Fiji Islands

French Polynesia

Micronesia

New Caledonia

New Zealand

Norfolk Island

Palau

Papua New Guinea

Samoa

Solomon Islands

Tonga

Vanuatu

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