Easter Season

Easter Season

The feast of Easter is a season of 50 days, from Easter Eve through the Day of Pentecost. It is also known as known as “Eastertide,” “Easter Season,” or “Easter Time,” as well as “Paschaltide,” “Paschal Season,” or “Paschal Time”. From early times the Greek word pentecost (50th day) was used also for the whole Paschal season—the Great Fifty Days. During this season there is no fasting. After the resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days on earth before he ascended, and then there were 10 more days after that before the Day of Pentecost. 

The Council of Nicaea (325) directed that Christians are to pray standing. The word “alleluia” (praise the Lord) is said or sung repeatedly, which contrasts sharply with the season of Lent when the alleluia is omitted. The color of liturgical vestments and hangings is white or gold. The Book of Common Prayer notes that it is customary for the Paschal candle to burn at all services of the Easter season. The “Alleluia, alleluia” may be added to the dismissals and their responses during the Great Fifty Days. The traditional Christian Easter greeting (Lk 24:34: “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.”) serves as the opening acclamation at the eucharist during the Easter season. 

Resurrection of Jesus

The belief that Jesus was raised bodily from the dead by God on the third day after Jesus' crucifixion and burial, exalting him to the near presence of God in eternal glory. The resurrection of Jesus is at the heart of Christianity (Acts 2:22-36). Christian faith would be meaningless without the resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor 15:14). The reality of Jesus' resurrection was experienced by chosen witnesses and proclaimed by the early Christian community. Easter is the day of Jesus' resurrection. Jesus is understood to have been raised on the Sunday following the Friday of his crucifixion.

Jesus' resurrection began the transformation and glorification of the whole cosmos, including the redeemed Christian community. Christ was raised as the “first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:20). By Christ's resurrection, this same new mode of existence is made available to all. 

The Catechism notes that “By his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and opened for us the way of eternal life” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 850). Jesus' resurrection is celebrated by Christians at all times, especially at Easter and throughout the Great Fifty Days of the Easter season, and on Sunday, which is the Lord's Day and the day of resurrection.

Paschal Candle

The Paschal Candle is a large candle that symbolizes the risen Christ. It is often decorated with a cross, symbols of the resurrection, the Greek letters Alpha and Omega, and the year. The term “Paschal” concerns Easter or Passover. At the Easter Vigil, the Paschal candle is lit from the new fire. It is carried by the deacon, who pauses three times and sings or says, “The light of Christ,” and the people respond, “Thanks be to God.” The Paschal candle is carried by the celebrant if there is no deacon. After it is carried to the chancel, its flame may be used to light candles held by members of the congregation. This symbolizes the spreading of the light of Christ into the congregation and the world. The Exsultet is sung or said after the Paschal candle is placed in its stand. It is customary for the Paschal candle to burn at all services from Easter through Pentecost (Book of Common Prayer, pp. 285-287).

After the Easter season, the Paschal candle is typically placed near the font. It should burn at baptisms, representing the new life in Christ that we share in baptism. The newly baptized person may be given a small baptismal candle that is lit from the Paschal candle. It may also be carried in procession at burials and placed near the coffin as a symbol of resurrection life.