A Look at Easter Traditions

(Photo by Jameson Clifton)

(Photo by Jameson Clifton)

By Kylee Ehmann

(Photo by Jameson Clifton)
(Photo by Jameson Clifton)

Easter is one of the holiest days on the Christian calendar and is celebrated by millions, but specific rituals and commemorations vary from one religious subgroup to the other.

Some religions, such as Christian Greek Orthodox, have special services and traditions that last all day. Others, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do not hold specific ceremonies.

Despite any differences, the varying customs share and celebrate the themes of family, love and Christ’s redemption of humanity.

Eastern Greek Orthodox

The celebration begins late on Easter’s eve with a church service called “Anastasi,” a Greek word that translates to “resurrection.”

At midnight the lights in the church are turned off and candles lit by the congregation take their place. The parishioners chant “Christos anesti,” meaning, “Christ is risen.” The service ends around 2 a.m., and afterwards many people have parties in their home and break the 40 day fast from meat, marking the end of Great Lent.

Eastern Christianity begins Great Lent earlier in the year and includes Sundays in their 40 day count, where as Catholic Lent does not. This year, Orthodox Easter falls on April 12, which is a week after Western Easter.

Marina Neofitos, an undeclared freshman, said her family has a positive experience with these holiday traditions.

“It’s an uplifting experience to be in church and singing a chant together with your loved ones and unite to come together to celebrate the resurrection of Christ,” she said.

Neofitos said other traditions include breaking eggs that have been dyed red to symbolize the blood of Jesus from his crucifixion. One person says “Christos anesti” (“Christ has risen”), and the other responds with “Alithos Anesti” (“He truly has”).

Neofitos said she deeply enjoys this holiday and what it represents.

“Easter is so personal to me,” Neofitos said. “It makes me emotional because Jesus Christ gave His life for the forgiveness of sin and gave me the loved ones I have.”

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The day begins with a small present from her mom and an Easter egg hunt with her sister. The rest of the day is a blur of colorful eggs, the occasional chocolate binge and then a large dinner party with all of her extended family.

Eve Olson, a sophomore in linguistics and Middle East studies, said this is how she typically celebrates the holiday, but this year is special because it’s Olson’s first Easter as a Mormon convert.

“Easter used to just mean candy for me,” Olson said. “But now it is a day of celebration and the idea that we can improve and become better people.”

Olson said she will watch the 2015 LDS General Conference, an event held each April and October where members listen to sermons from leaders of the Church either in person or on TV. There are no local church services during the conference.

Although General Conference may take place on Easter Sunday, it is not an official Mormon celebration. Unlike Greek Orthodoxy and other Christian sects, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints don’t have specific traditions or rituals outside of going to church and visiting family.

According to the Church’s website, the focus of the day is for members to reflect on Jesus Christ’s sacrifice with their loved ones and to grow and strengthen their testimonies.

“Easter is a time during which we should feel joyful and optimistic and think about how we can be better people,” Olson said. “And it is a great excuse to eat lots and lots of chocolate.”

Olson said she also participated in Lent this year. She abstained from something meaningful for a 40 day period and focused on prayer. The event is to commemorate when Christ fasted in the wilderness for this amount of time. This year, Olson gave up chocolate.

“I celebrated Easter unreligiously for most of my life, so if you’re not Christian, there’s no shame in buying some chocolate bunnies,” Olson said. “Joy and redemption are themes that anyone can embrace.”

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