On Easter Monday, the day after Easter Sunday, I rang my brother and wished him a happy Easter. ‘That was yesterday’, he replied. I said that we celebrated it for a whole week. ‘How many Easter eggs can you eat in a week?’ was the reply I got.
Actually we celebrate Eastertide for fifty days, a quick calculation and you’ll see that brings us to Pentecost, Whit Sunday. As a child I had little idea what Whit was about, but we got a week’s holiday at Whit, which made it a good thing.
So, why are we still celebrating Easter when all the Easter eggs are probably finished? Easter Sunday is the most important day in the Christian year, the day when we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, something to give every human being hope. The Paschal Candle is a symbol of this—if you have visited out chapel during Eastertide, you will have seen our Paschal Candle in a prominent place in front of the lectern.
Easter Sunday is so important that the liturgy celebrates it with a ‘week of Sundays’, the Easter Octave. And, guess what, the following week is called ‘Low Week’, time to ‘come back to earth’ after the celebrations, both liturgical and other.
‘Alleluia’ has a special place in the liturgy during Eastertide. We sing ‘Alleluia’ throughout the liturgical year, except during Lent, but in Eastertide we sing it more often, this is the season of joy and praise. In one of Saint Augustine’s many sermons, he reflects on the Easter Alleluia, here’s a couple of lines from that sermon:–
Now therefore, brothers and sisters, we urge you to praise God. That is what we are all telling each other when we say Alleluia. You say to your neighbour, “Praise the Lord!” and he says the same to you. We are all urging one another to praise the Lord, and all thereby doing what each of us urges the other to do.
Eastertide, with its special emphasis on the Resurrection, continues past Ascension Day, when the Risen Jesus returned to heaven, and on to Pentecost Sunday, when, according to the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles as they prayed, giving them, and all the followers of Jesus, the courage and ability to continue to spread the Good News of his resurrection—and live up to Gospel values.
Nobody knows how many Eastertides have been celebrated at Turvey Abbey since the first house was built on the site, but Christians have been singing Alleluia through all the wars and disasters of the last 2000 years, and how many there have been. After listening to the news we might not be in the mood to sing alleluia, but, despite everything, let us join with Christians throughout the ages and praise the Lord for his goodness! Incidentally, don’t worry, just like God’s love for us, Easter eggs are available every day of the year—but God’s love is free.