On Easter Sunday, on any given year other than this, people dress in new finery and go to church services celebrating the resurrection of Christ. Bouquets of fresh flowers — usually lilies (to denote resurrection) and daffodils — lend a splash of color to end the gray, dreary winter season. Soon after church children take part in Easter egg hunts and happily gorge themselves on chocolate and other goodies dropped off by that most wonderful of mythical creatures (created by dentists?) the Easter Bunny. 

Yes, Easter is perfectly timed, especially for those of us who live in the frozen tundra, since it combines the date we celebrate the resurrection of Christ with the rebirth of the nature around us. But although Easter is a Christian holiday the way we celebrate it — including the name of the holiday itself — has connections to paganism. 

Easter, which used to be known as Resurrection Sunday, always takes place at the end of Lent. Lent is a period of 40 days of fasting, prayer, and repentance (that many Christians no longer observe… of which I too am guilty). The last week of Lent is Holy Week.

Holy Week, also known as “Passion Week,” begins with Palm Sunday, the day Jesus entered Jerusalem and was celebrated by his followers who threw palms at his feet. A few days later, on Holy Thursday, Jesus, during the Last Supper, observed Passover by having a meal of bread and wine with his disciples. This is when he predicted that one of them would betray him. (Passover is the day the Jews commemorate their freedom and exodus from Egypt. The eating of bread and wine is a rite that is still followed by Catholics.)