Posted by: Billy Marsh | April 12, 2009

What Do You Know About the History of Easter?

Christian History.net has a rather informative ten-question quiz concerning some of the historical development of the celebration of Easter throughout Church history. A lot of Christians today (I am made aware of this more and more everyday) are disconnected from the historical aspects of the Christian faith. Because of this, there is much that is taken for granted in contemporary Christianity. In America, we associate the celebration of Easter with activities such as easter egg hunts, a bunny rabbit, buying new outfits to wear to church, sunrise service (which ironically often begins after the sun has already risen), and a big family meal after the Sunday morning service.  Despite my extreme disapproval for the Easter Bunny, I don’t view the rest of these traditions as necessarily wrong in and of themselves. I do, however, hope and pray that my generation will work to make the remembrance of Jesus Christ’s passion, death, burial, and resurrection at the time known as “Easter” a much more Christian celebration. As John Piper noted in a recent sermon, there is really no more important time of year for Christians than Easter.

I was speaking with two different international students and one international professor this week about how their native countries remember the Lord’s crucifixion and resurrection. The professor (my Theological German prof., Dr. Dietmar Schulze) and one of the two students were both from Germany. They said that it is a national holiday, and not only that, but it is the most revered national holiday all year long. Apparently the Germans take Easter very serious. They said that the national observance of Easter runs from Thursday all the way to the following Monday. Good Friday is a federal holiday, and everything shuts down from local businesses to dance clubs. They, of course, have many more church services during the week remembering the events of Holy Week than we do in the states. Likewise, the second student was a South Korean friend of mine, who said he was disappointed at how little we celebrate Easter in America. He said that he was shocked to find out that in most cases, the only extra thing that the American church has to offer during Holy Week is a sunrise service. In South Korea, he told that they have services every night from Thursday to Sunday as they follow the events leading up to and following Christ’s death. On a different note, I’ve spoken with other Christian friends who have sought out Jewish celebrations of the Passover in order to try and fill the void of the lack of Church tradition for the evangelical observance of Easter.

I say all of this to say, I think we can do better, including myself. I’m already brainstorming for ways that I can make Easter the most important week of the year here in the Marsh household in the years to come, especially now that Kim and I already have one child and plan on having more. I want to pass on Christ-centered traditions to my children, and therefore hopefully, to their children as well, particularly for these times of year that are meant to be distinctively Christian and are essential historical moments for the Christian faith. Going back to the online quiz, I think that not being ignorant of our historical origins will help us find our place in Christian history as we continue to remember the redemptive work of our Triune God.

  • Test your Easter knowledge on the Christian History.net quiz (I scored 60%).
  • Visit Christian History.net and check out all of their many resources. They have a great website, and you can subscribe to their email list which is free.
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Responses

  1. Ummm, I just wanted to let you know that I made 70%!

  2. Because of the mistaken identity in the past in the Rogers’ comments on my blog, I’m not sure who to be spiteful towards, Rachel or Bret?

  3. I have been teaching biblical, New Testament, and early church history in churches for a few years now and I’ ve found that, when such classes are available, there is a real hunger in people to learn of their spiritual past. The more information is available, the more people might just change how they worship year round and celebrate Holy Week.


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