Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter by Mona Risk

We know that Easter must always occur on a Sunday and that Easter Sunday is a holy day for Christians. Many Christians view Easter Sunday as a day of new birth—the resurrection of Jesus Christ being the foundation of the Christian faith.

The councel of Nicea—the fist oecumenical held in Anatolia, modern Turkey—set the date of Easter as the Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the full moon that falls on or after the spring equinox

But why the paschal full moon? Because that was the date of Passover in the Jewish calendar, and the Last Supper (Holy Thursday) occurred on the Passover. Therefore, Easter was the Sunday after Passover.

While Western Christians use the Gregorian calendar (the calendar that's used throughout the West today, in both the secular and religious worlds) to calculate the date of Easter, the Eastern Orthodox continue to use the older Julian calendar. This year, 2014 Easter occurs on the same day for Western and Easter Christians—as it was in 2010 when I visited the Holy Land. Our organized tour flew to Jordan.

After a short visit of the capital of Jordan, Amman, and a day spent to visit the ancient town of Petra, where the movie Indiana Jones was filmed, we drove to Israel.

After a lunch stop in Jericho where the aroma of the many orange and citrus trees wafted around us, we spent a few hours at the Dead Sea that is not bigger than a lake and padded in its muddy water, a water claimed to have therapeutically properties.

I bought several rejuvenating facial cream jars—that didn’t erase a single line from my face.

We arrived in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The city was incredibly crowded with a large number of Jews coming to celebrate the Passover and many groups of pilgrims traveling to attend the Holy Week in Jerusalem.

During the Passover —Holy Week for us—the hotel did not serve bread, milk or eggs in its restaurant as is the Jewish custom, and the elevators were programmed to stop at every floor as the Orthodox Jews could not operate a machine.

We visited Bethlehem, the Church of the Nativity with the Grotto where Jesus was born and the Shepherds Field where the Star appeared to the shepherds. The next day we drove though the verdant hills of Israel to Nazareth and visited the Church of the Annunciation, the Church of the Visitation, and had a lunch of fish at the Lake Tiberias (also called Sea of Galilee) where Christ accomplished several miracles.

On Holy Friday, we saw several groups of pilgrims trudging through the Via Dolorosa with big crosses on their backs. This narrow passage is now cluttered with small colorful shops.

We spent several hours in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the holiest site in all of Christendom. Twice as large as the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, it was built in 326 AC by Emperor Constantine at the site where the three crosses were found, damaged, neglected, and turned into a Moslem school for years, and then renovated in 1959.

The walk through the Via Dolorosa where Christ suffered his Walk of the Cross and the celebration of Easter in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher were the highlights of our trip. But we didn't encounter our Western traditions of coloring eggs and egg hunt for the children.

The word Easter has its roots in "Eastre," which was the name of the Teutonic goddess of spring. Eastre was originally a pagan festival that celebrated the beginning of Spring. The festival focused on fertility, and utilized the egg and the rabbit as symbols of the celebration. Early Christians adopted the pagan festival of Eastre as a time to celebrate the risen Christ, rather than the goddess of Spring.

So what your traditions for Easter or Passover, or simply your family traditions?

About the Author: Mona traveled to more than fifty countries on business or vacation. Eventually she left a scientific career to share with readers the many stories brewing in her head. She writes contemporary romances, sweet or not so sweet, with suspense elements or medical themes. Sprinkled with a good dose of humor, her stories are set in the fascinating places she visited, from exotic Belarus, and historical France, to the beaches of Greece, the monuments of Egypt and the mysterious Islands of Seychelles--or more simply in Ohio, Florida, Boston and Washington, DC. Her titles garnered many awards. A winner of Best Romance Novel at Preditors & Editors, Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite, Epic Award Finalist, first-place wins in Enchanted Quill, Launching a Star, and Wallflower. Find Mona on Facebook, or Twitter, or visit her website.

Holiday Babies Series3 bestsellers novels, about holidays, twin babies and humor.


  1. What a great trip! Do you keep a journal to log all those great details?

  2. Very interesting trip! A girl I went to school with moved to Jerusalem and had a slideshow presentation on a trip back. It's such an interesting area!

  3. Hi Mel, I used to keep a log until ten years ago. Instead now I take hundreds of pictures and label them. This trip was particularly moving. You could feel the faith of the participants, and in that particular year, the various religions congregated there. The police were everywhere with continuous check points.

  4. I can believe she had a slide presentation. There is so much to show to Westerners who never went to this region of the world.

  5. Thanks for the vicarious visit to the Holy Land, Happy Easter!

  6. Hi Lyn, glad you enjoy my reminiscences.

  7. Fascinating, Mona. Sounds like a wonderful trip.

  8. Oh yes, Helen, it was the best trip of my life.