CROTON FALLS, N.Y. There are Easter eggs and Easter baskets, the Easter bunny and the Easter parade. In many ways Easter has become a secular holiday, so it is easy to forget that it has its basis in the Christian religion.
Jesus came to us at Christmas, explains Monsignor James R. Moore of Croton Falls St. Josephs Catholic Church . He was reared, and after 30 years he began his public ministry and selected his apostles. Easter is the culmination of his ministry. Its the highest of our holy days.
The week preceding Easter Sunday, known as Holy Week, begins on Palm Sunday, when palm leaves are blessed and distributed to church parishioners. That commemorates the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem, where it is said that his path was strewn with palms.
Thursday of Holy Week is the day of the Last Supper, the meal of bread and wine that Jesus shared with his disciples. The next day, Good Friday, is the day when Jesus was taken to be crucified.
You cannot have Mass on Good Friday, Moore said. It is a day of mourning. When they took him off the cross, they put him in his mothers arms. This is the basis of Michelangelos famous sculpture Pietà .
The Easter Vigil, which is the observance of his resurrection, begins on Holy Saturday at nightfall and ends on Easter Sunday at sunrise. Moore describes it as "a powerful feast.
What we eat at Easter depends a lot on the culture, Moore said. In Poland, they eat a braided bread, similar to challah. People bring it into the church to be blessed. In Ireland, of course, they would have potato bread.
America is a country of immigrants, so the Easter feast varies. Some eat eggs; there are cheeses, sausages. Traditionally we have roast lamb, but the menu varies according to the culture and whats available at the market. Its a springtime feast.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.