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how to celebrate 50 days of Easter?

This is not some sort of trick question where I actually know the answer or have strong opinions but I’m hiding them…

How can we celebrate the Easter Season better? Let’s work out together some creative ways that we can celebrate the 50 days of the Easter Season at home, in a flat, with a family…

In Advent many homes will have an Advent wreath and devotions around it, for the Christmas Season we have the Christmas Tree and a Christmas crib set,… What ideas do we have, what traditions can we develop, for the Easter Season?

I write about the Easter Season here. This includes trying to think through some ways that we can translate the season, which originates in the Northern Hemisphere

We in the southern hemisphere could make far more use of a Service of Light throughout the fifty days of Easter. Daily, or on certain days, people might gather in church in the evening, to light the Paschal Candle and sing the (at least sixteen centuries old) “Hail gladdening Light” (Phos Hilaron ?] page 175) or another hymn. Thanksgiving for light may follow, incense may be used (Ps 141:2), and parts of Night Prayer, Evening Worship, or the Daily Services may be used. Such a Service of Light, appropriately simplified, can form a very attractive focus for family prayer or prayer in a house group.

That includes my suggestion that a simple action with a candle could form, say, an evening devotion every day in the Easter Season.

In church every service has the Easter candle lit, and there are lots of Alleluias. Those who pray the Daily Office, similarly, find lots of Alleluias in your antiphons, maybe you use a special selection of Easter or festal psalms, and certainly Easter Season readings.

So, can you think of, or do you already have, simple rituals, ideas, ways to make the Easter Season special at home, with children, etc.? Ideas that would work in both hemispheres? Ideas that would work particularly in the Southern or in the Northern hemisphere?

And while you are at it, please join the facebook “event” Easter is 50 days – and encourage your friends to join also.

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20 Responses to how to celebrate 50 days of Easter?

  1. I’m glad I saw this! I never thought of celebrating the days after Easter in the way we celebrate Christmas til 3 Kings’ Day. Love the idea!

    Maybe it’s a good chance to study what Christ did during his post-Easter time on Earth; pray & meditate on His actions, see what others have written on the subject; ask God to show us how we can imitate His Son in those specific ways.

    For myself, I may put myself in Thomas’ sandals for a while, & see if I can work at believing without seeing first. 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment. I’ve been disappointed by there being so few ideas added to mine, so thanks. So, yes – they aren’t “the days after Easter” – they are the days of Easter. I think you are right on with some of the ideas you present. Also: I know who you are, the preference here is that you use your name – happy for that to link to your site. Easter Season blessings to you.

  2. Do you know, I’m so used to going by mousewords (even my sis calls me that in person) that I didn’t think to put my name! 🙂

    “Easter Season” sounds beautiful. You’ve given me lots of food for thought about a space on the calendar I never paid much attention to.

    Blessings to you & yours!

    • Thanks, Christine. I knew who you were 🙂 Some blog sites get very heated. Here we’ve managed to develop a culture of, even if we disagree with each other, we do it mostly respectfully. I think part of that culture is that people say who they are. Only one or two people who are anonymous for particular, appropriate reasons.

      I’m pleased the idea of the Easter Season is so positive for you. I wish that people could be more creative about it here. I regularly end emails with reference to it: “Easter Season blessings…” or “Christ is risen!” There must be other ideas, like that, that people have. Easter Season blessings to you and yours!

  3. Bosco, you and I discussed this a little by e-mail, and I confess it’s taken me nearly all the 50 Days to come up with my own answers. I’ll send you my wordy essay, but here’s a short version.

    Principle 1:

    Easter–>Ascension–>Pentecost. It’s all one season. In the USA we tend to gloss over Ascension because it’s on a Thursday. Then we try to make up for that the following Sunday, Easter 7 “after Ascension Day.” By failing to connect these three major feasts, we dissolve into the belief that Easter’s a one-off, while nags (priests mostly) try to cajole us into “it’s 50 Days long.” Stop neglecting Ascension and we’ll do much better.

    Principle 2: Every home should have a Paschal candle. That’s right, a big, decorated Easter flamer. They’re not just for church; we don’t live at church. They’re for home, set on a stand in the dining room. Light the candle, read the Collect of the Day (or of Sunday) and eat. Those so inclined can add Phos hilaron and some psalms.

    Principle 3: The U.S. church does a much better job with Pentecost than we used to, thanks to the ’79 BCP. We all wear red that Sunday, not just the clergy. It’s springtime here so we might have a strawberry festival; strawberries are red. We finally get how important Pentecost is, after centuries of Sundays “after Trinity.” Anything that marks the 50 days is good. But they’re connected, one long feast, Easter–>Ascension–>Pentecost.

    Principle 4: As you said, it’s up to us to invent this stuff through dialogue and experimentation. What works the best for local people will spread worldwide; that’s how it’s always happened. The Church grows organically.

    Thank you for your international leadership on this and other issues.

    josh

    • Thanks, Josh! This is exactly the sort of response I was hoping for – and more of them. Isn’t it interesting that a minor, slightly controversial post will get lots of comments, but something life-transforming like living the resurrection in daily life, gets far less. People: click on the link to Josh’s site – he’s a leader in getting us all to pray the Office. The Office also has a special flavour during Easter.

  4. I have surely enjoyed discovering The Great Fifty Days this year through Josh and a couple other sources. I was so surprised and grateful that he took my question seriously, “HOW do you celebrate Easter for 50 days?” So good to read the various ideas that came up. I even heard of having champagne for breakfast, but there would go my day–I’d just go back to bed! Anyway, you mentioned something in your article that related to another question I have. Can you direct me to what particular writing(s) of the early church indicate that they celebrated it for 50 days. Just curious.

    • I guess the most obvious one, Stephanie, would be the shock that some (many?) bishops had when they met for the Council of Nicaea when they found out some people knelt to pray during the 50 days of the Easter Season. Canon 20 of that Council instructs all to pray standing during the 50 days of the Easter Season. Christ is risen!

  5. So, kneeling was their usual way and they were told to stand because it was during the 50 days? If I look up the Council of Nicea and dig around a little, can I find this reference? You said that this is the most obvious reference. Are most of the references similar–in the context of the church service or meetings? Anything beyond that?

    My questions are not to challenge. I have been in nontraditional churches for most of my Christian life (including my present church), with the exception of my time in Messianic Judaism, which of course was traditional from the standpoint of Judaism. But, underneath all my non-traditionalism, I have always had a small interest in church history. Then, contact with you Anglican/Episcopalians really stirred the pot and I find myself doing the daily office at dailyoffice.org and reading church history books for pleasure!

    But, along the lines of my nontraditional context, if I am talking to my friends about the Great Fifty days and saying that this is what the early church did, etc. etc.–I want to be sure I have my facts straight.

    One last question–unrelated. I notice you have the scheduled Torah readings on the bottom corner of the page. I love it, but why do you do that? If the answer to that is somewhere else on your website, just refer me to it.

    Thanks for your time!

    • It’s Sunday morning here, Stephanie, and I’m about to go to church, so I cannot do the research required for a fuller response. When you read Canon 20 of Nicaea you will see the 50 days called “Pentecost”. Pentecost was another term for the 50 days of the Easter Season. So in the early church the Season of Pentecost did not follow the Day of Pentecost, it preceded it. I suspect, with that in mind, you might be able to more easily find references in your early church reading. There may also be more on this site that you haven’t yet found with the search boxes.

      When you say “kneeling was their usual way”, I’m not sure if you are visualising a uniformity. Canon 20 is to stand praying on Sundays and during the 50 days of the Easter Season (“Pentecost”) – they state the intention is that uniformity follow. Uniformity was lacking prior to this.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “the bottom corner of the page”. Maybe you mean from time to time I refer to the Sabbath Torah reading. This is part of a way of reading the whole Bible in three years that I have been supporting here. I’m also fascinated by the way Jewish liturgy influences (and influenced) and could influence Christian liturgy.

      Blessings.

  6. Thanks so much for taking time to write before going to church. I will look up Canon 20 of Nicaea. I will also look more into your website as I am sure there is much for me to learn.

    I love your statement “…Jewish liturgy influences (and influenced) and could influence Christian liturgy.” That would be very interesting to explore. (Right under this box I am writing in is the Torah reading for the day. It is always seems to be there and it always warms my heart to see it!)

    I confess that I don’t really understand how the season of Pentecost/Easter could precede Easter day? That would be during Lent.

    Thanks for your help.
    I hope you are having a good Sunday!

    • In my rush to reply, Stephanie, I put “Easter Day” rather than the Day of Pentecost – I’ve corrected that now. We can tend to think of the Season of Pentecost as following the Day of Pentecost. In the early church the word “Pentecost” as a season referred to the days between Easter Day and the Day of Pentecost. That’s important to know, so that when you read early texts, some might miss that actually the author is referring to the Easter Season.

      The Torah reading is just the post that follows this one you are responding to.

      I just quickly searched for Easter Season in the early church. The following came up: here, here, here, here, and here.

      Blessings

  7. Oh! Okay, that makes lots of sense. I am glad you pointed that out because I could have missed the reference to the season of Easter not knowing it was also called (the season of)Pentecost by the early church. Thanks!

    I also see what you mean about the Torah reading. Awesome that you do that. I am now trying to get out the door for church(!) so will explore that aspect of your website later.

    Thanks for all the links on Easter in the early church. I have bookmarked them all and will enjoy reading them. Thanks for getting me started.

    I appreciate the time you have taken. You have a great website here, Father Peters, and I will enjoy learning from it.

  8. I am almost cross-eyed from reading all the links you graciously gave me and more! Very good reading. Thank you. I tried really hard NOT to have any questions for you, but I do have one. There seems to be much similarity from one write-up to the other, the words often identical in various sections. Good to have consistency, but I am wondering if there is a document they are all drawing from? If there is, do you have any idea what that document could be? This is particularly true when they refer to the early Christians actually celebrating Pascha, a Christian Passover. I would love to know where this information was obtained. (Here is a link to one–read the second paragraph. http://www.trinitysheraden.com/Easter.htm )Any ideas?

    Fr.Peter, thanks in advance for your consideration, but I truly don’t mind if you are too busy to answer.

  9. Just count the Omer. Why come up with some kind of special “Christian” thing to do? Counting the Omer is a wonderful way of preparing oneself for the giving of Torah or the giving of the Holy Spirit, just as Easter is a perfect time to celebrate the end of Egyptian slavery as well as slavery to death and sin. Pesach and Shavout are linked in the same way that Easter and Pentecost are linked. These things go together. The time between is a time of preparation. Go see your rabbi, learn how to count the omer, you’ll be fine.

    • Thanks, Linda. I advocate counting the Omer here. Not everyone is privileged to have a rabbi nearby to go and see. I still think it fine to have other practices alongside counting the Omer, just as I think there is more going on than the Easter Season being merely a time of preparation. Blessings.

  10. I would like to thank everyone especially you Josh I never considered acknowledgeing the 50 days after Easter. I was the website for prayer but I have learned so much more. Thank you for your service

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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