Once we get through February we know we are on the upside heading for spring.
For some reason, many folks find February a pretty depressing month. Even though we haven’t really had a real winter, just a few days here and there, everyone is still eager for the change of season. We just want warming sunshine, blooming flowers, singing birds, budding trees… We still have quite a way to go before we see all that.
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Easter is the true signal of spring – to me anyway. There is a lot we have to deal with before that. Did everyone eat their fill of pancakes, yesterday? Most churches, schools and organizations celebrated Shrove Tuesday with a stack or two of the yummy treat. Today is Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent, which, this year, runs from February 26 to April 9. Lent is the reason we have Pancake Day.
Shrove Tuesday started as a way to use up all the food stuffs such as sweets, dairy, eggs and meat, “foods that give undue pleasure,” which were not to be eaten during Lent, a time of sacrifice, repentance, self-examination, prayer and fasting, in preparation for Holy Week and Easter. The date of Easter, the moveable feast, is determined according to a complicated computation dealing with the cycle of the moon. You know me and computations so I leave it up to smart people to figure it out.
There are different festivities and observances of Shrove Tuesday and Lent, depending on your belief system. Lent commemorates the 40 days of Jesus’ fast in the desert. Most Christians observe 40 days of Lent, not counting Sundays, but this can vary depending on the denomination and country.
Today most of us don’t sacrifice quite to the same level as they used to. We don’t usually eliminate meat, eggs and dairy, instead giving up one or two things that we regard as treats like chocolate, maybe wine, chewing gum, soft drinks, etc. Not quite the same painful resolve as in ancient times but the symbolism is still there. If it encourages us to be more aware of our faults, shortcomings, failings and weaknesses and creates a determination to do better, it’s all good. A few extra prayers and maybe some more charitable works would also be a good thing.
In my church the Lenten observance ends Holy Thursday but for other denominations it encompasses Holy Week and Good Friday, ending on Holy Saturday, the Easter Vigil. Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, representing the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Holy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper when Jesus offered his disciples bread and wine, the divine origin of the Eucharist. Good Friday recalls the crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus, followed by Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil honouring the resurrection.
On Easter Sunday we joyfully glorify the Lord with renewed appreciation and love for a God who died to save us and has risen again. We feast with loved ones, share family customs and traditions based in faith. Did you know Easter eggs symbolize the empty tomb and the lily represents the resurrection?
Easter Monday is the first day of Eastertide which runs for 50 days from Easter Sunday until Pentecost Sunday when we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. Pentecost is also a moveable feast since it depends on the date of Easter. It signifies the end of the Easter season or Eastertide. We wear red to show joy and the fire of the Holy Spirit giving us the courage and strength to live our commitment faithfully and freely.
I know not everyone believes as I do and that is OK. Do your own thing just do it well and with respect to others. Some of us were born and raised in a faith and it is just part of who we are. I am not trying to convert anyone or be too preachy, just sharing something that works for me and brings me joy.
You may not do the church thing but I know y’all do the chocolate Easter egg thing, right?