Did you know…? Easter
Our Lord died at the Jewish feast of the Passover or pesach, so Easter is called Pascha by the Greeks and Rumanians, Pasqua in Italy, Pascua in Spain and Portugal, Pâque in France, Paskir in Norway, and Paaske in Denmark.
The English word Easter and the German word Ostern come from Eostur or Ostara which to Norsemen meant the season of the rising sun, the season of new birth. (It is also where we get our word east from, meaning the place where the sun rises.)
The Easter Sequence (called the Victimæ Paschali) is said or sung immediately before the Gospel at Mass on Easter Sunday and on each day of the Easter Octave (the eight days of Easter from Easter Sunday to Low Sunday inclusive). It was written in about A.D. 1030 by a priest called Wipo who was the chaplain to the court of Emperor Conrad.
Christians, to the Paschal Victim offer sacrifice and praise. The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb; and Christ, the undefiled, hath sinners to the Father reconciled. Death with life contended: combat strangely ended! Life’s own Champion slain, yet lives to reign. Tell us, Mary: say what thou didst see upon the way. The tomb the Living did enclose; I saw Christ’s glory as He rose! Ther angels there attesting; shroud with grave-clothes resting. Christ, my hope, has risen: he goes before you into Galilee. That Christ is truly risen from the dead we know. Victorious King, thy mercy show! Amen.
Because Jesus is the Lamb who died for us on the Cross on Good Friday (“Behold the Lamb of God”, said St John the Baptist when Our Lord first appeared), it is usual for roast Lamb to be the main dish for lunch or dinner on Easter Sunday.
Just as a chick hatches out of the egg, so Christ broke forth from the tomb when He rose from the dead. In Britain we give each other chocolate eggs but in some places they still decorate hard boiled eggs, or have egg decorating competitions, or roll eggs down hills in a race. There is even a special blessing for Easter eggs (although this is probably meant for chicks’ eggs rather than chocolate ones!)
The Angelus and the Regina Cæli
Instead of saying the Angelus in the middle of the day, everyone usually says the Regina Cæli during the whole of Eastertide:
Regina cæli lætare, alleluia! Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia!
Resurrexit, sicut dixit. Alleluia! Ora pro nobis Deum. Alleluia!
Which means, Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia! For He whom thou didst merit to bear, alleluia! Has risen as He said, alleluia! Pray for us to God, alleluia!