Keep the Feast: 50 Days of Easter

In the Anglican church we speak of Easter as a season and not just a day. The Easter season, or Eastertide, lasts for 50 days and takes us from Jesus’ resurrection to his ascension to the right hand of the Father and then concludes with the sending of the Holy Spirit to the Church the on the day of Pentecost (June 4). We are accustomed to celebrating a Christmas season, though not necessarily the 12 days of Christmas on the Church calendar, but what should we do during an Easter season that is four times as long as Christmas without all the same traditional ways of celebrating?

I’m of the opinion that it takes 50 days (at least) to unravel the meaning and implications of the resurrection in our lives. And we are called to find our understanding of the resurrection through joyful celebration and not the somber introspection of the Lenten season. I find that many Christians find it easier to believe that God is more pleased when we participate in a solemn fast than a joyful feast. But Easter is the biggest event of the Christian year and God calls us to celebrate with feasting. We are Easter People—without the resurrection we have nothing, our faith is futile (1 Cor. 15:17).

So what should our Easter celebration look like? In his eye-opening book on the resurrection, Surprised by Hope, N. T. Wright suggests, “[Easter] ought to be an eight-day festival, with champagne served after Morning Prayer or even before, with lots of alleluias and extra hymns and spectacular anthems. Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don’t throw our hats in the air?”

How does the resurrection change our lives? And why is it worth champagne toasts and loud songs of praise? We want to explore what Easter means and how we celebrate it over the next few weeks in a blog series called “Keep the Feast.” We hope to share ideas for celebrating Easter and deepen our understanding of what it means to live into the resurrection life that Jesus has made available to us. And we want to have fun and hear your ideas for celebrating Easter in your home, in worship, and in every place you go throughout the week.

Keeping the feast may look like special dinners when you finally use your good china or simple picnics in the company of good friends. It may mean extended Easter Egg hunts or springtime bike rides. It may mean fresh flowers in your house and chocolate on your desk for your co-workers. We are all learning the joyful way of Easter and in small ways, in the words of the poet Wendell Berry, we “practice resurrection.”