Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 5.djvu/271

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


EASTER

EASTER antiq. Eccl. rit., c. xxv, 5.) The Armenian Church during the entire time from Easter to Pentecost cele- brates the Resurrection alone to the exclusion of all feasts of the saints. On Easter Monday they keep All Souls' Day, the Saturday of the same week the Decollation of St. John, the third Sunday after Easter the founding of the first Christian Church on Sion and of the Church in general, the fifth Sunday the Appari- tion of the Holy Cross at Jerusalem, then on Thursday the Ascension of Christ, and the Sunday after the feast of the great Vision of St. Gregory. From Easter to Ascension the Armenians never fast nor do they ab- stain from meat (C. Tondini de Quaranghi, Calendrier de la Nation Arm^nienne). In the Mozarabic Rite of Spain, after the Pater Noster on Easter Day and dur- ing the week the priest intones the particula" Regnum" and sings " Vicit Leo de Tribu Juda radix David Al- leluja". The people answer: " Qui sedes super Cher- ubim radLx David. Alleluja". This is sung three times (Missale Mozarab.). In some cities of Spain before sunrise two processions leave the principal church; one with the image of Mary covered by a black veil; another with the Blessed Sacrament. The processions move on in silence until they meet at a predetermined place; then the veil is removed from the image of Mary and the clergy with the people sing the" ReginaCceli " (Gu^ranger, Kirchenjahr, VII, 166). For the sanctuary at Emmaus in the Holy Land the Holy See has approved a special feast on Easter Mon- day, " Solemnitas manifestationis D. N. I. Chr. Resurg., Titul.Eccles. dupl. I CI.", with proper Mass and Office (Cal. Rom. Seraph, in Terr® S. Custodia, 1907). Peculiar Customs of Easter Time. — 1. Risus Paschalis. — This strange custom originated in Ba- varia in the fifteenth century. The priest inserted in his sermon funny stories which would cause his hear- ers to laugh (Oslermiirlein) , e. g. a description of how the devil tries to keep the doors of hell locked against the descending Christ. Then the speaker would draw the moral from the story. This Easter laughter, giving rise to grave abuses of the word of God, was prohib- ited by Clement X (1(170-1676) and in the eighteenth century by Maximilian 111 and the bishops of Bavaria (Wagner, De llisu Paschali, Konigsberg, 1705; Linse- meier, Predigt in Deutschland, Munich, 1886). . Easier Eggs. — Because the use of eggs was for- bidden during Lent, they were brought to the table on Easter Day, coloured red to symbolize the Easter joy. This custom is found not only in the Latin but also in the Oriental Churches. The symbolic meaning of a new creation of mankind by Jesus risen from the dead was probably an invention of later times. The cus- tom may have its origin in paganism, for a great many pagan customs, celebrating the return of spring, gravitated to Easter. The egg is the emblem of the germinating life of early spring. Easter eggs, the children are told, come from Rome with the bells which on Thursday go to Rome and return Saturday morning. The sponsors in some countries give Easter eggs to their god-children. Coloured eggs are used by children at Easter in a sort of game which con- sists in testing the strength of the shells (Kraus, Real- Encyklopadie, s. v. Ei). Both coloured and uncol- oured eggs are used in some parts of the United States for this game, known as "egg-picking". Another practice is the "egg-rolling" by children on Easter Monday on the lawn of the White House in Washington. . The Easter Rabbit lays the eggs, for which reason they are hidden in a nest or in the garden. The rabbit is a pagan symbol and has always been an emblem of fertility (Simroek, Mythologie, 551). . In France handball plai/in;! was one of the Easter amusements, found al.^o in ( icrmany {•Simroek, op. cit., 575). The ball may rcpii'sciit the sun, which is be- lieved to take three leaps in rising on Easter morning. Bishops, priests, and monks, afterthestrictdiscipline of Lent, used to play ball during Easter week (Beleth, Expl. Div. off., 120). This was called Ubertas Decem- brica, because formerly in December the masters used to play ball with their servants, maids, and shepherds. The ball game was connected with a dance, in which even bishops and abbots took part. At Au.xerre, Besan^on, etc. the dance was performed in church to the strains of the "Victims; paschali". In England, also, the game of ball was a favourite Easter sport in which the municipal corporation engaged with due parade and dignity. And at Bury Si. Edmunds, with- in recent years, the game was kept up with great spirit by twelve old women. After the game and the dance a banquet was given, during which a homily on the feast was read. All these customs disappeared for obvious reasons (Kirchenle.x., IV, 1414). . On Easter Monday the women had a right to strike their husbands, on Tuesday the men struck their wives, as in December the servants scolded their masters. Husbands and wives did this " ut ostendant sese mutuo debere corrigere, ne illo tempore alter ab altero thori debitum exigat " (Beleth, I, c. crx; Dur- andus, I, c. vi, 86). In the northern parts of Eng- land the men parade the streets on Easter Sunday and claim the privilege of lifting every woman three times from the ground, receiving in payment a kiss or a silver sixpence. The same is done by the women to the men on the next day. In the Neumark (Ger- many) on Easter Day the men servants whip the maid servants with switches; on Monday the maids whip the men. They secure their release with Easter eggs. These customs are probably of pre-Christian origin (Reimsberg-Diiringsfeld, Das festliche Jahr, 118). . The Easter Fire is lit on the top of mountains (Easter mountain, Osterberg) and must be kindled from new fire, drawn from wood by friction {nodfyr); this is a custom of pagan origin in vogue all over Eu- rope, signifying the victory of spring over winter. The bishops issued severe edicts against the sacrilegious Easter fires (Cone. Germanicum, a. 742, c. v; Council of Lestines, a. 743, n. 15), but did not succeed in abol- ishing them everywhere. The Church adopted the observance into the Easter ceremonies, referring it to the fiery column in the desert and to the Resurrection of Christ; the new fire on Holy Saturday is drawn from flint, symbolizing the Resurrection of the Light of the World from the tomb closed by a stone (Missale Rom.). In some places a figure was thrown into the Easter fire, symbolizing winter, but to the Christians on the Rhine, in Tyrol and Bohemia, Judas the traitor (Reinsberg-Diiringsfeld, Das festliche Jahr, ir2sq.). . At Puy in France, from time immemorial to the tenth century, it was customary, when at the first psalm of Matins a canon was absent from the choir, for some of the canons and vicars, taking with them the processional cross and the holy water, to go to the house of the absentee, sing the " Ha-c Dies", sprinkle him with water, if he was still in bed, and lead him to the church. In punishment he had to give a breakfast to his conductors. A similar custom is found in the fifteenth century at Nantes and Angers, where it was prohibited by the diocesan synods in 1431 and 1448. In some parts of Germany parents and children try to surprise each other in bed on Easter morning to apply the health-givingswitches(Freyde, Osternindeutscher Sage, Sitte und Dichtung, 1893). . In both the Oriental and Latin Churches, it is customary to have those victuals which were prohib- ited during Lent blessed by the priests before eating them on Easter Day, especially meat, eggs, butter, and cheese (Ritualblicher, Paderborn, 1904; Maxi- milianus, Liturg. or., 117). Those who ate before the food was blessed, according to popular belief, were punished by God, sometimes instantaneously (Migne, Liturgie, s. v. Paques). . On the eve of Easter the homes arc blessed (Rit. Rom., tit. 8, c. iv) in memory of the passing of the angel in Egypt and the signing of the door-posts