April 14 is Palm Sunday, which is the beginning of Holy Week.
Palm Sunday gets its name from the event in the Bible where Jesus enters Jerusalem to crowds of people shouting praises to him and lining the road with palm fronds. This is symbolized with palms and processions in many Christian churches on Palm Sunday.
Other days with special names this week include Maundy Thursday, the day of Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples; Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified; and Holy Saturday, the between time of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.
You'll also hear the term passion, which is used to name the week and for the Passion play, a drama that commemorates the last week of Jesus’ life. Pascha is the Hebrew word for Passover, the Jewish observance that happens near Easter. Pascha is also used in Greek and Latin for Easter and is the root word for the French word for Easter: Pâques.
So how did we get to Easter as the English term?
Traditionally, people have depended on the writing of St. Bede from the late 600s and early 700s. He said the word comes from Eostre or Eostrae, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and fertility.
More recently, some say it comes from Easter week being called “in alibis.” The phrase is Latin and said to be the plural of alba, which means dawn. That became eostarum in Old High German, which then became Easter in modern German and English.
Joe Carter, writing for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2017, shared some additional word knowledge: “Maundy Thursday comes from the Latin word mandatum, which means commandment. The term refers to the commandment given by Jesus at the Last Supper: ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.’ (John 13:34)”
Some other facts from Carter's piece:
- Louisiana is one of 12 states that observes Good Friday as a state holiday.
- He says that in “The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived," authors Andreas Köstenberger and Justin Taylor contend that the actual date for the first Good Friday was Friday, April 3, and the first Easter was April 5, A.D. 33. Their theory is based on the reign of Tiberius, which is a time stamp for John the Baptist and thus Jesus’ ministries.
And here's a totally random just-for-fun Easter fact: Peeps used to take 27 hours to make.
“(Company) Just Born encountered Peeps for the first time in 1953 when it acquired Rodda Candy Company. While touring the factory, representatives of Just Born came across a group of women with pastry tubes making marshmallow Peeps by hand. Due to the long cooling process, Peeps took around 27 hours to make. By 1954, Just Born had automated the process, getting the time it takes to make a batch down to just six minutes,” so says Dailydot.com.
Sources: erlc.com/resource-library/articles/5-facts-about-good-friday-and-easter; history.com/topics/holidays/history-of-easter; cnn.com/2013/08/23/world/easter--holy-week-fast-facts/index.html; britannica.com/topic/Easter-holiday; dailydot.com/unclick/easter-interesting-facts/