Reflection: Easter lasts 50 days

By Bosco Peters

“The Ascension” by Jesus Mafa, a response to the New Testament’s readings from the lectionary by a Christian community in Cameroon. Photo/Vanderbilt University

Easter is a season of 50 days. We are very good at Lent being 40 days (or so); we are less good at Easter being 50 days. Penance. Reflecting. Those, we can manage for a season. Celebrating, partying for a season — not so much.

In church every service has the Easter candle lit, and there are lots of alleluias. Those who pray the Daily Office, similarly, find lots of alleluias in your antiphons, maybe you use a special selection of Easter or festal psalms, and certainly Easter season readings.

Even Facebook has reduced the possible length of an “event” – I used to run a 50-days-of-Easter Facebook event, but, in this shortening-attention-span culture, Facebook does not allow for an event longer than two weeks!

Ask someone, “What is the Sunday after Easter?” and they might say the Second Sunday of Easter, Low Sunday; Station at St. Pancras; Thomas Sunday, Dominica in Albis [Depositis/Deponendis], Quasimodo, Divine Mercy, or the Octave Day of Easter. But those are titles for the Sunday after Easter Day.

If you account for the 50 days of Easter, then the Sunday after Easter is … Trinity Sunday, June 5 this year, the first Sunday after Pentecost.

Great Christian festivals begin in the evening after sunset, are celebrated through the day, and on into the next evening. But Easter begins in the evening with the Easter Vigil and is celebrated for 50 days as one long festival.

Easter is one-seventh of the year, the Great Sunday of the year. The “50 days” of the early church was set into church rule by the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Alleluias fill these 50 days (having fasted from Alleluia for the 40 days of Lent). The Easter (Paschal) Candle is lit throughout these 50 days.

So, how can we celebrate the 50 days of Easter better?

Some people add the “50 days” badge to their website or blog.

We could make far more use of a Service of Light throughout the 50 days of Easter. Daily, or on certain days, people might gather in church in the evening, to light the Paschal Candle and sing (at least sixteen centuries old) “Hail, Gladdening Light” or another hymn.

Thanksgiving for light may follow, incense may be used, and parts of Night Prayer, Evening Worship, or the Daily Services may be used.

Such a Service of Light, appropriately simplified, can form a very attractive focus for family prayer or prayer in a house group. A simple action with a candle could form, say, an evening devotion every day in the Easter season.

So, can you think of, or do you already have, simple rituals, ideas, ways to make the Easter season special at home, with children, etc.?

The Rev. Bosco Peters is retired and was most recently chaplain at Christ’s College, Canterbury (New Zealand). This article merges two posts on his blog Liturgy.

All content ©2022 by the Episcopal Journal & Cafe

The Episcopal Journal is a 501 (c) 3 corporation. Contributions are tax deductible.

Website design and management  by J T Quanbeck.