I have been presenting some information in this article about PASCHA – EASTER since we will be celebrating it for 40 days. The early church rejoiced in the event of the Resurrection. The new and principal day of worship of the Christians was the first day of the Jewish week (i.e., the day in which the Lord was raised from the dead). This is also the reason that during the Paschal season Sundays become the first day of the week and not the last. After we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, Sundays become the LAST DAY of the week.
The early Christians assembled on Sundays to celebrate the Eucharist, through which they proclaimed the Lord’s death and confessed his resurrection. Eventually they gave this day a Christian name, the Day of the Lord. It would be hard to imagine that the Christians of the first century would not have projected and connected in some new and significant way their weekly celebration of the sacred events of Christ’s death and resurrection with the annual observance of the Passover.
An interesting point in this connection is the emergence of the paschal fast and vigil. According to the earliest documents, Pascha is described as a nocturnal celebration with a long vigil, that was preceded by a fast. This suggests a very definite connection with the Jewish rites of the Passover, even though there is a distinct different of faith and rite between the Jewish and Christian observance. One such difference centers on the time of the celebration. The Jewish rite was an evening meal that ended at midnight while the Christian festival consisted of a long vigil that ended in the early dawn. It may well be that this delay was intentional, in order to distinguish the Christian night from the Jewish. Furthermore, the delay truly symbolized the fulfillment of the Passover by Christ, and thus signaled the transition from the old to the new Pascha. It has been suggested that this particular feature of the Paschal night prompted the persistent demand, which we encounter early on, that the Christian Pascha must come after the Jewish Passover. It always does on the Julian (Old) Calendar. This is not true with the Gregorian (New) Calendar. This is one reason why Orthodox Christians refuse to embrace the New Calendar for Easter.
According to the chronology of the Gospel of John, the Lord was crucified and buried on the day before the Passover and rose the day after. In the year we have come to number 33 C.E., the Passover fell on a Saturday. The crucifixion, therefore, occurred on Friday while the resurrection happened early Sunday morning. Eventually, the celebration of Pascha in the early Church would be predicted upon this chronology. In the beginning, the Christian Pascha was the occasion for the remembrance of the entire work of redemption, with a special reference to the Cross and the Resurrection. By the second century the churches of Asia Minor had come to observe Pascha on the 14 of Nisan.
I will continue to present information on the establishment of Pascha