The Easter Season

resurrection icon
Icon of the Resurrection, St. Vladimir Institute Chapel, Toronto (Alexei Mezentsev, Iconographer, 2005)

The Easter season is the fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost. It is celebrated as a single joyful feast. Each Sunday of the season is a Sunday of Easter and, after the Sunday of the Resurrection, is named the Second Sunday of Easter, Third Sunday of Easter, etc.

Largely absent during Lent, the 'Alleluia', reappears and is used at both the greeting and farewell in the service.

The Gospel readings for the Easter season are the stories of Christ's resurrection appearances, ending with his ascension. White vestments and hangings are used to signal the celebratory season and the Paschal Candle is lit at every Eucharist.

The word 'Paschal' comes from the Hebrew Pesach which means Passover; it reminds us that the whole of the Easter season arises from the events of Holy Week. The Paschal Candle, lit at the first service of Easter, remains in a prominent position throughout the Easter season and is a sign of the risen Christ present in the Church. The candle is decorated with symbols of Christ — the Alpha and the Omega, for example. It also bears five nails to remind us of Jesus' five crucifixion wounds, in his feet, hands and side.

The Paschal Candle is lit at baptisms throughout the year. The newly-baptised are each given a candle lit from the Paschal Candle, as the minister says: "God has brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Shine as a light in the world to the glory of God the Father."

Forty days after Easter, Jesus ascended into heaven, which we celebrate at the feast of the Ascension. Jesus commanded he disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they were to receive the Holy Spirit of power, ten days later at Pentecost.