Easter is the main church holiday for all Christian denominations. Nevertheless, there are significant differences between Orthodox and Catholic Easter, which lie both in the definition of the date of the holiday, and in individual symbols and traditions.
The word "Easter" in European languages is a variant of the Latin Pascha, derived from the Hebrew pesach (transition). The fact is that the Jewish Passover was originally a holiday of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Only later began to celebrate Christian Easter - the Bright Resurrection of Christ. The Germans call Easter Ostern, and the British call Easter. Both of these names are derived from the name of the ancient German goddess of spring Eostro (Ostara). Therefore, Catholic Easter carries an additional meaning, being also a holiday of the spring rebirth of nature.
Currently, Western Christendom adheres to the Gregorian calendar. Catholics celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox. The discrepancy between the dates of the celebration of Catholic and Orthodox Easter can be one, four or five weeks, although in some years they may coincide. Just like the Orthodox Christians, the Catholics are preceded by a 40-day Lent, followed by Palm Sunday and Holy Week.
On the morning of Holy Saturday, the clergy bless fire and water. A new fire is received with the help of a chair and carried to homes, lighting Easter candles from it. It is believed that the wax of the Easter candle serves as protection from evil forces. Like the Orthodox, the Catholics have painted eggs as a symbol of Easter. In the countries of Western Europe, preference is given to eggs of red color without a pattern, in Central Europe they are richly decorated with all kinds of ornaments.
Eggs and other ritual foods are also blessed on Saturday. Vigil is served on the same evening. On Easter morning, all kinds of egg dishes are served on the table, as well as meat dishes and freshly baked white bread. European housewives put colorful eggs, chocolate bunnies and toy chickens in wicker baskets. Throughout Easter week, holiday baskets sit on the table by the door. I must say that in the West they prefer not real, but chocolate or souvenir eggs.
One of the symbols of Catholic Easter is a hare or a rabbit that brings Easter gift baskets to children. According to an ancient pagan legend, the goddess of spring Estra turned one of the birds into a hare, but he still continued to lay eggs. It was he who became the Easter bunny. During Easter week, biblical performances are played on the streets of Western European cities, and organ music is played in Catholic churches.