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International Holiday Summary Sheet

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Easter/Resurrection Sunday (March or April)

© Dr. Harvey Taylor

Easter itself is the 1st Sunday after the 1st full moon after March 21st (the beginning of Spring), but many people include the preceding Thursday and Friday in their celebration, as well as the 39th day afterward.

1) This holiday began in about 30 A.D. when Jesus Christ died and was “resurrected” (came alive again). The following points describe the main events that took place (in Jerusalem, Israel) according to the Bible. At the bottom you will learn about other modern Easter traditions.


2) When Jesus was about 33 years old, one Thursday evening he ate a special Jewish meal with his 12 best friends (his “followers” or “disciples”). Most Christians call this “The Last Supper” since it was the last meal Jesus ate with these men before he died.

3) One of the men who ate this last supper was named Judas. He kept the bag that held the money for the group. Judas, however, would often steal money from the bag to use for himself.

4) At the supper Jesus said that one of those eating with him would turn against him and help his enemies. Jesus then told Judas to go and quickly do what he wanted to do. The other disciples thought that Jesus was telling Judas to buy something or to give some money to poor people.

5) But Judas had already told the Jewish leaders that he would help them catch Jesus, and so they had given him some money. He left the supper early to guide them. (This is why anyone who turns against a friend is called “a Judas.”)


6) Jesus often went with his 12 disciples to a big garden. Judas brought soldiers to that garden so they could catch Jesus. From the garden the soldiers took Jesus first to one group of leaders and then to some others.

7) The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem hated Jesus. They wanted him to be killed the Roman way. Roman soldiers nailed non-Roman criminals to a wooden cross and left them there until they died, but only the Roman Government could sentence someone to this horrible death.

8) So the Jewish leaders took Jesus to the Roman governor named Pilate. They told the people to call out, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

9) Pilate knew that Jesus had not done anything wrong deserving a death penalty. He wanted to let Jesus go free, but someone shouted that if Pilate let Jesus go, Pilate would be helping an enemy of the Roman Government. So Pilate agreed to have Jesus severely beaten and then crucified (to be nailed to a wooden cross to die).

10) The soldiers made Jesus walk from the city carrying his own cross. Jesus’ mother Mary and many other people followed Jesus to a hill. There the Romans crucified Jesus between two criminals on their crosses.

11) Then, even though it was in the afternoon, the sky suddenly became dark. Jesus called to God his father, and in a loud voice said that he was giving his spirit into God’s hands. Then Jesus died.


12) Two other friends of Jesus took Jesus’ body down from the cross. They wrapped it in some cloth and put it in a small cave (or tomb). Mary and other women watched while soldiers rolled a large stone across the front of the cave.

13) Jesus had said that after he died, he would come alive again. So the Jewish leaders told Pilate that Jesus’ disciples might steal his body and then say that he was alive again. Therefore, Roman soldiers watched the cave.

14) Why is it called “good” Friday? Jesus died so God could forgive the sins of the people in the world. For this reason his death was good for other people. Christians of all kinds now call this day “Good Friday.”


15) Two days after Good Friday is Easter Sunday. The story of this Sunday begins early in the morning with an earthquake. Then an angel came from heaven and rolled the stone away from the front of the cave.

16) When the Roman guards saw that the cave was open and empty, they went and told the Jewish leaders what had happened. The leaders gave the soldiers a large amount of money so they would say that Jesus’ disciples had taken Jesus’ body away while the guards were asleep.

17) A little later some women came to the cave. When they saw the angel, they were afraid. He told them not to be afraid. He knew they were looking for Jesus, but Jesus had come alive again. He had been resurrected.

18) The angel told them to go quickly and tell his disciples that Jesus was alive and would meet them. Over the next few weeks Jesus was seen by many of his followers. He taught them many things about the future.

19) In many languages of the world, the day of Jesus’ resurrection is called “Resurrection Sunday.” It remembers the greatest miracle in the Christian teaching — the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But in English it is usually called “Easter Sunday.”

20) True Christians believe that this event actually happened. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity has no real meaning. So this is the most important day of the year for Christians.

21) One day, about five weeks after his resurrection, Jesus was talking with many of his followers. While he was talking to them, he went up into the sky — he “ascended into heaven.” And so, Christians around the world celebrate the 39th day after Jesus’ resurrection as his “Ascension Day.”


22) Easter in North America and Europe has both Christian beliefs and many non-religious customs. It is a happy Christian holiday mixed with other modern customs that are not Christian.

23) Some early Christians thought that the hatching of a hen’s egg was like the resurrection of Jesus from the cave. So on Easter Sunday boiled eggs can have that special Christian meaning.

24) But most Easter eggs have no Christian meaning. Stores sell Easter eggs made of chocolate or colored candy. Children in many countries color boiled eggs just for fun. Pictures show an “Easter Rabbit” bringing colored eggs to homes on Easter morning.

25) Both Christians and non-Christians send Easter greeting cards. Many cards have pictures or words about the resurrection, an empty cross, the women at the empty cave, etc. Other cards are about Easter rabbits, colored eggs, baby chickens, and spring flowers.

26) On Easter Sunday children will look for colored eggs and eat candy, while adults will buy spring flowers, wear new clothes, and enjoy the warm sunny weather. And people around the world will sing Christian songs during this special Easter holiday season.



(Other Easter resources: Easter for Kids 中文; Easter for Kids (English); article about The Passion--with Emperor Kangxi's poem)


Note to teachers: This holiday summary is © Dr. Harvey Taylor; used here with permission. Dr. Taylor is the author of “Special Days - Special Ways: Western Holidays, Customs, Culture.” This teaching resource contains two textbooks and a video tape with 20 programs, produced at the request of the China TV Teacher’s College, and designed to be the cultural component of a 3-year middle school English teachers’ video course. These resources are available in China. Dr. Taylor's most recent teaching position in China was at Kunming University, and he now provides consulting for other professionals located in Yunnan (you can reach him by writing to me).


Permission granted to reproduce this sheet for classroom use.

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