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Easter is here, which means that Spring is in full bloom.  The days are getting longer and warmer.  New life is springing up all around us.  Be that lovely Spring flowers, newly hatched chicks calling for their mothers to feed them, or lambs in the fields.  We at the Varsity Hotel Cambridge always feel happy and optimistic at this time of year, and we hope you do too.


A Spring Festival

These days, everyone knows what and when Easter is.

It’s a springtime festival of renewal and rebirth.  A time when friends and family members exchange gifts of chocolate eggs covered in glitzy wrappers.  Or perhaps painted eggs.  Or even chocolate bunny rabbits.  We go on egg hunts and relay races.  And produce huge quantities of baked goods for consumption by the whole neighbourhood.

If this all sounds a little secular for the most important religious festival in the Christian calendar, well…it’s a sign of the times.  A combination of attempts by various Christian denominations to make religious festivals more approachable and fun.  And the crass overcommercialisation of our modern era.

In fact, Easter is the annual celebration of the sequence of events that underpin many of the key foundations of Christian Theology.  Christ’s Last Supper with his disciples – the men who would become the first generation of evangelists, spreading the nascent religion.  His arrest by the authorities.  His trial and execution via the Roman method of crucifixion.  Then the disappearance of his body from the tomb, and his resurrection and ascension to heaven.

If this all sounds a little morbid then you are correct.  None of the many books that make up the bible contain any mention of painted eggs or quasi-mystical rabbits.


When is Easter?

But if the traditions of Easter have been somewhat changed by time, then at least everyone knows when it occurs.  Or can at least easily find out.  So it might surprise some to know that this little detail caused huge disagreements with the early church.

The early thinking was quite simple and straight forwards.  Jesus was a Jew.  He was executed just after the Jewish religious festival of Passover.  So just take the Jewish calendar as a base and go from there.  Simple.  Right?

Actually, no.  Since while some sources claim he was executed after Passover and that “the Last Supper” was a Passover feast, others claim he died just as the lambs for that Passover feast were being slaughtered.  Then there was the later feeling that Christianity was its own religion and so should not be basing itself upon a Jewish calendar.

The result was that for centuries every different Christian community across the world tended to celebrate Easter at a time of its own choosing.  This offended the church’s central authorities sense of the universality of the young religion, resulting in literal centuries of debate, arguments and rulings to standardise the date.  To this day denominations such as the Orthodox church keep to their own schedule.  And all for a festival without a single chocolate egg in sight!

But we at the Varsity Hotel know when Easter is – Sunday April 17th.  We hope to see you then for lunch.