Easter traditions of local Christian faiths

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Christians throughout Utah have different Easter traditions, though each reverences the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. How Christians celebrate Easter often depends on their denomination.

Seventh-day Adventist Church

At Provo’s Seventh-day Adventist Church, Easter celebrations don’t include many elaborate ceremonies, according to the church’s community services director Linda Walton.

Each Adventist congregation can celebrate the way its members prefer, Walton said. Provo’s Adventist congregation celebrates Easter with a special service and a musical program during their regular meeting time. Sometimes there is a meal to follow.

“We will have a communion service, which is like a sacrament meeting, only it’s a little bit more than that,” Walton said.

The usual unleavened bread and grape juice is used for the service.

“We also have a foot-washing ceremony, which is similar to what Christ did with his disciples,” Walton said.

Before the communion service, members can wash each other’s feet. There are separate areas for men, women and married couples to participate. Men wash men’s feet, women wash women’s feet and spouses wash each other’s feet.

“It is very intimate; it’s probably even uncomfortable for some people to handle somebody else’s bare feet,” Walton said. “It is a humbling experience. To imagine that Christ did that to humans is just amazing.”

This communion service with the foot-washing ceremony is generally held quarterly, though each congregation can choose when to have it. The service is typically held on holidays or during a time of crisis to draw the congregation closer together.

The Provo congregation of Seventh-day Adventists do not incorporate secular traditions, such as the Easter bunny, as an organization, but individual families may do what they want, Walton said.

All Saints Episcopal Church
Members of the All Saints Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City participate in a service. To commemorate Easter, there are several services held during the Holy Week. (Brianna Lanclos)

Members of the All Saints Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City celebrate the entire Easter week, or Holy Week, according to parish coordinator Brianna Lanclos.

“Easter is a great celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus,” Lanclos said.

The celebrations begin with an evening service on Maundy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter when Christ washed his disciples’ feet, which is called “the Maundy.”

Maundy Thursday also commemorates the Last Supper and Christ’s last evening, according to Lanclos. Maundy Thursday includes a foot-washing service, the Eucharist and a meal to commemorate the last supper, called the Agape Feast.

After the service, a few members decorate a church area with plants, flowers and a fountain to represent the Garden of Gethsemane, Lanclos said.

An overnight vigil is held in the garden area, where church members stay up through the night.

“During this time they light candles, pray and meditate,” Lanclos said.

On Good Friday, there is a noon and evening service.

Members of the All Saints Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City worship together on Easter. This service concludes a week of celebration. (Brianna Lanclos)

A morning vigil ushers in the Easter Sunday traditions. A designated person reads Bible verses from Genesis through the Resurrection.

Later in the morning, the congregation holds a service with baptisms and an Easter sermon, complete with music, prayer and scripture readings.

“This service is one of our major ones and is more celebratory,” Lanclos said.

After the service, children hunt outside for Easter eggs, and adults enjoy a cup of coffee, Lanclos said.

Southern Baptist Evangelical
The All Saints Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City decorates for Holy Week by using Easter eggs. After the Easter service, children hunt for Easter eggs outside. (Brianna Lanclos)

BYU political science student Nathan Rogers is a member of the Southern Baptist Evangelical faith and the Cross Seekers Christian Fellowship club.

Rogers said members of his faith celebrate Easter by worshipping at church and enjoying an Easter feast.

“We celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the grave and the victory over sin and death he gave to us through faith in him,” Rogers said.

He also personally celebrates Easter with a tradition of service out of a reverence for the Savior’s sacrifice.

“I personally celebrate Easter by fellowshipping with other Christians, remembering that Christ has overcome my personal sin, how because of his sacrifice I have been counted Holy by God so that I may have eternal life,” Rogers said.

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