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The Origin of Easter Break

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The Origin of Easter Break

Jackie Drake, Staff Writer

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Easter break is coming up. For many of Marian’s students, this means a short respite from school, maybe an annual trip to church with the family, or spending time helping with a fun Easter egg hunt. For the Sisters who founded Marian College back in 1936, Easter “break” would have signified the end of Lent and the beginning of the celebration of the Resurrection, certainly a good reason to let students take a break from classes and focus on their religion.

Marian was founded with an embedded Catholic connection to the Lenten and Easter seasons, a feeling unmatched by many public colleges or universities. These schools might recognize the days of Holy Week but might not observe the religious practices which go along with them. Since the snowy Ash Wednesday last February, when dozens of Marian faculty, staff and students walked out of Dorcas Chapel with crosses marking their foreheads, a portion of the Marian community has been abstaining (from eating meat on Fridays), fasting, praying, and reflecting. Still, there exists a general attitude that the number of practicing Catholics on campus has decreased in the past decades.  This can be both a wonder and no surprise when one of Marian’s Core Values is Spiritual Traditions, meaning a value in Marian’s Catholic religious heritage and a respect for each individual’s freedom to explore a diversity of spiritual beliefs. This value basically tells students to keep in mind Marian was founded by Catholics, but it also welcomes religious freedom (which may include no religion at all, though this Core Value certainly encourages exploration).

Here’s some trivia: back in 1936, Marian College was founded by the Sisters of Saint Agnes because the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction did not allow public schools to foster religious dress. Religious freedom, including dress, is a hot topic in recent politics around the globe, and it is important to recall what Marian University was built on. Now, back to Easter break: let’s remember why we are having it.

Marian University will not hold classes from Thursday, April 13 to Monday the 17, and will be officially closed on Friday, April 14. In Christianity, these days are important because they are Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Monday, with Holy Saturday and the all-important Easter Sunday in the middle. That Thursday is recognized as the day of the Last Supper, or Jesus’ last communion with his disciples. Good Friday is the day Jesus died and was crucified, and the following Sunday is the day of Jesus’ resurrection into Heaven. You could say we will be getting classes off that Monday for good measure. If you are a practicing Christian or Roman Catholic, it is likely you will be attending mass on these days and praying, maybe also getting in a reconciliation before the new season begins. Lent has been meant to be a special time of reflection and prayer, but the Easter season will be just as demanding of your attention. Use your time off school to celebrate what made Christians Christians.

If you are not a practicing Catholic, Easter break is still for you. In the very least, you might thank the Sisters of Saint Agnes of over 80 years ago for establishing your Catholic school and landing you some seasonal time off of classes.

To everyone: enjoy your Easter break!

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The Origin of Easter Break