Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

March 30, 2013

Stories behind ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’

(Continued)

LAKELAND — Easter Sunday

Easter wasn’t always Easter Sunday, either. For the first few centuries of Christianity, the Resurrection was celebrated on various days of the week. It was Constantine, the Roman emperor who converted to Christianity and made it the religion of the land, who helped move the Resurrection celebration to Sunday.

In the year 325 A.D., Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea, which determined numerous matters within Christianity. The council decided that Easter should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the first day of spring.

This is why some years, Easter is in late March — like this year, or late in April, or somewhere in between during other years.

Dogwoods

There is an Easter legend of the small but beautiful dogwood tree. In the days of Christ, this legend tells, the dogwood tree grew as thick, as tall, and as mighty as the oak. Its wood was perfect for building and carpentry.

Its wood was perfect for the Roman capital punishment of crucifixion. Romans used the wood of the dogwood tree for making solid crosses.

So, the tale goes, that a maker of crosses learned that he was to build a cross for a man whom many called the King of the Jews.

He ordered the wood be cut from an especially large dogwood.

The wood was so heavy and thick that the battered muscles of Jesus could not bear its weight as he walked to Golgotha, and Simon had to carry it for Him to Calvary.

In Jesus’ passing, the crossmaker discovered that his mighty dogwood trees had been diminished. Their strong, thick wood reduced to thin, gnarled trunks and limbs. Wood from dogwood trees would never bear such a burden again, but they would bear beautiful blossoms. White flowers, with red markings, which some say still to this day represent the bloodstains on that old, rugged cross of dogwood.

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