The Easter Laugh (Risus paschalis) — Observe Holy Humour Sunday

joyfulRev. Weiser observes in The Easter Book that, “In the early days of Christianity, all of Easter Week was one continuous feast… a week of intense happiness and spiritual joy.” Easter Monday is known as the “Day of Joy and Laughter,” “Bright Monday,” “White Monday,” and “Emmaus Day.”)   The Joyful Noiseletter notes, “The custom was rooted in the musings of early church theologians (like Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom) that God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. “Risus paschalis – the Easter laugh,” the early theologians called it.” More specifically, some theologians suggest the festival was inspired by the famous Easter midnight sermon of John Chrysostom (344-407 A.D.), who described a vision of Christ confronting the devil and laughing at him.  Quoted on The Joyful Noiseletter website, one pastor noted, “God has a sense of humor. God has the last laugh and the last word. That word is Resurrection in Jesus Christ! He is Risen!”

In years past, countries populated by Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant Christians, joyful2observed Easter Monday as a day of special festivities. The festivities included: games, songs, dance, Emmaus walks in the country, picnics, pranks, practical jokes, and “drenching customs” — boys drenched girls with water, and the girls retaliated by drenching the boys.

In recent years, many Christians tried to “resurrect” Easter Monday as “the Day of Joy and Laugher” but found that the day after Easter was not the best day to observe the custom so they initiated “Holy Humour Sundays” on the First Sunday following Easter.  Some congregations have observed the day by:

  • distributing plastic Easter eggs – each containing a joke or cartoon
  • composing and performing hilarious skits
  • collecting percussion instruments and having worshippers use the clickers, clackers, dingers, dongers, tooters, shakers, rattlers  to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”
  • having “joy breaks” and “holy humor interruptions” during the worship service when church members rise and tell their own favorite jokes.
  • having youngsters dress in outlandish costumes.
  • pastors beginning their sermon by telling a joke
  • decorating the sanctuary with balloons and streamers.
  • hosting an ice cream social or party in the park for the neighbours

The Joyful Noiseletter website where you will find an extensive article in which congregational leaders share ideas/resources of how they have observed Holy Humour Sunday.

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