Easter Vigil and Anzac Day Essay Example


Easter Vigil and Anzac Day

Easter Vigil and Anzac Day

A rite is a formal or ceremonial act or procedure that is prescribed or in customary and has religious or other solemn uses. In other words, a rite can be defined as a particular form or system of religious or other ceremonial practices. A ritual on the other hand refers to an order that has been prescribed on how an event should be carried out and encompasses a body of ceremonies or rites used in a place of worship when it comes to matters of religion. Whenever there is a rite that is performed through following rituals, there emerges a representative of all these processes by association, resemblance and convention which are always manifested in form of physical objects (Cooke and Gary, 2005). The main purpose of this research is to find out the importance of rites, rituals and symbols in sacred and secular places. In addition to that, the research also aims at finding out the place of rites, rituals and symbols when it comes to religious education. To achieve this, the research will utilize the photos of Easter Vigil and Anzac Day.

Objective statement

Objectives of this paper include:

  1. Analyzing selected images of Easter Vigil and Anzac Day so as to understand the importance of rites, rituals and symbols in sacred and secular places as presented in them.

  2. To find out what is the place of rites, rituals and symbols in religious education as brought out in selected images of Easter Vigil and Anzac Day.

Easter Vigil and Anzac Day

Easter Vigil refers to a process by which a new convert is prepared for baptism in Christian faith and is always done on Easter Sunday. The practice has evolved in modern times with introduction of new ideas on what rites, which rituals and what kinds of symbols are used. On the other hand, Anzac day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that is commemorated by both countries on 25th of April in an event that is aimed at honoring members of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Cooke and Gary, 2005). In this research, Easter Vigil will be used to represent religious believes and practices while Anzac day will represent beliefs and practices of those in the secular world.

The importance of rites, ritual and symbol in sacred and secular spaces

Easter Vigil and Anzac Day

Figure 1: Easter Vigil (Wendell) _5

The image above is a typical representation of what Easter Vigil event is all about. With a symbol of Jesus on the cross in the background and a representation of the top in the foreground, this serves to indicate to the believer the cost of discipleship and the burden that one has to bear. This is important because it serves as a background upon which faith of the new convert is grounded. The message brought out in the images serves as an emphasis on the rite of continuity of the church with the Old Testament’s prophets and with God. This helps in defining the nature of the church and its mission in the world and in the long run, a stronger foundation of the religion is laid (Cooke and Gary, 2005).

Easter Vigil and Anzac Day 1

Figure 2: Easter Vigil (Wendell)_169

Rituals are a very important part of this event and involve gospel readings that normally begin at sunrise on Sunday or at the end of Easter Vigil. As indicated in the image above, these believers are headed for a morning reading session of the event and the procession is normally in an orderly manner as shown above (Cooke and Gary, 2005).

Easter Vigil and Anzac Day 2

Figure 3: Easter Vigil_ (Wendell) _25

The image above shows lighting of a light candle in the beginning of the event at an early morning being done outdoor. In many cases, vigil event normally begins at sundown on Saturdays although most protestant churches have had a tendency of having it to start just before sunrise on Sunday and concluded after gospel readings. The event is normally accompanied by singing of praises. In more temperate climates, the event is normally carried out outdoors. In churches that observe a Service of Shadows on Good Friday, the Easter Vigil begins in darkness as a flame is lit which symbolizes light (Grimes, 2000). The event is then followed by the procession indicated in the image below.

Easter Vigil and Anzac Day 3

Figure 4: Easter Vigil (Wendell) _191

The event and the procession are important because they serve as a kind of initiation for the new convert. The move is to symbolize acceptance of the cross and salvation at large (Grimes, 2000). The event is then followed by lighting of candles as shown in the image below.

Easter Vigil and Anzac Day 4

Figure 5: Easter _ Vigil (Windell) _ 176

This is normally a Christ candle that is returned to the sanctuary or worshippers to symbolize the dawn of a new era and from it, all other candles are normally lit in darkness (Grimes, 2000). Some churches use a special Paschal Candle as a representative for this part of the service and from it; all worshippers light their candle as they sing songs of praise to mark the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. The next stage involves the use of anointed oil to symbolize that these are new converts who have now been anointed (Burns, 2006). The anointment oil is normally well arranged as shown in the image below.

Easter Vigil and Anzac Day 5

Figure 6; Easter Vigil_ (Wendell)_145

Anzac Day

On Anzac day, many rites that follow a particular procedure are normally done to mark remembrance of members of the Australian New Zealand Army corps. The process involves dawn services that were originally very simple and follow an operational ritual with restriction to veterans alone. The daytime ceremony is normally designed for families and other well-wishers while dawn service is for soldiers to remember and reflect about those whom they shared a special bond. This is also accompanied with symbols such as the wreath laying at the 2008 dawn service that is held at the Australian War Memorial at Hyde Park Corner in London as shown in the image below.

Easter Vigil and Anzac Day 6

Figure 7: Australian War Memorial Park

The procedure followed to ensure that this is orderly involve veterans gathering before dawn and being ordered to stand two minutes of silence in honor of those departed. The importance of this ritual is to ensure continuous bonding with those who passed on during the war (Burns, 2006). This indicates that rituals play a very important role of linking two groups of people in a secular world.

The image below shows an early morning at Anzac memorial park

Easter Vigil and Anzac Day 7

Figure 8: ANZAC memorial park

Recent years have seen modernization of the event to follow a pattern that is now familiar with many generations in Australia. The procedure involves an introduction, hymn, prayer, an address, laying of wreaths and recitation (Robinson, 1997). The image below shows flowers lying beside a soldier statute after marking of the ANZAC day.

Easter Vigil and Anzac Day 8

Figure 9: Laying of flowers

In addition, the event also involves playing of a song entitled «The Last Post», a minute of silence, «Reveille», and both New Zealand and Australian national anthems are played. Symbolically, families often place artificial red poppies beside names of relatives on the Memorial’s Roll of Honour while sprigs of rosemary are often worn on lapels and while in New Zealand poppies are used for this role. The events are normally followed by social gatherings of veterans in either in a public house or in an RSL club. A traditional Australian gambling game called two-up that was common pastime with ANZAC soldiers is symbolically used to evoke memories of the time. Although most Australian laws forbid gambling, “two up” game is normally played on Anzac day to symbolize remembrance (Lovat, 1995).

Easter Vigil and Anzac Day 9

Figure 10: Soldiers play «The Last Post» as they match to the memorial Park

The place of rites, rituals and symbols in religious education

Rites, rituals and symbols play an important role in religious education. This is because they show the actual relationship between a religion’s doctrine and its believers. Rites provide information to religious scholars on what a religion is composed of in terms of activities that guide its beliefs (McLaughlin, 2001). On the other hand, the place of rituals in religious education serve to inform learners about procedures followed when performing any event. These procedures are important in understanding what each religion stands for and the way all its activities are carried out. Rituals also serve as the main source of information concerning chronological changes of believes and practices in any given religion. Lastly, symbols are the physical representative of the inner feeling of a religion whether secular or sacred. Symbols are used particularly in understanding what is the inner manifestation of any religion especially in terms of believes in the power of physical objects (McLaughlin, 2001).


It can be noted that rites, rituals and symbols are a critical part of any religion that has followers. This is because of the need to ensure that there is an orderly procession of events in that religion. Easter Vigil and Anzac Day are two separate events that serve to show the connection that there is between rituals, rites, symbols and people in that religion. They also play an important role when it comes to understanding what the whole religion is all about therefore being relevant to religious scholars (McLaughlin, 2001).


Burns, S. (2006). Liturgy.
Norwich: Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd.

Cooke, B., and Gary, M. (2005). Christian symbol and ritual: An introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.

Grimes, R. L. (2000). Ritual. New Jersey: Prentice hall.

Lovat, T. (1995). Rituals. New Jersey: Prentice hall.

McLaughlin, S. (2001). Religion, ritual, and culture. New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell.

Robinson, G. (1997). Travels in Sacred places. New York: HarperCollins Religious.