Easter is a Christian commemoration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that is celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox. Easter 2011 falls on Sunday, April 24th. Easter is the central religious feast in the Christian liturgical year, but is also celebrated by non-Christians too. Easter egg hunts, the Easter bunny, and candy are some longstanding Easter traditions. Read more about the holiday and see some facts about Easter on the left-hand side of the page!
The Religious Aspect of the Holiday
According to Christian scripture, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. Most Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Day or Easter Sunday.
Easter also refers to the season of the church year called Eastertide of the Easter Season. Traditionally the Easter season lasts 40 days from Easter Sunday until the Ascension Day. Easter also marks the end of Lent, which is a season of fasting and praying.
When is Easter?
Easter is a movable holiday, which simply means it is not fixed in relation to our civil calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date for Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon after the northern hemisphere's vernal equinox. Therefore, the date of Easter varies between March 22 and April 25.
Easter Customs: Now and Then
Many of our current Easter customs have been incorporated from the springtime fertility celebrations of European and Middle Easter pagan religions. Rabbits and eggs, for example, were widely-used pagan symbols for fertility. Christians view the egg as a symbol of joy and celebration. Lent is a time of fasting and sacrificing, and Easter is the Lent end's celebration. Remember, Lent is the time after Jesus' death and Easter is the celebration of his resurrection. So that is why Lent is a time of somberness and Easter is one of joy.
Traditions of the holiday today include visits to the Easter bunny and Easter egg hunts for both Christians and non-Christians. Children dye eggs to bright spring time colors and parents often give baskets of candy. Easter is a holiday of popular culture despite religion, but there are also some denominations of Christians who do not celebrate Easter.
Easter: A Little History
Easter is said to have come from Teutonic mythology and the name is said to derive from ''Eostre.'' Eostre was the ancient Greek goddess of spring who was said to return to Earth after a long and cold winter. The goddess returned to Earth, bringing with her the light and warmth of Spring. Ancient Greeks held pagan festivals to celebrate the coming of Eostre and spring. The festivals coincided with the vernal equinox on the 21st of March every year.
The Christian church changed the pagan festival from the celebration of spring to the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. The date of the festival was also changed by the church in 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicaea. There, they decided Easter would be celebrated on the very first Sunday following the full moon on or after the vernal equinox. And that is why Easter is celebrated on different dates each year.
*You can play ChaCha's EggHunter and find some wacky eggs in Quirkville. Txt EGGHUNTER to start. (NOTE: Some eggs PG13.)