What is easter?

HotbotBy HotBotUpdated: June 19, 2024

Easter is one of the most significant celebrations in Christianity, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, as described in the New Testament. Observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox, Easter can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25. This event holds profound spiritual meaning and is accompanied by various customs and traditions that vary worldwide.

The Origins of Easter

The origins of Easter can be traced back to ancient times, long before the advent of Christianity. The term "Easter" itself is believed to derive from "Eostre," the name of a pre-Christian goddess in England, celebrated at the start of spring. However, the Christian celebration of Easter is intrinsically linked to the Jewish festival of Passover. The Last Supper, which Jesus shared with his disciples, was a Passover meal, and the events of his crucifixion and resurrection took place during Passover week.

The Significance of Easter in Christianity

For Christians, Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Jesus, preceded by Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The resurrection of Jesus is seen as the cornerstone of Christian faith, symbolizing victory over death and the promise of eternal life. This belief is succinctly captured in the words of the Apostle Paul: "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17).

Easter Traditions and Customs

Easter is celebrated with a variety of customs that differ from culture to culture. Here are some of the most common traditions:

Easter Eggs

The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection. The practice of decorating eggs dates back to at least the 13th century. Today, Easter eggs are often made of chocolate or plastic, filled with candy, and used in egg hunts for children.

Easter Bunny

The Easter Bunny is a popular folklore figure and symbol of Easter, depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. The origin of the Easter Bunny can be traced back to the 1700s in Germany, where it was known as "Osterhase" or "Oschter Haws," a hare that laid eggs for children to find. German immigrants brought this tradition to America, and it evolved into the modern-day Easter Bunny.

Good Friday and Holy Saturday

Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary. It is a day of mourning in the Christian calendar, often marked by services and processions. Holy Saturday, the day before Easter, is a time of vigil and reflection, awaiting the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.

Sunrise Services

Sunrise services are a common Easter tradition, symbolizing the empty tomb discovered early in the morning. These services often take place outdoors and are a poignant way to celebrate the resurrection as the sun rises, bringing light into the world.

Easter in Different Cultures

While Easter is universally significant in Christianity, its celebration varies widely across cultures and countries.

United States

In the United States, Easter is celebrated with a mix of religious and secular traditions. Church services, family gatherings, Easter egg hunts, and parades are common. One of the most famous events is the White House Easter Egg Roll, where children roll eggs down the White House lawn.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Easter is a significant holiday with traditions such as eating hot cross buns and giving chocolate eggs. Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, is marked by the monarch distributing Maundy money to senior citizens, a tradition that dates back to the 13th century.


In Italy, Easter (Pasqua) is celebrated with great enthusiasm. The Pope holds a large Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Traditional foods include lamb, artichokes, and a special Easter bread called "Colomba," shaped like a dove.


In Greece, Easter is the most important religious holiday. The celebrations include a midnight service on Holy Saturday, where the resurrection is proclaimed, and the faithful light candles from the Holy Flame. Traditional foods include lamb and "Tsoureki," a sweet Easter bread.

The Commercialization of Easter

Like many holidays, Easter has experienced a degree of commercialization. Retailers capitalize on the holiday by selling Easter-themed products such as chocolate bunnies, candy, and decorations. While this commercialization is often criticized for detracting from the religious significance of Easter, it also contributes to the festive atmosphere and brings people together in celebration.

Lesser-Known Easter Facts

There are numerous lesser-known facts about Easter that add depth to its rich history:

Paschal Full Moon

The date of Easter is determined by the Paschal Full Moon, the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This method was established by the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD to standardize the celebration of Easter.

Orthodox Easter

Eastern Orthodox Christians often celebrate Easter on a different date than Western Christians due to differences in calendars. The Orthodox Church uses the Julian calendar, while the Western Church follows the Gregorian calendar.

Pysanky Eggs

In Ukraine, "pysanky" eggs are a traditional Easter craft. These intricately decorated eggs are made using a wax-resist method and hold deep cultural and religious significance.

Easter Lilies

Easter Lilies, symbolizing purity and resurrection, are commonly used to decorate churches and homes during Easter. The tradition of using lilies dates back to the late 19th century in the United States.

As we delve into the multifaceted celebration of Easter, it becomes clear that this holiday is a rich tapestry of faith, tradition, and community. From its ancient roots and profound religious significance to the diverse customs and modern-day festivities, Easter continues to be a time of reflection and joy for millions around the world. Each aspect, whether well-known or obscure, contributes to the unique and enduring legacy of this springtime celebration.

Related Questions

Why does easter change every year?

Easter is a significant Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, as described in the New Testament. The date of Easter, unlike many other holidays, is not fixed and changes every year. This variability is due to a combination of historical, astronomical, and ecclesiastical factors.

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Where is easter island?

Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, is a remote volcanic island in Polynesia, situated in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. It is one of the world's most isolated inhabited islands. Geographically, Easter Island lies at coordinates 27.1127° S latitude and 109.3497° W longitude. This positions it approximately 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) west of Chile's mainland coast, and about 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) southeast of Tahiti.

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When is easter?

Easter is one of the most significant and celebrated holidays in Christianity, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Its date varies each year, and the determination of this date is based on a combination of solar and lunar calendars, along with ecclesiastical traditions. This article delves into the complexities and traditions surrounding the determination of Easter's date.

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What day is easter?

The question "What day is Easter?" may seem straightforward, but the answer is steeped in history, astronomy, and ecclesiastical tradition. Easter is not fixed to a specific date on the Gregorian or Julian calendar but is instead a movable feast.

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