It celebrates Jesus Christ’s Resurrection three days following his crucifixion. For most Christian groups, Easter marks the completion of the Lenten season of penitence and fasting. The earliest known Easter celebration dates from the 2nd century, while it is probable that even the first Christians observed the Resurrection, a basic component of the faith.
Why Celebrate Easter?
For Christians, Easter is a joyous occasion because it is a manifestation of Old Testament prophecies and the unveiling of God’s purpose of salvation for all mankind. By honoring the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Easter recognizes the triumph of life over death and that there is hope in salvation. According to Christian teachings, Jesus’ death atoned for the sins of mankind, and thus Resurrection signifies the hope of Resurrection for every Christian.
When is Easter Celebration?
In 325AD, the Council of Nicaea set the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox (March 21) to be Easter. Thus, Easter might fall on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25, depending on the year. Eastern Orthodox churches make use of a Julian calendar-based calculation that differs somewhat. Thus, Orthodox Easter is often observed later than Roman Catholic or Protestant Easter. Easter was celebrated in the United States on April 17, 2022. The calendar for Holy Week is shown below.
- Palm Sunday
This refers to the Sunday prior to Easter Sunday. It marks the beginning of the Holy Week, and it celebrates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on a donkey. He was surrounded by the city’s residents, who laid palm branches on his path as they greeted him. Roman Catholic and Anglican churches use tiny palm leaves in memory of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. In honor of their faith, some Christians keep palm leaves in their homes throughout the year.
- Maundy Thursday
This refers to the Thursday before Easter. On this day, Christians commemorate the Passover dinner that Jesus shared with his followers, breaking bread and drinking wine. The meal is referred to as the Last Supper. Most Christians commemorate the Last Supper by taking part in the Holy Communion, Eucharist, or Mass, where bread and wine are shared among the congregants. The Holy Communion is done in remembrance that Jesus sacrificed his for the sake of humanity.
- Good Friday
This refers to the Friday prior to Easter Sunday. It celebrates the execution of Jesus through Crucifixion. In the church, Good Friday is usually a mourning day. In particular Good Friday services, Christians think back on the agony and death faced by Jesus on the cross and the consequence of that to their faith. In certain countries, unique Good Friday processions or crucifixion re-enactments are held.
- Easter Sunday
Easter Sunday marks the anniversary of Jesus’ Resurrection. After being crucified on Friday, Jesus’ body was brought down from the cross and buried in a subterranean tomb. A large stone barred the entrance to the tomb, which was guarded by Roman soldiers.
Mary Magdalene and a handful of Jesus’ disciples paid their respects at the tomb on Sunday. The stone had shifted, and Jesus’ body had vanished. Many people saw Jesus throughout the next forty days, including Mary and the disciples. God had raised Jesus from the grave, and his people recognized it. By Christians, this is known as the Resurrection.
Christian Meaning of Easter
In Christianity, the triumph of Jesus Christ over death is the central theme of Easter. His Resurrection signifies the gift of eternal life to all who believe in Him. Easter also serves as a complete affirmation of what Jesus taught and proclaimed during His three-year mission. He would have been regarded as just another teacher or prophet if he did not raise from the dead. His Resurrection, on the other hand, refuted all of this, providing definitive and irrefutable evidence that He was truly the Son of God and that He had triumphed over death once and for all.
The Story of Jesus and Easter
Christian faith revolves around Jesus Chris’s Resurrection from the dead. According to Saint Paul, Christian preaching and hope will be in vain until Christ is raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:14). Without the Resurrection, Christian faith and teachings would be invalid. The apostles of Christ would have continued their work as the dejected group depicted in John’s Gospel as hiding from the Jews. They were hopeless until they encountered the rising Christ (John 20:19). They then felt Christ’s nail and spear wounds, and they drank and ate with Him. Resurrection establishes Jesus of Nazareth as the King of a new Jerusalem: new earth and heaven, as well as the prophesied Messiah of Israel.
Easter with a Bunny?
The Easter Bunny’s origins can be traced back to Germany in the 13th century. The Teutons, a Germanic people, worshipped pagan gods and goddesses. Eostra (also known as Ostara or Eostre) was one of these goddesses. She was worshipped as the goddess of spring and fertility. The goddess’s name is the source of the word “Easter.”
The rabbit became an emblem for Eostra because of its proclivity for breeding. Pope Gregory sent Roman monks to preach to the Anglo-Saxons in AD 595. Eostra was honored by the Anglo-Saxons, as it was by their German forebears. When they were converted, they accepted the Easter celebration and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ while continuing to celebrate spring renewal and the symbolism of the rabbit. Easter is a time for Christians all around the world to praise and acknowledge Jesus Christ’s miraculous Resurrection from the grave, as well as His assurances of eternal life for everyone who trusts in Him as Christians commemorate the festival, the Easter eggs, and the Easter bunny mark as a reminder of the holiday’s extremely ancient origins outside of the Christian faith.