Last Updated on February 28, 2011 by Hanna Trafford
Easter is the most important annual religious feast in the Christian year. According to Christian scripture, Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the third day of his crucifixion.Christians celebrate this on Easter Sunday – that is two days after Good Friday and three days after Maundy Thursday.
Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of fasting, prayer and penance. It is a moveable feast, that means that it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar.
New elements came to life in the modern life, including the Easter Bunny and Easter Egg Hunts.
The Name of Easter
The origins of the word “Easter” is not certain – it most likely came from Estre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. The German word Ostern has the same derivation.
The Date of Easter
Determining the date of Easter is complex and it has been a matter of controversy. The Catholic and Protestant churches of the Western world celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the first new moon after the spring equinox. But it does become more complicated – the spring equinox is fixed for March 21 and the full moon is actually paschal moon – based on 84-year old :paschal cycle: established in the sixth century. It rarely corresponds to the astronomical full moon. So because of this complicated calculation, Easter usually falls anywhere between March 22 and April 25th.
Easter is now celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon which happens on or after March 21 – the spring Equinox.
If you wondered how eggs are connected to Easter – it dates back to medieval times, when a festival of egg throwing was held in church. During the festival, the priest would throw a hard-boiled egg to one of the choirboys. It was then tossed from one choirboy to another and whoever held the egg when the clock struck 12 was the winner and got to keep the egg.
Tradition dictated the churchgoers wear some bright new piece of clothing – hence the Easter bonnet came about – especially for those who could not afford a whole new outfit.
In modern times, the tradition of eggs has been expanded to including the famous Easter bunny who hides eggs that are fun for children to go hunting for and special meals that give an opportunity for families to get together and celebrate this holiday.
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