The Easter bunny, brightly colored Easter eggs, and Easter baskets filled with treats—all of these popular traditions are a part of Easter. Easter is a joyous holiday for Christians. It celebrates the resurrection, or rebirth, of Jesus Christ.
Easter is always celebrated on a Sunday, the day of Christ’s resurrection. But the exact date of the holiday changes from year to year. Easter falls sometime between March 22 and April 25.
WHY DO CHRISTIANS CELEBRATE EASTER?
The Friday before Easter, called Good Friday, marks the day that Jesus was crucified (nailed to a cross). Crucifixion was a common death penalty in the ancient Roman world. Christians believe Jesus was sacrificed to pay for the sins of humankind.
According to the Bible, Jesus’ followers placed his body in a tomb the day he died. On Sunday, several followers visited the tomb and found it empty. Two shimmering angels appeared before them. The angels said Jesus had risen from the dead.
Jesus then appeared before his followers and spoke with them. For Christians, Jesus’ resurrection offers hope for everlasting life in heaven after death. Most Christian churches observe the Easter holiday with special services.
A SPRING CELEBRATION
Many Easter traditions began long before Christianity. The Easter holiday is rooted in older festivals that celebrated the arrival of spring. The ancient Greeks, like many other ancient people, viewed spring as a time of renewal and rebirth after the winter.
EASTER BUNNY AND EASTER EGGS
The Easter bunny and Easter eggs are very old traditions that symbolize spring and new life. Colorfully painted Easter eggs represent the colors of spring, including early spring flowers like daffodils, crocuses, and lilies. Over time, people added Easter baskets, Easter egg hunts, and candies to the festivities.
WHY DOES THE DATE OF EASTER CHANGE?
Deciding what day Easter falls on is a complicated process. Today, most Christians celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the first day of spring. The earliest possible date this Sunday can fall on is March 22. The latest possible date is April 25.
The Orthodox Churches—Christian churches historically based in the East—calculate Easter differently. For this reason, the Orthodox Churches usually celebrate Easter on a different day.
Today, some Christian churches want to change how Easter is calculated. They’d like to see Easter become a fixed date on the calendar, like Christmas.