Easter is a Christian observance celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is Christianity’s most important holiday because it recognizes the eternal life of Jesus. Unlike Christmas, Easter is not celebrated on the same date every year. As a matter of fact, Western and Eastern Christian churches typically do not even celebrate Easter at the same time. Western Easter uses the Gregorian calendar to determine Easter’s date. It falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the first day of spring. It can land on the calendar anywhere between March 22 and April 25. Orthodox Easter uses the Julian calendar to determine the date of Easter. It usually falls within a week or two after the Western celebration.
Regardless of the day on which Easter falls, it is actually a seasonal celebration in the Christian church. The Easter season includes Lent, which is the 40 day period of preparation for Easter. This is a time in which Christians reflect on their dedication to Christ and give penance. It is representative of the 40 days Jesus spent alone before beginning his teachings. Easter is typically ushered in by Fat Tuesday, a final chance to let loose and indulge.
The week leading up to Easter is Holy Week. It includes Maundy Thursday, which is celebrated in recognition of the Last Supper, Good Friday,
which was the day on which Jesus was crucified, and Holy Saturday, which is the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection.
There are a number of rituals included in the celebration that have little to do with the crucifixion or resurrection. Christians attend Sunday church services with their families, many in new clothing purchased specifically for the holiday. In the United States, families color Easter eggs, and participate in Easter egg hunts. The Easter Bunny is a mythical figure similar to Santa Claus. In addition to hiding the eggs, the bunny is also responsible for delivering chocolates and other candies to the Easter baskets of children. Most European countries celebrate with colored eggs and the Easter bunny.
Easter Around the World
Children from Sweden, Denmark, and Finland celebrate Easter by painting eggs and dressing as witches. They go door to door and receive decorated pussy willows. Following the collection, families gather to enjoy a large Easter feast that usually includes potatoes, eggs, salmon, and herring.
Christians in Bermuda celebrate Eater by flying kits. This is intended as a metaphor for Jesus’ ascent into Heaven. The kites are made in the days leading up to Easter, but only flown on Easter Sunday. Families also enjoy fish cakes, Easter eggs, and hot cross buns with their Easter Sunday meal.
Easter is also celebrated as a welcoming of spring. It is a time of rebirth in both nature and religion. Most public schools in America no longer celebrate Easter, but children are allowed to enjoy spring parties and festivals. The parties often include many of the non-Christian symbols of Easter, such as bunnies, colorful eggs, and pastel colors.