Easter is a ‘movable feast’ that is one of the most important celebrations in Christianity, commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Those are the basics, but here’s everything you need to know about Easter.
While many people associate Easter with hunting for colored eggs and the Easter Bunny, those are later editions that came through pagan celebrations or beliefs that are not part of the true, Christian origin of the holiday.
Equally as important as the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25, the Christian celebration of Easter in spring commemorates His crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection.
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned,”
– Romans 5:12
Christians see the crucifixion and sacrifice of Jesus Christ as fulfilling the messianic prophecies of Isaiah 53. The events of Jesus’ death on the cross fulfill Isaiah’s prophecies in minute detail. This passage speaks of a sinless Savior who will be sacrificed because of humankind’s sins, but by whose death all of humankind’s sin shall be forgiven.
“For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
– 1 Corinthians 15:21-22
However, the most important factor of Easter for Christians is that, on the third day following his crucifixion and death, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Christ proved that death can be defeated and that life is eternal. The sacrifice of the blood of Jesus on the cross provided a path to redemption from sin for those who put their faith in Christ and God.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The Bible tells the story of Easter in three of the first four Gospels of the New Testament. The Bible recounts the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in Matthew 28, Mark 16, and Luke 24.
Essentially, Jesus Christ was crucified on a Friday and buried afterward. Three days later, on Sunday, the same day as the Jewish holiday of Passover, Christ was resurrected and arose from the dead.
Easter is a “movable feast.” The event is related to the first full moon of spring. Therefore, Easter does not have a fixed date, and the date changes every year.
Early Christians followed the Hebrew or Jewish Calendar, which is a lunar calendar. The Hebrew calendar is roughly 11 days shorter than the solar year. The Hebrew calendar follows “[a] 19-year Metonic cycle to bring it into line with the solar year, with the addition of an intercalary month every two or three years, for a total of seven times per 19 years,” according to Wikipedia.
However, the Roman Emperor Constantine designated the date to be moved to the Sunday after Passover. The feast was renamed from pascha to Easter, and the date was modified to align with the solar or Gregorian calendar.
Since that time, Easter is always celebrated on a Sunday, which usually occurs between March 22 and April 25, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Therefore, due to changes that occurred during Roman times, Easter is always celebrated on the first Sunday that follows the full moon that occurs on or immediately following the spring equinox. When the full moon occurs on the same day as the spring equinox, the observation of Easter is celebrated on the Sunday that follows.
Easter, was originally pascha, the Greek word for Passover. Easter was celebrated by the early Christian church on the same day as the Jewish holiday of Passover. The original followers of Jesus commemorated his death and resurrection by celebrating pascha on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Nissan, which is also the first day of Passover, according to The Reporter. Passover and pascha were both celebrated together by early Christians.