Easter Sunday - What is it?

Easter Sunday is the day of the year on which Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is held the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Vernal Equinox, which puts it between March 22 and April 25 in the west and April 4 and May 8 in the Eastern Church.

There are many traditional activities which take place on or around Easter across the world. Some, such as eating eggs and ham, have to do with being released from the Lenten fast from rich foods. Others, such as the inclusion of rabbits, are traditions left over from the celebration of pagan spring fertility rites. Hats, parades, chocolate, decorated eggs, ham supper, and baskets of goodies have nothing to do with the real celebration of Easter.

In fact, even the word "Easter" is borrowed. It came from from the German goddess of spring and fertility, Ostara, who was derived from the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. The early church celebrated Jesus' resurrection as Pascha—the Latin term for the Aramaic word for Passover. In light of the pagan origins of the word "Easter," many in the church prefer to use "Resurrection Sunday."

The original method of observing Easter Sunday is unknown. In its purest form, Easter is celebrated in the spring—near the time of the Passover, which is near the time of Christ's crucifixion. It is held on a Sunday, which is the day of the week on which Jesus rose (Matthew 28:1). And it is a time for all of corporate Christianity to celebrate Christ's resurrection and our freedom from sin. None of this is demanded or even suggested in the Bible, but it is not wrong for the church to choose one day a year to intentionally acknowledge Jesus' triumph over death.

Many Christian families choose to also include some of the cultural traditions in their Easter Sunday. It is not wrong to give kids baskets with candy, let them hunt for eggs, or eat a ham. As long as the true meaning of Easter is celebrated, this is a matter of personal conviction.

Easter Sunday Calendar

2024 — March 31
2025 — April 20
2026 — April 5

2027 — March 28

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