Easter is arguably one of the most celebrated holidays of the modern Christian community. No one has been able to determine exactly how this festival and traditional feast day came about, but the 8th century historian, St. Bede, claimed that the name Easter evolved from Eostre, the Teutonic (or old Germanic) goddess of fertility and spring.
Also sometimes called, “the moveable feast,” Easter is a holiday that falls on a different day (and possibly a different month) every year. The Western World’s Christian churches celebrate Easter on the Sunday after the full moon that follows the vernal (or spring) equinox on March 21st.
While Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar to mark the Easter holiday, Western Christians go by the Gregorian calendar, which means Easter will fall anywhere from March 22nd to April 25th.
In Christianity, Easter is celebrated in remembrance of the day Jesus Christ was resurrected. The 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday are known as Lent, and are meant to be spent in observance of the 40 days Jesus wandered alone before starting his spiritual leadership.
The week before Easter Sunday includes Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, all dedicated to honoring Jesus’s last supper, crucifixion, and resurrection.
After the 40-day period of Lent, where Christians are meant to give up the worldly item they love the most, and after abstaining from meat on Good Friday, Easter Sunday is the perfect opportunity to celebrate with a feast or a festival.
For thousands of years, eggs have been a mythological symbol of birth, and life-giving egg yolk historically came to represent the resurrection of Christ. Around the 13th century, Christians began painting eggs red to represent the blood of Christ.
The fertile rabbit has long been a symbol of new life in pagan history. Around the 16th century, parents started telling children on the day before Easter that if they behaved, the “Osterhaus” would come and lay colorful eggs.
In order to entice the “Osterhaus,” or Easter Bunny, into laying eggs, children would build nests around their homes. Thus began the tradition of Easter baskets, and infamous Easter eggs hunts.
Today, Easter has become more commercialized by greeting card companies and consumer markets. However, families and friends still celebrate by getting together to share food and rejoice in the coming season of spring, and church attendance soars on this holiday.