What is the History Behind the Easter Holiday?

What is the History Behind the Easter Holiday?

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  1. The Easter holiday is not just a single-day holiday, but an entire season celebrated in the Christian church. The 40-day Lenten season leading up to Easter Sunday is one of incredible religious importance, a time of reflection and fasting for Christians.

    Determining the day on which Easter Sunday falls is quite a trick for the common person. Churches in the west observe Easter on the first Sunday occurring on or following the full moon after the spring equinox on March 21st; Easter can fall anywhere between March 22nd and April 25th.

    Following Ash Wednesday, there are 40 days of fasting, penance, and reflection known as Lent. The week preceding Easter Sunday is Holy Week, and includes Holy or Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Jesus’ Last Supper; Good Friday, the day of his crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, a day of transition between the crucifixion and Jesus’ resurrection. Easter Sunday itself celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    In America, Easter had become a festival surrounding an important religious celebration, and somewhat commercialized with the introduction of the Easter bunny. The Easter bunny does have some significance to the holiday, however: the hare (not the rabbit) is considered a symbol of fertility, as are eggs, and both are symbolic to the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, Eostre. It is believed that since the rabbit is more prolific in producing than the hare, it was used in the hare’s place. The Easter Bunny was introduced to the United States by German settlers in the 18th century.

    The story of Easter eggs is thought to go back many centuries, with emphasis then placed on dyed red eggs. The egg was thought to symbolize the Resurrection: being dormant in a grave and breaking out of it; red symbolized the blood of Christ, which he gave to redeem the world.

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