Easter in Western Christianity Date in the current year: April 21, 2019

Easter in Western Christianity Easter is one of the most significant holidays in Christianity. It describes the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, as described in the four canonical Gospels. Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, following a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance named Lent.

The modern English term “Easter” is believed to have derived from Eostre, the name of a pagan goddess, also known as Ostara. Pagan Anglo-Saxons celebrated a festival dedicated to Ostara around the vernal equinox. With the spread of Christianity, the pagan festival was replaced by Easter, which borrowed its name and some of the traditions (such as egg rolling) from Ostara’s cult.

In most non-English speaking countries, the holiday is known as Pascha. This word originally denoted the Jewish holiday known in English as Passover. It became associated with Easter because the crucifixion of Jesus is believed to have taken place on a Friday during or near Passover.

Easter is extremely important for all Christians because it celebrates the foundation of the Christian faith. According to the New Testament, it was the resurrection of Jesus that established him as the Son of God. It’s also one of the oldest Christian festivals; the celebration of Easter dates back to the mid-2nd century, whereas the first recorded celebration of Christmas took place in the 4th century.

Easter is a movable feast. Its date is calculated using a lunisolar calendar similar to the Hebrew calendar; interestingly, Western and Eastern churches use different formulae for computations. In Western Christianity, the holiday always falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25 inclusive.

In Western churches, Easter is always proceeded by Lent, a period of penitence and fasting that helps the faithful to prepare for the holiday. It begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts for 40 days (not counting Sundays). The last week of Lent is known as Holy Week. It commemorates the key events of the last days of Jesus’ life: his entry in Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), the Last Supper (Maundy Thursday), the Crucifixion (Good Friday), and the Harrowing of Hell (Holy Saturday).

Traditionally, the liturgical observation of Easter in Western Christianity begins on the night of Holy Saturday with the Easter Vigil. Regarded as the most important liturgy of the year, it begins with the blessing of the Easter fire and the lighting of the Paschal candle, and ends with the celebration of the Eucharist.

In predominantly Christian countries or countries with a relatively large Christian population, Easter is often a public holiday or a bank holiday. As it always falls on a Sunday, which is usually a non-working day for government employees, Easter Monday is often designated as a public holiday as well.

One of the universal symbols of Easter is the Easter egg. Eggs have been associated with new life and rebirth since ancient times, so there’s no wonder that they became associated with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The oldest Christian tradition is to dye or decorate chicken eggs. It is still widespread in Eastern denominations, whereas in the West, chicken eggs are usually substituted with chocolate eggs or candy-filled plastic eggs.

Other popular Easter customs include egg rolling, egg tapping, egg hunt and other games involving Easter eggs, fast-breaking meals, and picnicking and other recreational activities. In some countries, there are traditional foods associated with Easter like lamb-shaped cakes, Easter breads such as Simnel cake, and hot cross buns.

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Religious Holidays

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Eland, Albania, Australia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba, Bulgaria, Curacao, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, French Polynesia, Vatican City, Iceland, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Madagascar, Micronesia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Sint Maarten, Sudan, South Sudan, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Suriname, Syria, Sweden, Zimbabwe

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Easter, Easter in Western Christianity, religious holiday, public holidays, Holy Week