This year, the date of Easter falls on April 4th. The holiday is usually observed each year on the first Sunday after the first full moon and on March 21— the spring equinox.
The Council of Nicaea— the Christian church’s first ecumenical council, announced that Easter should be celebrated on this date in 325 A.D. Between March 22nd – April 25th, on any Sunday.
Palm Sunday— the Sunday just before Easter, marks the anniversary of Jesus’ emergence in Jerusalem, where his followers greeted him with palm leaves strewn across the road. Many churches commence the Easter observance in the later hours of the day before (Holy Saturday) in a religious service referred to as ‘Easter Vigil.’
Conservative Easter celebrations are usually held later than Roman Catholic and Protestant Easter festivities. This is because Eastern Orthodox churches use the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar to determine Easter dates.
Why we celebrate Easter?
Easter commemorates Jesus’ resurrection, which Christians believe happened three days after his crucifixion. The festivity also marks the culmination of Lent, which as per Western churches, starts six and a half weeks before Easter on Ash Wednesday.
Before Easter, Lent is considered as the time of repentance and fasting. Many Catholics and other Christians prefer to abstain from certain pleasures, such as consuming alcohol, eating chocolate, or similar foods in existing times. In the run-up to Easter, the act is practiced to encourage self-control and draw emphasis on prayer and other spiritual considerations.
Significance of Eggs in Easter
Eggs came to represent Jesus’ resurrection and new beginnings. Since the 12th century, meals commemorating the end of Lent’s fast have included eggs, besides ham, cheeses, and bread.
The church forbade consuming eggs during Holy Week (the week between Palm Sunday and Easter). The practice of painting Easter eggs began with the concept of marking eggs laid during this week as “Holy Week” eggs. The use of painted Easter eggs dates back to the thirteenth century.
In Conservative culture, Easter eggs are painted red to signify Jesus’ bloodshed during his crucifixion.
The legend of the Easter Bunny
Rabbits have long and often been associated with fertility and new life. However, the sources of its Easter associations are uncertain. Although the connection dates back to the 17th century in Europe, it was not generally accepted until the 19th century.
The Easter Bunny is a folklore character who is known for laying, decorating, and hiding eggs. According to some accounts, the Easter Bunny tradition dates back to the 1700s, when German immigrants landed in Pennsylvania and brought their egg-laying hare, the “Osterhase.” Their children built nests for the legendary creature to lay its painted eggs in.
In the United States, Easter egg hunting and the White House Easter Egg Roll have become common traditions. Parents and children are welcomed to roll eggs across the South Lawn of the White House using long-handled spoons in this annual White House event.
In words of the White House Historical Association’s account: “The very first yearly White House Easter Egg Roll was held on April 22nd, 1878, after President Rutherford B. Hayes allowed to open the White House premises on Easter Monday to kids who wanted to roll Easter eggs,”
it continues, “When first lady Pat Nixon’s employees dressed up in a white jumpsuit and wore a Peter Rabbit mask while shaking kid’s hands along the South Lawn’s circular driveway in April 1969, the tradition of White House Easter Bunny was officially born.”