Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, is celebrated by many peoples across the globe. In America, many families celebrate by going to church, or collecting Easter eggs and candy, or both. As the years go by, it is important to keep in mind the origin of this holiday.
Easter is the celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. According to the Bible, Jesus died for everybody’s sins so that people could have an example of true love and have life in heaven. On the third day after his death, he rose from the dead and went to heaven. This act is believed to have opened up heaven for people who love God. Easter is celebrated as a reminder of the acts of Jesus’s love.
The first celebration was held by the Apostles as a reminder of the resurrection. The Christian mass serves as a reminder of the resurrection. The first Christian Council of Nicaea, held on May 20, 325 AD, established the uniform observance of Easter, among other things. Since then, Easter has been celebrated by Christians on the same day.
Unlike Christmas, which is always celebrated on December 25th, Easter is a moveable feast, meaning that the day which we celebrate Easter always changes from year to year. Last year, Easter was celebrated on April 20th, but this year, Easter was celebrated on April 5th. Before the Julian calendar was created by Julius Caesar in 46 A.D., there were 13 months in a year, each consisting of 28 days. This calendar matched up exactly with the cycles of the moon. But because the Julian calendar changed how many days were in a month, the months were not lined up with the moon cycles. In order to celebrate Easter the same time every year, the early church established a way to set the date for Easter. Ever since the First Council of Nicaea, Easter has been celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. In other words, Easter falls on the Sunday that comes after the first full moon of Spring. This ensures that Easter is celebrated around the same lunar time each year.
But why Easter eggs? Painting Easter eggs first started in a small Christian community in Mesopotamia. Eggs were dyed red in memory of the blood of Jesus Christ which was sacrificed. These eggs were empty, and thus symbolized the empty tomb of Jesus after his resurrection. Now, many families prepare for Easter by decorating hard boiled eggs. Eggs, in many Slavic countries, symbolize new life. For many people, Easter is a celebration of a spiritual rebirth. Many people are baptized at Easter vigil services, and at Easter Sunday services, baptismal vows are sometimes restated.
In America, since Easter always falls on a Sunday, it is not recognized as a federal holiday. Sunday is already an off-day from school. However, every Easter Monday, the President of the United States invites kids to the White House to have the annual Easter egg roll. This tradition started in the late 1800s and has continued until today. This tradition serves to symbolize unity among the people.
1. What is Easter also called?
2. What council established a way of deciding when to celebrate Easter?
3. What color was the first Easter eggs dyed?
4. What happens every Easter Monday at the White House?
5. What does the Easter egg symbolize for many people?
Jessica De Gree
Jessica teaches 5th grade English and History as well as 11th grade Spanish III at a Great Hearts Academy in Glendale, AZ. In addition to teaching, she coaches JV girls basketball and is a writing tutor for The Classical Historian Online Academy. Jessica recently played basketball professionally in Tarragona, Spain, where she taught English ESL and tutored Classical Historian writing students. In 2018, she received her Bachelor's degree in English and Spanish from Hillsdale College, MI.