Easter Sunday is considered the most important holiday on the Christian calendar. Behind the eggs and the bunnies, there is a deep religious significance that began in 30-33 A.D. with the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The clip above shows the Jesus’ death and resurrection as depicted by the film Son of God, which was released this February.
In the scene, we see Jesus returning to Jerusalem after having died on Good Friday, and how His followers reacted to the miracle.
Here is all you need about why Christians celebrate this holiday each year with reverence and hope.
1. It Celebrates Jesus’ Resurrection
Christ’s Resurrection is the most important event to occur in the Christian church.
If we read Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:17, he states, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins.”
After He was crucified, died and was buried on Good Friday, He rose from the dead on Sunday, after three days of being in the tomb.
The video above is from The Passion of the Christ, showing a version of the Bible story with Jim Caviezel playing Jesus.
Christians can bring the meaning of the Resurrection into their own lives. It assures the faithful that they too will enjoy eternal life.
2. It’s a Movable Feast
This means that each year, Easter falls on a different date.
Easter has to fall on the Sunday after the Paschal full moon. The first full moon is always on or after March 21.
This results in Easter always being celebrated between March 22 and April 25.
It is determined based on the Jewish feast of Passover, historically. To make it clear, the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America stated:
Our observance of the Resurrection is related to the “Passover of the Jews” in a historical and theological way, but our calculation does not depend on when the modern-day Jews celebrate.
However, Christians celebrate the end of Lent on the Saturday before Easter.
Easter also marks the end of the fasting and abstinence the faithful observed in anticipation.
3. The Egg is the Symbol of the Empty Tomb
In keeping with tradition, families use dye to color eggs. For Christians, the egg is a symbol of the Resurrection, since when they are cracked open it symbolizes the empty tomb.
Decorating eggs dates back to the 13th century.
Easter eggs became popular in medieval times when the Church did not allow eating of eggs during Lent. It is said that eggs were stored for 40 days, decorated, and eaten on Easter.
According to a USA Today report, the egg may have origins in pagan rituals celebrating spring.
As far of the Easter bunny goes, it’s said that the Germans brought him to America, but until after the Civil War when Easter caught on, did it come to be part of the celebration.
None of these traditions are in the Bible, but have been started by believers over the years.
4. It’s Named After a Goddess
The English word for Easter derives from the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess.
Christianity Today claims that although it cannot be proven, they believe Bede, a seventh-century historian from England wrote that Easter’s name came from the goddess Eostre, who was associated with spring and fertility.
In Europe, the name of the Christian holiday can be traced back to a Hebrew term, “pesach.”
Father William Saunders explained the origin in The Arlington Catholic Herald:
The Greek word pascha is used for the Aramaic form of the Hebrew word pesach, which means Passover. During the first three centuries of the Church, Pasch referred specifically to the celebration of Christ’s passion and death; by the end of the fourth century, it also included the Easter Vigil; and by the end of the fifth century, it referred to Easter itself.
5. Mass Attendance Almost Doubles
Church leaders are known to report that attendance can almost double when it comes to Easter.
Seth Normington, pastor at Linden Presbyterian Church in Detroit, told the TC Times that he focuses on being welcoming and encouraging people to come to mass more often instead of reprimanding them for only attending church on major holidays.
Easter Vigil begins between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Sunday.
All Catholics should receive the Holy Eucharist, Christ’s Body, sometime during the Easter season, which lasts through Pentecost, 50 days after Easter.
The Church urges its parishioners to take part in the Sacrament of Confession before Easter.