Easter Sunday is a holiday celebrating Jesus’ rising from the dead and is Christianity’s most important holiday. It is celebrated in the spring on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. Thus it falls anywhere from March 22nd until April 25th. The Orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar and their holiday is usually one or two weeks later in the spring.
The word Easter is thought to come from the word Eostre which was a Teutonic goddess of spring. In other romance languages the word is derived from language relating to the Passover which is celebrated in the Jewish world. Jesus was celebrating the Passover dinner at the last supper with his disciples.
Easter is a season of the Christian church calendar, not just a one day event. The Easter season begins on Ash Wednesday and is a forty day period of time in which believers reflect on their beliefs in God and a time in which many abstain from either food or another indulgence. The forty days of Lent are in honor of the forty days in which Jesus went into the wilderness and was tempted.
The week before Easter is known as Holy Week. It begins with Maundy Thursday commemorating the last supper, goes on to Good Friday which remembers Jesus’ crucifixion and then culminates on Easter Sunday, the morning on which Jesus arose from the dead.
Easter Sunday is traditionally a family day in which a large meal is served to the extended family gathering. Lamb or ham are usually the main entrée. Baked goods and various vegetable dishes are also served. Spring flowers may grace the table. The commercial side of Easter is full of candies and bunnies. Children receive Easter baskets filled with goodies, and they are to have been brought by the Easter Bunny. All children enjoy hunting for hidden Easter eggs which may be real eggs dyed in pretty pastel shades, or candy eggs of chocolate.