Easter
Overview
 
Easter is the central feast in the Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 liturgical year
Liturgical year
The liturgical year, also known as the church year, consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons in Christian churches which determines when feast days, including celebrations of saints, are to be observed, and which portions of Scripture are to be read. Distinct liturgical colours may appear in...

. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 rose from the dead
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

 on the third day
Third day in the Bible
-Introduction:The expression third day appears in several narratives in the Bible. Some biblical interpreters have thought that some of these third day motifs have significance by signifying a certain divine principle, and a few interpreters have thought that they are cryptic in meaning...

 after his crucifixion
Crucifixion of Jesus
The crucifixion of Jesus and his ensuing death is an event that occurred during the 1st century AD. Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God as well as the Messiah, was arrested, tried, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross...

. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday (also Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday). The chronology
Chronology of Jesus
The chronology of Jesus aims to establish a historical order for some of the events of the life of Jesus in the four canonical gospels. The Christian gospels were primarily written as theological documents rather than historical chronicles and their authors showed little interest in an absolute...

 of his death and resurrection is variously interpreted to have occurred between AD 26 and 36.

Easter marks the end of Lent
Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

, a forty-day period of fasting
Fasting
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...

, prayer, and penance
Penance
Penance is repentance of sins as well as the proper name of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, and Anglican Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation/Confession. It also plays a part in non-sacramental confession among Lutherans and other Protestants...

.
Encyclopedia
Easter is the central feast in the Christian
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 liturgical year
Liturgical year
The liturgical year, also known as the church year, consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons in Christian churches which determines when feast days, including celebrations of saints, are to be observed, and which portions of Scripture are to be read. Distinct liturgical colours may appear in...

. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 rose from the dead
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

 on the third day
Third day in the Bible
-Introduction:The expression third day appears in several narratives in the Bible. Some biblical interpreters have thought that some of these third day motifs have significance by signifying a certain divine principle, and a few interpreters have thought that they are cryptic in meaning...

 after his crucifixion
Crucifixion of Jesus
The crucifixion of Jesus and his ensuing death is an event that occurred during the 1st century AD. Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God as well as the Messiah, was arrested, tried, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross...

. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday (also Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday). The chronology
Chronology of Jesus
The chronology of Jesus aims to establish a historical order for some of the events of the life of Jesus in the four canonical gospels. The Christian gospels were primarily written as theological documents rather than historical chronicles and their authors showed little interest in an absolute...

 of his death and resurrection is variously interpreted to have occurred between AD 26 and 36.

Easter marks the end of Lent
Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

, a forty-day period of fasting
Fasting
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...

, prayer, and penance
Penance
Penance is repentance of sins as well as the proper name of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, and Anglican Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation/Confession. It also plays a part in non-sacramental confession among Lutherans and other Protestants...

. The last week of the Lent is called Holy Week
Holy Week
Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter...

, and it contains Good Friday
Good Friday
Good Friday , is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of...

, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus
Crucifixion of Jesus
The crucifixion of Jesus and his ensuing death is an event that occurred during the 1st century AD. Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God as well as the Messiah, was arrested, tried, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross...

. Easter is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide
Eastertide
Eastertide, or the Easter Season, or Paschal Time, is the period of fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday.It is celebrated as a single joyful feast, indeed as the "great Lord's Day". Each Sunday of the season is treated as a Sunday of Easter, and, after the Sunday of the Resurrection,...

 or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday.

Easter is a moveable feast
Moveable feast
In Christianity, a moveable feast or movable feast is a holy day – a feast day or a fast day – whose date is not fixed to a particular day of the calendar year but moves in response to the date of Easter, the date of which varies according to a complex formula...

, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar
Civil calendar
In any country, the civil calendar is the calendar, or possibly one of several calendars, used within that country for civil, official or administrative purposes. The civil calendar is almost always used for general purposes by people and private organizations....

. The First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday
Sunday
Sunday is the day of the week between Saturday and Monday. For most Christians, Sunday is observed as a day for worship of God and rest, due to the belief that it is Lord's Day, the day of Christ's resurrection....

 after the full moon
Full moon
Full moon lunar phase that occurs when the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. More precisely, a full moon occurs when the geocentric apparent longitudes of the Sun and Moon differ by 180 degrees; the Moon is then in opposition with the Sun.Lunar eclipses can only occur at...

 (the Paschal Full Moon
Paschal Full Moon
Notionally, the paschal full moon refers to the ecclesiastical full moon of the northern spring used in the determination of the date of Easter. The name "paschal" is derived from "Pascha", a transliteration of the Greek word, which is itself a transliteration of the Hebrew pesach, both words...

) following the northern hemisphere's vernal equinox. Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on March 21 (even though the equinox occurs, astronomically speaking, on March 20 in most years), and the "Full Moon" is not necessarily the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies between March 22 and April 25. Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

 bases its calculations on the Julian Calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 whose March 21 corresponds, during the 21st century, to the 3rd of April in the Gregorian Calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

, in which calendar their celebration of Easter therefore varies between April 4 and May 8.

Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

 by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many European languages, the words for "Easter" and "Passover" are etymologically related or homonym
Homonym
In linguistics, a homonym is, in the strict sense, one of a group of words that often but not necessarily share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings...

ous.

Easter customs
Easter customs
As with other Christian festivals, the celebration of Easter extends beyond the church. Since its origins, it has been a time of celebration and feasting and many Traditional Easter games and customs developed, such as egg rolling, egg tapping, Pace egging and egg decorating...

 vary across the Christian world, but decorating Easter eggs is a common motif. In the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

, customs such as egg hunting and the Easter Bunny
Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny or Easter Rabbit is a character depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs, who sometimes is depicted with clothes...

 extend from the domain of church, and often have a secular character.

English and German

The modern English term Easter developed from the Old English
Old English language
Old English or Anglo-Saxon is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons and their descendants in parts of what are now England and southeastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century...

 word Ēastre or Ēostre (ˈæːɑstre, ˈeːostre), which itself developed prior to 899. The name refers to Eostur-monath (Old English "Ēostre month"), a month of the Germanic calendar
Germanic calendar
The Germanic calendars were the regional calendars used amongst the early Germanic peoples, prior to the adoption of the Julian calendar in the Early Middle Ages....

 attested by Bede
Bede
Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

, who writes that the month is named after the goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

 Ēostre
Eostre
Old English Ēostre and Old High German Ôstarâ are the names of a Germanic goddess whose Anglo-Saxon month, Ēostur-monath , has given its name to the festival of Easter...

 of Anglo-Saxon paganism. Bede notes that Ēostur-monath was the equivalent to the month of April, yet that feasts held in her honor during Ēostur-monath had gone out of use by the time of his writing and had been replaced with the Christian custom of the "Paschal season".

Using comparative linguistic evidence from continental Germanic sources, the 19th century scholar Jacob Grimm
Jacob Grimm
Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm was a German philologist, jurist and mythologist. He is best known as the discoverer of Grimm's Law, the author of the monumental Deutsches Wörterbuch, the author of Deutsche Mythologie and, more popularly, as one of the Brothers Grimm, as the editor of Grimm's Fairy...

 proposed the existence of a cognate form of Ēostre among the pre-Christian beliefs
Germanic paganism
Germanic paganism refers to the theology and religious practices of the Germanic peoples of north-western Europe from the Iron Age until their Christianization during the Medieval period...

 of the continental Germanic peoples, whose name he reconstructed as *Ostara
Eostre
Old English Ēostre and Old High German Ôstarâ are the names of a Germanic goddess whose Anglo-Saxon month, Ēostur-monath , has given its name to the festival of Easter...

.

Since Grimm's time, linguists have identified the goddess as a Germanic form of the reconstructed
Linguistic reconstruction
Linguistic reconstruction is the practice of establishing the features of the unattested ancestor of one or more given languages. There are two kinds of reconstruction. Internal reconstruction uses irregularities in a single language to make inferences about an earlier stage of that language...

 Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 goddess of the dawn, *Hausos
Hausos
One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the dawn goddess. Her name is reconstructed as Ausōs , besides numerous epithets....

and theories connecting Ēostre with records of Germanic Easter customs (including hares and eggs) have been proposed.

Modern German features the cognate term Ostern, but otherwise, Germanic languages generally use the non-native term pascha for the event (see below).

Semitic, Romance, Celtic and other Germanic languages

The Greek word Πάσχα and hence the Latin form Pascha is derived from Hebrew Pesach meaning the festival of Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

. In Greek the word Ἀνάστασις (upstanding, up-rising, resurrection) is used also as an alternative.

Christians speaking Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 or other Semitic languages
Semitic languages
The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

 generally use names cognate
Cognate
In linguistics, cognates are words that have a common etymological origin. This learned term derives from the Latin cognatus . Cognates within the same language are called doublets. Strictly speaking, loanwords from another language are usually not meant by the term, e.g...

 to Pesaḥ. For instance, the second word of the Arabic name of the festival , ʕiːd ælfisˤħ has the root
Triliteral
The roots of verbs and most nouns in the Semitic languages are characterized as a sequence of consonants or "radicals"...

 F-Ṣ-Ḥ, which given the sound laws applicable to Arabic is cognate to Hebrew P-S-Ḥ, with "Ḥ" realized as /x/ in Modern Hebrew and /ħ/ in Arabic. Arabic also uses the term , ʕiːd ælqiyæːmæh, meaning "festival of the resurrection", but this term is less common. In Maltese
Maltese language
Maltese is the national language of Malta, and a co-official language of the country alongside English,while also serving as an official language of the European Union, the only Semitic language so distinguished. Maltese is descended from Siculo-Arabic...

 the word is L-Għid, where "Għ" stands for the common Semitic consonant Ayin
Ayin
' or ' is the sixteenth letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic . It is the twenty-first letter in the new Persian alphabet...

, and is directly derived from Arabic ''ʿĪd, which in both cases means "festival". In Ge'ez
Ge'ez language
Ge'ez is an ancient South Semitic language that developed in the northern region of Ethiopia and southern Eritrea in the Horn of Africa...

 and the modern Ethiosemitic languages
Ethiopian Semitic languages
Ethiopian Semitic is a language group, which together with Old South Arabian forms the Western branch of the South Semitic languages. The languages are spoken in both Ethiopia and Eritrea...

 of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 and Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

, two forms exist: ፋሲካ ("Fasika",
fāsīkā) from Greek Pascha, and ትንሣኤ ("Tensae", tinśā'ē), the latter from the Semitic root N-Ś-', meaning "to rise" (cf. Arabic nasha'a—ś merged with "sh" in Arabic and most non-South Semitic languages).

In all Romance languages
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

, the name of the Easter festival is derived from the Latin
Pascha. In Spanish, Easter is Pascua, in Italian and Catalan Pasqua, in Portuguese Páscoa and in Romanian Paşti. In French, the name of Easter Pâques also derives from the Latin word but the s following the a has been lost and the two letters have been transformed into a â with a circumflex
Use of the circumflex in French
The circumflex is one of the five diacritics used in the French language. It may be used atop the vowels a, e, i, o, and u.In French, the circumflex has three primary functions:...

 accent by elision
Elision
Elision is the omission of one or more sounds in a word or phrase, producing a result that is easier for the speaker to pronounce...

. Additionally in Romanian, the only Romance language of an Eastern church
Romanian Orthodox Church
The Romanian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church. It is in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox churches, and is ranked seventh in order of precedence. The Primate of the church has the title of Patriarch...

, the word
Înviere (resurrection, cf. Greek Ἀνάστασις, anástasis) is also used.

In all modern Celtic languages
Celtic languages
The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic, or "Common Celtic"; a branch of the greater Indo-European language family...

 the term for Easter is derived from Latin. In Brythonic languages
Brythonic languages
The Brythonic or Brittonic languages form one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic language family, the other being Goidelic. The name Brythonic was derived by Welsh Celticist John Rhys from the Welsh word Brython, meaning an indigenous Briton as opposed to an Anglo-Saxon or Gael...

 this has yielded Welsh
Pasg, Cornish
Cornish language
Cornish is a Brythonic Celtic language and a recognised minority language of the United Kingdom. Along with Welsh and Breton, it is directly descended from the ancient British language spoken throughout much of Britain before the English language came to dominate...

 and Breton
Breton language
Breton is a Celtic language spoken in Brittany , France. Breton is a Brythonic language, descended from the Celtic British language brought from Great Britain to Armorica by migrating Britons during the Early Middle Ages. Like the other Brythonic languages, Welsh and Cornish, it is classified as...

 
Pask. In Goidelic languages
Goidelic languages
The Goidelic languages or Gaelic languages are one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic languages, the other consisting of the Brythonic languages. Goidelic languages historically formed a dialect continuum stretching from the south of Ireland through the Isle of Man to the north of Scotland...

 the word was borrowed before these languages had re-developed the /p/ sound and as a result the initial /p/ was replaced with /k/. This yielded Irish
Cáisc, Gaelic Càisg and Manx
Manx language
Manx , also known as Manx Gaelic, and as the Manks language, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, historically spoken by the Manx people. Only a small minority of the Island's population is fluent in the language, but a larger minority has some knowledge of it...

 
Caisht. These terms are normally used with the definite article
Definite Article
Definite Article is the title of British comedian Eddie Izzard's 1996 performance released on VHS. It was recorded on different nights at the Shaftesbury Theatre...

 in Goidelic languages, causing lenition
Lenition
In linguistics, lenition is a kind of sound change that alters consonants, making them "weaker" in some way. The word lenition itself means "softening" or "weakening" . Lenition can happen both synchronically and diachronically...

 in all cases:
An Cháisc, A' Chàisg and Y Chaisht.

In Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

, Easter is known as
Pasen and in the Scandinavian languages Easter is known as påske (Danish and Norwegian), påsk (Swedish), páskar (Icelandic) and páskir (Faeroese). The name is derived directly from Hebrew Pesach. The letter å
Å
Å represents various sounds in several languages. Å is part of the alphabets used for the Alemannic and the Bavarian-Austrian dialects of German...

 is pronounced /oː/, derived from an older aa, and an alternate spelling is
paaske or paask.

Slavic languages

In most Slavic languages, the name for Easter either means "Great Day" or "Great Night". For example,
Wielkanoc, Veľká noc and Velikonoce mean "Great Night" or "Great Nights" in Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

, Slovak
Slovak language
Slovak , is an Indo-European language that belongs to the West Slavic languages .Slovak is the official language of Slovakia, where it is spoken by 5 million people...

 and Czech
Czech language
Czech is a West Slavic language with about 12 million native speakers; it is the majority language in the Czech Republic and spoken by Czechs worldwide. The language was known as Bohemian in English until the late 19th century...

, respectively. Велигден (
Veligden), Великдень (Velykden), Великден (Velikden), and Вялікдзень (Vyalikdzyen) mean "The Great Day" in Macedonian
Macedonian language
Macedonian is a South Slavic language spoken as a first language by approximately 2–3 million people principally in the region of Macedonia but also in the Macedonian diaspora...

, Ukrainian
Ukrainian language
Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

, Bulgarian
Bulgarian language
Bulgarian is an Indo-European language, a member of the Slavic linguistic group.Bulgarian, along with the closely related Macedonian language, demonstrates several linguistic characteristics that set it apart from all other Slavic languages such as the elimination of case declension, the...

, and Belarusian
Belarusian language
The Belarusian language , sometimes referred to as White Russian or White Ruthenian, is the language of the Belarusian people...

, respectively.

In Croatian
Croatian language
Croatian is the collective name for the standard language and dialects spoken by Croats, principally in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Serbian province of Vojvodina and other neighbouring countries...

, however, the day's name reflects a particular theological connection: it is called Uskrs, meaning "Resurrection". It is also called Vazam (Vzem or Vuzem in Old Croatian), which is a noun that originated from the Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic or Old Church Slavic was the first literary Slavic language, first developed by the 9th century Byzantine Greek missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius who were credited with standardizing the language and using it for translating the Bible and other Ancient Greek...

 verb vzeti (now uzeti in Croatian, meaning "to take"). In Serbian
Serbian language
Serbian is a form of Serbo-Croatian, a South Slavic language, spoken by Serbs in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and neighbouring countries....

 Easter is called Vaskrs, a liturgical form inherited from the Serbian recension of Church Slavonic. The archaic term Velja noć (velmi: Old Slavic for "great"; noć: "night") was used in Croatian while the term Velikden ("Great Day") was used in Serbian. It is believed that Cyril and Methodius
Saints Cyril and Methodius
Saints Cyril and Methodius were two Byzantine Greek brothers born in Thessaloniki in the 9th century. They became missionaries of Christianity among the Slavic peoples of Bulgaria, Great Moravia and Pannonia. Through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs, for which they...

, the "holy brothers" who baptized the Slavic people and translated Christian books from Greek into Old Church Slavonic, invented the word Uskrs from the Croatian word krsnuti which means "to enliven". It should be noted that in these languages the prefix Velik (Great) is used in the names of the Holy Week
Holy Week
Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter...

 and the three feast days preceding Easter.

Another exception is Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

, in which the name of the feast, Пасха (Paskha), is a borrowing of the Greek form via Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic or Old Church Slavic was the first literary Slavic language, first developed by the 9th century Byzantine Greek missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius who were credited with standardizing the language and using it for translating the Bible and other Ancient Greek...

.

Finno-Ugric languages

In Finnish the name for Easter pääsiäinen, traces back to the verb pääse- meaning to be released, as does the Sámi
Sami languages
Sami or Saami is a general name for a group of Uralic languages spoken by the Sami people in parts of northern Finland, Norway, Sweden and extreme northwestern Russia, in Northern Europe. Sami is frequently and erroneously believed to be a single language. Several names are used for the Sami...

 word Beassážat. The Estonian
Estonian language
Estonian is the official language of Estonia, spoken by about 1.1 million people in Estonia and tens of thousands in various émigré communities...

 name lihavõtted and the Hungarian húsvét, however, literally mean the taking of the meat, relating to the end of the Great Lent fasting period. However in Hungarian it can also be taken to mean sin of eating meat since vétek means transgression, sin, vice, trespass, offense.

Theological significance

The New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 teaches that the resurrection of Jesus, which Easter celebrates, is a foundation of the Christian faith. The resurrection established Jesus as the powerful Son of God and is cited as proof that God will judge the world in righteousness. God has given Christians "a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead". Christians, through faith in the working of God are spiritually resurrected with Jesus so that they may walk in a new way of life.

Easter is linked to the Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

 and Exodus from Egypt recorded in the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 through the Last Supper
Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "communion" or "the Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians is...

 and crucifixion
Passion (Christianity)
The Passion is the Christian theological term used for the events and suffering – physical, spiritual, and mental – of Jesus in the hours before and including his trial and execution by crucifixion...

 that preceded the resurrection. According to the New Testament, Jesus gave the Passover meal a new meaning, as he prepared himself and his disciples for his death in the upper room
Cenacle
The Cenacle , also known as the "Upper Room", is the term used for the site of The Last Supper. The word is a derivative of the Latin word cena, which means dinner....

 during the Last Supper. He identified the loaf of bread and cup of wine as his body
Body of Christ
In Christian theology, the term Body of Christ has two separate connotations: it may refer to Jesus's statement about the Eucharist at the Last Supper that "This is my body" in , or the explicit usage of the term by the Apostle Paul in to refer to the Christian Church.Although in general usage the...

 soon to be sacrificed and his blood
Blood of Christ
The Blood of Christ in Christian theology refers to the physical blood actually shed by Jesus Christ on the Cross, and the salvation which Christianity teaches was accomplished thereby; and the sacramental blood present in the Eucharist, which is considered by Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and...

 soon to be shed. Paul states, "Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed"; this refers to the Passover requirement to have no yeast in the house and to the allegory of Jesus as the Paschal lamb
Lamb of God
The title Lamb of God appears in the Gospel of John, with the exclamation of John the Baptist: "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" in John 1:29 when he sees Jesus....

.

One interpretation of the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 is that Jesus, as the Passover lamb, was crucified at roughly the same time as the Passover lambs were being slain in the temple, on the afternoon of Nisan 14
Quartodecimanism
Quartodecimanism refers to the custom of some early Christians celebrating Passover beginning with the eve of the 14th day of Nisan , which at dusk is Biblically the "Lord's passover".The modern Jewish Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread is seven days, starting with the sunset at...

. The scriptural instructions specify that the lamb is to be slain "between the two evenings", that is, at twilight. By the Roman period, however, the sacrifices were performed in the mid-afternoon. Josephus, Jewish War 6.10.1/423 ("They sacrifice from the ninth to the eleventh hour"). Philo, Special Laws 2.27/145 ("Many myriads of victims from noon till eventide are offered by the whole people"). This interpretation, however, is inconsistent with the chronology
Chronology of Jesus
The chronology of Jesus aims to establish a historical order for some of the events of the life of Jesus in the four canonical gospels. The Christian gospels were primarily written as theological documents rather than historical chronicles and their authors showed little interest in an absolute...

 in the Synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...

. It assumes that text literally translated "the preparation of the passover" in refers to Nisan 14 (Preparation Day for the Passover) and not necessarily to Yom Shishi (Friday, Preparation Day for Sabbath
Biblical Sabbath
Sabbath in the Bible is usually a weekly day of rest and time of worship. The Sabbath is first mentioned in the Genesis creation narrative. The seventh day is there set aside as a day of rest—the Sabbath. It is observed differently in Judaism and Christianity and informs a similar occasion in...

) and that the priests' desire to be ritually pure in order to "eat the passover" refers to eating the Passover lamb, not to the public offerings made during the days of Unleavened Bread.

In the early Church

The first Christians, Jewish
Jewish Christians
Jewish Christians is a term which appears in historical texts contrasting Christians of Jewish origin with Gentile Christians, both in discussion of the New Testament church and the second and following centuries....

 and Gentile, were certainly aware of the Hebrew calendar
Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

 , but there is no direct evidence that they celebrated any specifically Christian annual festivals. Direct evidence for the Easter festival begins to appear in the mid-2nd century. Perhaps the earliest extant primary source referencing Easter is a mid-2nd century Paschal homily
Homily
A homily is a commentary that follows a reading of scripture. In Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox Churches, a homily is usually given during Mass at the end of the Liturgy of the Word...

 attributed to Melito of Sardis
Melito of Sardis
Melito of Sardis was the bishop of Sardis near Smyrna in western Anatolia, and a great authority in Early Christianity: Jerome, speaking of the Old Testament canon established by Melito, quotes Tertullian to the effect that he was esteemed a prophet by many of the faithful...

, which characterizes the celebration as a well-established one. Evidence for another kind of annual Christian festival, the commemoration of martyrs, begins to appear at about the same time as evidence for the celebration of Easter. But while martyrs' days (usually the individual dates of martyrdom) were celebrated on fixed dates in the local solar calendar, the date of Easter was fixed by means of the local Jewish lunisolar calendar. This is consistent with the celebration of Easter having entered Christianity during its earliest, Jewish period, but does not leave the question free of doubt.

The ecclesiastical historian Socrates Scholasticus
Socrates Scholasticus
Socrates of Constantinople, also known as Socrates Scholasticus, not to be confused with the Greek philosopher Socrates, was a Greek Christian church historian, a contemporary of Sozomen and Theodoret, who used his work; he was born at Constantinople c. 380: the date of his death is unknown...

 (b. 380) attributes the observance of Easter by the church to the perpetuation of its custom, "just as many other customs have been established," stating that neither Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 nor his Apostles enjoined the keeping of this or any other festival. Although he describes the details of the Easter celebration as deriving from local custom, he insists the feast itself is universally observed.

Second-century controversy

By the later 2nd century, it was accepted that the celebration of Pascha (Easter) was a practice of the disciples
Disciple (Christianity)
In Christianity, the disciples were the students of Jesus during his ministry. While Jesus attracted a large following, the term disciple is commonly used to refer specifically to "the Twelve", an inner circle of men whose number perhaps represented the twelve tribes of Israel...

 and an undisputed tradition. The Quartodeciman
Quartodecimanism
Quartodecimanism refers to the custom of some early Christians celebrating Passover beginning with the eve of the 14th day of Nisan , which at dusk is Biblically the "Lord's passover".The modern Jewish Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread is seven days, starting with the sunset at...

 controversy, the first of several Paschal/Easter controversies
Easter controversy
The Easter controversy is a series of controversies about the proper date to celebrate the Christian holiday of Easter. To date, there are four distinct historical phases of the dispute and the dispute has yet to be resolved...

, then arose concerning the date on which Pascha should be celebrated.

The term "Quartodeciman" refers to the practice of celebrating Pascha or Easter on Nisan
Nisan
Nisan is the first month of the ecclesiastical year and the seventh month of the civil year, on the Hebrew calendar. The name of the month is Babylonian; in the Torah it is called the month of the Aviv, referring to the month in which barley was ripe. It is a spring month of 30 days...

 14 of the Hebrew calendar
Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

, "the 's passover" . According to the church historian Eusebius
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

, the Quartodeciman Polycarp
Polycarp
Saint Polycarp was a 2nd century Christian bishop of Smyrna. According to the Martyrdom of Polycarp, he died a martyr, bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to touch him...

 (bishop of Smyrna, by tradition a disciple of John the Evangelist
John the Evangelist
Saint John the Evangelist is the conventional name for the author of the Gospel of John...

) debated the question with Anicetus
Pope Anicetus
Pope Saint Anicetus was Pope of the Catholic Church from about 150 to about 167 . His name is Greek for unconquered...

 (bishop of Rome). The Roman province of Asia was Quartodeciman, while the Roman and Alexandrian churches continued the fast until the Sunday following, wishing to associate Easter with Sunday. Neither Polycarp nor Anicetus persuaded the other, but they did not consider the matter schismatic
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

 either, parting in peace and leaving the question unsettled.

Controversy arose when Victor
Pope Victor I
Pope Saint Victor I was Pope from 189 to 199 .Pope Victor I was the first bishop of Rome born in the Roman Province of Africa: probably he was born in Leptis Magna . He was later canonized...

, bishop of Rome a generation after Anicetus, attempted to excommunicate Polycrates of Ephesus
Polycrates of Ephesus
Polycrates of Ephesus was an Early Christian bishop who resided in Ephesus.Roberts and Donaldson noted that Polycrates "belonged to a family in which he was the eighth Christian bishop; and he presided over the church of Ephesus, in which the traditions of St. John were yet fresh in men's minds at...

 and all other bishops of Asia for their Quartodecimanism. According to Eusebius, a number of synods were convened to deal with the controversy, which he regarded as all ruling in support of Easter on Sunday. Polycrates (c. 190), however wrote to Victor defending the antiquity of Asian Quartodecimanism. Victor's attempted excommunication was apparently rescinded and the two sides reconciled upon the intervention of bishop Irenaeus
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

 and others, who reminded Victor of the tolerant precedent of Anicetus.

Quartodecimanism seems to have lingered into the 4th century, when Socrates of Constantinople recorded that some Quartodecimans were deprived of their churches by John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom , Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic...

 and that some were harassed by Nestorius
Nestorius
Nestorius was Archbishop of Constantinople from 10 April 428 to 22 June 431.Drawing on his studies at the School of Antioch, his teachings, which included a rejection of the long-used title of Theotokos for the Virgin Mary, brought him into conflict with other prominent churchmen of the time,...

.

Third/fourth-century controversy and Council

It is not known how long the Nisan 14 practice continued. But both those who followed the Nisan 14 custom, and those who set Easter to the following Sunday (the Sunday of Unleavened Bread) had in common the custom of consulting their Jewish neighbors to learn when the month of Nisan would fall, and setting their festival accordingly. By the later 3rd century, however, some Christians began to express dissatisfaction with the custom of relying on the Jewish community to determine the date of Easter. The chief complaint was that the Jewish communities sometimes erred in setting Passover to fall before the northern hemisphere
Northern Hemisphere
The Northern Hemisphere is the half of a planet that is north of its equator—the word hemisphere literally means “half sphere”. It is also that half of the celestial sphere north of the celestial equator...

 spring equinox. Anatolius of Laodicea in the later 3rd century wrote:


Those who place [the first lunar month of the year] in [the twelfth zodiacal sign before the spring equinox] and fix the Paschal fourteenth day accordingly, make a great and indeed an extraordinary mistake

Peter, bishop of Alexandria (died 312), had a similar complaint


On the fourteenth day of [the month], being accurately observed after the equinox, the ancients celebrated the Passover, according to the divine command. Whereas the men of the present day now celebrate it before the equinox, and that altogether through negligence and error.


The Sardica paschal table
Sardica paschal table
The Sardica paschal table or Sardica document is a document from a Latin manuscript of the 7th/8th century AD. It is a copy in Latin translation of the creed of the Eastern Christian bishops attending the Council of Sardica who, fearing that their deliberations would be dominated by Western...

 confirms these complaints, for it indicates that the Jews of some eastern Mediterranean city (possibly Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

) fixed Nisan 14 on March 11 (Julian) in AD 328, on March 5 in AD 334, on March 2 in AD 337, and on March 10 in AD 339, all well before the spring equinox.

Because of this dissatisfaction with reliance on the Jewish calendar, some Christians began to experiment with independent computations. Others, however, felt that the customary practice of consulting Jews should continue, even if the Jewish computations were in error. A version of the Apostolic Constitutions
Apostolic Constitutions
The Apostolic Constitutions is a Christian collection of eight treatises which belongs to genre of the Church Orders. The work can be dated from 375 to 380 AD. The provenience is usually regarded as Syria, probably Antioch...

 used by the sect of the Audiani advised:


Do not do your own computations, but instead observe Passover when your brethren from the circumcision
Circumcision controversy in early Christianity
There is evidence of a controversy over religious male circumcision in Early Christianity. A Council of Jerusalem, possibly held in approximately 50 AD, decreed that male circumcision was not a requirement for Gentile converts. This became known as the "Apostolic Decree" and may be one of the...

 do. If they err [in the computation], it is no matter to you....


Two other objections that some Christians may have had to maintaining the custom of consulting the Jewish community in order to determine Easter are implied in Constantine's letter from the Council of Nicea to the absent bishops:


It appeared an unworthy thing that in the celebration of this most holy feast we should follow the practice of the Jews...For we have it in our power, if we abandon their custom, to prolong the due observance of this ordinance to future ages by a truer order...For their boast is absurd indeed, that it is not in our power without instruction from them to observe these things....Being altogether ignorant of the true adjustment of this question, they sometimes celebrate Passover twice in the same year.


The reference to Passover twice in the same year might refer to the geographical diversity that existed at that time in the Jewish calendar, due in large measure to the breakdown of communications in the Empire. Jews in one city might determine Passover differently from Jews in another city. The reference to the Jewish "boast", and, indeed, the strident anti-Jewish tone of the whole passage, suggests another issue: some Christians thought that it was undignified for Christians to depend on Jews to set the date of a Christian festival.

This controversy between those who advocated independent computations, and those who wished to continue the custom of relying on the Jewish calendar, was formally resolved by the First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 in 325 (see below), which endorsed the move to independent computations, effectively requiring the abandonment of the old custom of consulting the Jewish community in those places where it was still used. That the older custom (called "protopaschite" by historians) did not at once die out, but persisted for a time, is indicated by the existence of canons and sermons against it.

Some historians have argued that mid-4th century Roman authorities, in an attempt to enforce the Nicene decision on Easter, attempted to interfere with the Jewish calendar. This theory was developed by S. Liebermann, and is repeated by S. Safrai in the Ben-Sasson History of the Jewish People. This view receives no support, however, in surviving mid-4th century Roman legislation on Jewish matters. The Historian Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, in his Secret History
Secret history
A secret history is a revisionist interpretation of either fictional or real history which is claimed to have been deliberately suppressed, forgotten, or ignored by established scholars.-Secret histories of the real world:...

, claims that the emperor Justinian attempted to interfere with the Jewish calendar in the 6th century, and a modern writer has suggested that this measure may have been directed against the protopaschites. However, none of Justinian's surviving edicts dealing with Jewish matters is explicitly directed against the Jewish calendar, making the interpretation of Procopius's statement a complex matter.

Date

Easter and the holidays that are related to it are moveable feast
Moveable feast
In Christianity, a moveable feast or movable feast is a holy day – a feast day or a fast day – whose date is not fixed to a particular day of the calendar year but moves in response to the date of Easter, the date of which varies according to a complex formula...

s
, in that they do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

 or Julian
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 calendars (both of which follow the cycle of the sun and the seasons). Instead, the date for Easter is determined on a lunisolar calendar
Lunisolar calendar
A lunisolar calendar is a calendar in many cultures whose date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year. If the solar year is defined as a tropical year then a lunisolar calendar will give an indication of the season; if it is taken as a sidereal year then the calendar will...

 similar to the Hebrew calendar
Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

. The First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon
Paschal Full Moon
Notionally, the paschal full moon refers to the ecclesiastical full moon of the northern spring used in the determination of the date of Easter. The name "paschal" is derived from "Pascha", a transliteration of the Greek word, which is itself a transliteration of the Hebrew pesach, both words...

) following the northern hemisphere's vernal equinox. Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on March 21 (even though the equinox occurs, astronomically speaking, on March 20 in most years), and the "Full Moon" is not necessarily the astronomically correct date.

In Western Christianity
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

, using the Gregorian calendar, Easter always falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25, inclusively. The following day, Easter Monday
Easter Monday
Easter Monday is the day after Easter Sunday and is celebrated as a holiday in some largely Christian cultures, especially Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox cultures...

, is a legal holiday in many countries with predominantly Christian traditions.

Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

 bases its calculations on the Julian Calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

. Due to the 13 day difference between the calendars between 1900 and 2099, March 21 corresponds, during the 21st century, to the 3rd of April in the Gregorian Calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

. Easter therefore varies between April 4 and May 8 on the Gregorian calendar (The Julian calendar is no longer used as the civil calendar of the countries where Eastern Christian traditions predominate). Among the Oriental Orthodox
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

 some churches have changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar and the date for Easter as for other fixed and moveable feasts is the same as in the Western church.

The precise date of Easter has at times been a matter for contention. At the First Council of Nicaea in 325 it was decided that all Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 churches would celebrate Easter on the same day, which would be computed independently of any Jewish calculations to determine the date of Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

. It is however probable (though no contemporary account of the Council's decisions has survived) that no method of determining the date was specified by the Council. Epiphanius of Salamis
Epiphanius of Salamis
Epiphanius of Salamis was bishop of Salamis at the end of the 4th century. He is considered a saint and a Church Father by both the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of orthodoxy...

 wrote in the mid-4th century:
:...the emperor...convened a council of 318 bishops...in the city of Nicea...They passed certain ecclesiastical canons at the council besides, and at the same time decreed in regard to the Passover that there must be one unanimous concord on the celebration of God's holy and supremely excellent day. For it was variously observed by people....

In the years following the council, the computational system that was worked out by the church of Alexandria came to be normative. It took a while for the Alexandrian rules to be adopted throughout Christian Europe, however. The Church of Rome continued to use an 84-year lunisolar calendar
Lunisolar calendar
A lunisolar calendar is a calendar in many cultures whose date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year. If the solar year is defined as a tropical year then a lunisolar calendar will give an indication of the season; if it is taken as a sidereal year then the calendar will...

 cycle from the late 3rd century until 457. It then switched to an adaptation by Victorius of the Alexandrian rules. This table was so inaccurate that the Alexandrian rules were adopted in their entirety in the following century. From this time, therefore, all disputes between Alexandria and Rome as to the correct date for Easter cease, as both churches were using identical tables.

Early Christians in Britain and Ireland also used a late 3rd century Roman 84-year cycle. They were suspected of being Quartodecimans
Quartodecimanism
Quartodecimanism refers to the custom of some early Christians celebrating Passover beginning with the eve of the 14th day of Nisan , which at dusk is Biblically the "Lord's passover".The modern Jewish Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread is seven days, starting with the sunset at...

, unjustly because they always kept Easter on a Sunday, although that Sunday could be as early as the fourteenth day of the lunar month. This was replaced by the Alexandrian method in the course of the 7th and 8th centuries. Churches in western continental Europe used a late Roman method until the late 8th century during the reign of Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

, when they finally adopted the Alexandrian method. Since 1582, when the Catholic Church adopted the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

 while the Eastern Orthodox and most Oriental Orthodox Churches retained the Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

, the date on which Easter is celebrated has again differed.

Computations

In 725, Bede
Bede
Bede , also referred to as Saint Bede or the Venerable Bede , was a monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, England, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow , both in the Kingdom of Northumbria...

 succinctly wrote, "The Sunday following the full Moon which falls on or after the equinox
Equinox
An equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth's equator...

 will give the lawful Easter." However, this does not reflect the actual ecclesiastical rules precisely. One reason for this is that the full moon involved (called the Paschal full moon
Paschal Full Moon
Notionally, the paschal full moon refers to the ecclesiastical full moon of the northern spring used in the determination of the date of Easter. The name "paschal" is derived from "Pascha", a transliteration of the Greek word, which is itself a transliteration of the Hebrew pesach, both words...

) is not an astronomical full moon, but the 14th day
Ecclesiastical full moon
An ecclesiastical full moon is the fourteenth day of a lunar month in an ecclesiastical lunar calendar. The ecclesiastical lunar calendar spans the year with lunar months of 30 and 29 days which are intended to approximate the observed phases of the moon...

 of a calendar lunar month. Another difference is that the astronomical vernal equinox
Equinox
An equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth's equator...

 is a natural astronomical phenomenon, which can fall on March 19, 20, or 21, while the ecclesiastical date is fixed by convention on March 21.

In applying the ecclesiastical rules, Christian churches use March 21 as the starting point in determining the date of Easter, from which they find the next full moon, etc. The Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches continue to use the Julian calendar. Their starting point in determining the date of Orthodox Easter is also March 21, but according to the Julian reckoning, which corresponds to April 3 in the Gregorian calendar. In addition, the lunar tables of the Julian calendar are 4 days (sometimes 5 days) behind those of the Gregorian calendar. The 14th day of the lunar month according to the Gregorian system is only the 9th or 10th day according to the Julian. The result of this combination of solar and lunar discrepancies is divergence in the date of Easter in most years. (see table)

Easter is determined on the basis of lunisolar
Lunisolar calendar
A lunisolar calendar is a calendar in many cultures whose date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year. If the solar year is defined as a tropical year then a lunisolar calendar will give an indication of the season; if it is taken as a sidereal year then the calendar will...

 cycles. The lunar year consists of 30-day and 29-day lunar months, generally alternating, with an embolismic month added periodically to bring the lunar cycle into line with the solar cycle. In each solar year (January 1 to December 31 inclusive), the lunar month beginning with an ecclesiastical new moon
Ecclesiastical new moon
An ecclesiastical new moon is the first day of a lunar month in an ecclesiastical lunar calendar. Such months have a whole number of days, 29 or 30, whereas true synodic months can vary from about 29.27 to 29.83 days in length. Medieval authors equated the ecclesiastical new moon with a new...

 falling in the 29-day period from March 8 to April 5 inclusive is designated as the paschal lunar month for that year. Easter is the 3rd Sunday in the paschal lunar month, or, in other words, the Sunday after the paschal lunar month's 14th day. The 14th of the paschal lunar month is designated by convention as the Paschal full moon
Paschal Full Moon
Notionally, the paschal full moon refers to the ecclesiastical full moon of the northern spring used in the determination of the date of Easter. The name "paschal" is derived from "Pascha", a transliteration of the Greek word, which is itself a transliteration of the Hebrew pesach, both words...

, although the 14th of the lunar month may differ from the date of the astronomical full moon by up to two days. Since the ecclesiastical new moon falls on a date from March 8 to April 5 inclusive, the paschal full moon (the 14th of that lunar month) must fall on a date from March 21 to April 18 inclusive.

Accordingly, Gregorian Easter can fall on 35 possible dates—between March 22 and April 25 inclusive. It last fell on March 22 in 1818, and will not do so again until 2285. It fell on March 23 in 2008, but will not do so again until 2160. Easter last fell on the latest possible date, April 25, in 1943 and will next fall on that date in 2038. However, it fell on April 24, just one day before this latest possible date, in 2011 and will not do so again until 2095. The cycle of Easter dates repeats after exactly 5,700,000 years, with April 19 being the most common date, happening 220,400 times or 3.9%, compared to the median
Median
In probability theory and statistics, a median is described as the numerical value separating the higher half of a sample, a population, or a probability distribution, from the lower half. The median of a finite list of numbers can be found by arranging all the observations from lowest value to...

 for all dates of 189,525 times or 3.3%.

The Gregorian calculation of Easter was based on a method devised by the Calabria
Calabria
Calabria , in antiquity known as Bruttium, is a region in southern Italy, south of Naples, located at the "toe" of the Italian Peninsula. The capital city of Calabria is Catanzaro....

n doctor Aloysius Lilius
Aloysius Lilius
Aloysius Lilius , also variously referred to as Luigi Lilio, Luigi Giglio, or Aluise Baldassar Lilio, was an Italian doctor, astronomer, philosopher and chronologist, and also the "primary author" who provided the proposal that became the basis of the Gregorian Calendar reform of 1582.The crater...

 (or Lilio) for adjusting the epact
Epact
The epact was originally defined as the age of the moon in days on January 1, and occurs primarily in connection with tabular methods for determining the date of Easter...

s of the moon, and has been adopted by almost all Western Christians and by Western countries who celebrate national holidays at Easter. For the British Empire and colonies, a determination of the date of Easter Sunday using Golden Numbers and Sunday letters was defined by the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750
Calendar (New Style) Act 1750
The Calendar Act 1750 is an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain...

with its Annexe. This was designed to exactly match the Gregorian calculation.

Relationship to date of Passover

In determining the date of the Gregorian and Julian Easter a lunisolar cycle is followed. In determining the date of the Jewish Passover
Passover
Passover is a Jewish holiday and festival. It commemorates the story of the Exodus, in which the ancient Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt...

 a lunisolar calendar is also used, and because Easter always falls on a Sunday it usually falls up to a week after the first day of Passover (Nisan
Nisan
Nisan is the first month of the ecclesiastical year and the seventh month of the civil year, on the Hebrew calendar. The name of the month is Babylonian; in the Torah it is called the month of the Aviv, referring to the month in which barley was ripe. It is a spring month of 30 days...

 15 in the Hebrew calendar
Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

). However, the differences in the rules between the Hebrew and Gregorian cycles results in Passover falling about a month after Easter in three years of the 19-year cycle. These occur in years 3, 11, and 14 of the Gregorian 19-year cycle (corresponding respectively to years 19, 8, and 11 of the Jewish 19-year cycle).

The reason for the difference is the different scheduling of embolismic months in the two cycles.

In addition, without changes to either calendar, the frequency of monthly divergence between the two festivals will increase over time as a result of the differences in the implicit solar years: the implicit mean solar year of the Hebrew calendar is 365.2468 days while that of the Gregorian calendar is 365.2425 days. In years 2200-2299, for example, the start of Passover will be about a month later than Gregorian Easter in four years out of nineteen.

Since in the modern Hebrew calendar Nisan 15 can never fall on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, the seder
Passover Seder
The Passover Seder is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. It is conducted on the evenings of the 14th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, and on the 15th by traditionally observant Jews living outside Israel. This corresponds to late March or April in...

of Nisan 15 never falls on the night of Maundy Thursday. The second seder, observed in some Jewish communities on the second night of Passover can, however, occur on Thursday night.

Because the Julian calendar's implicit solar year has drifted further over the centuries than those of the Gregorian or Hebrew calendars, Julian Easter is a lunation later than Gregorian Easter in five years out of nineteen, namely years 3, 8, 11, 14, and 19 of the Christian cycle. This means that it is a lunation later than Jewish Passover in two years out of nineteen, years 8 and 19 of the Christian cycle. Furthermore, because the Julian calendar's lunar age is now about 4 to 5 days behind the mean lunations, Julian Easter always follows the start of Passover. This cumulative effect of the errors in the Julian calendar's solar year and lunar age has led to the often-repeated, but false, belief that the Julian cycle includes an explicit rule requiring Easter always to follow Jewish Passover.

Reform of the date

An Orthodox congress of Eastern Orthodox bishops met in Istanbul in 1923 under the presidency of Patriarch Meletios IV
Patriarch Meletius IV of Constantinople
Meletius IV was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 1921 to 1923. He also served as Greek Patriarch of Alexandria under the episcopal name Meletius II from 1926 to 1935...

, where the bishops agreed to the Revised Julian calendar
Revised Julian calendar
The Revised Julian calendar, also known as the Rectified Julian calendar, or, less formally, New calendar, is a calendar, originated in 1923, which effectively discontinued the 340 years of divergence between the naming of dates sanctioned by those Eastern Orthodox churches adopting it and the...

. This congress did not have representatives from the remaining Orthodox members of the original Pentarchy
Pentarchy
Pentarchy is a term in the history of Christianity for the idea of universal rule over all Christendom by the heads of five major episcopal sees, or patriarchates, of the Roman Empire: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem...

 (the Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria) or from the largest Orthodox church, the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

, then under persecution from the Bolsheviks, but only effective representation from the Patriarch of Constantinople
Patriarch of Constantinople
The Ecumenical Patriarch is the Archbishop of Constantinople – New Rome – ranking as primus inter pares in the Eastern Orthodox communion, which is seen by followers as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church....

 and the Patriarch of Serbia
Patriarch of Serbia
This is a list of the Archbishops and Patriarchs of Peć and the Serbs from the creation of the church as an archdiocese in 1219 to today's Patriarchate. The list includes all the Archbishops and Patriarchs that led the Serbian Orthodox community under Patriarchate of Peć...

. The original form of this calendar would have determined Easter using precise astronomical calculations based on the meridian of Jerusalem
Jerusalem in Christianity
For Christians, Jerusalem's place in the ministry of Jesus and the Apostolic Age gives it great importance, in addition to its place in the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible.-Jerusalem in the New Testament and early Christianity:...

. However, all the Eastern Orthodox countries that subsequently adopted the Revised Julian calendar adopted only that part of the revised calendar that applied to festivals falling on fixed dates in the Julian calendar. The revised Easter computation that had been part of the original 1923 agreement was never permanently implemented in any Orthodox diocese.

At a summit in Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, in 1997, the World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

 (WCC) proposed a reform in the calculation of Easter which would have replaced the present divergent practices of calculating Easter with modern scientific knowledge taking into account actual astronomical instances of the spring equinox and full moon based on the meridian of Jerusalem, while also following the Council of Nicea position of Easter being on the Sunday following the full moon. The WCC presented comparative data of the relationships:
Notes: 1. Astronomical Easter is the first Sunday after the Astronomical full moon.
2. Passover commences at sunset preceding the date indicated.


The recommended World Council of Churches changes would have side-stepped the calendar issues and eliminated the difference in date between the Eastern and Western churches. The reform was proposed for implementation starting in 2001, but it was not ultimately adopted by any member body.

A few clergy of various denominations have advanced the notion of disregarding the moon altogether in determining the date of Easter. Their proposals include always observing Easter on the second Sunday in April, or always having seven Sundays between the Epiphany and Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday, in the calendar of Western Christianity, is the first day of Lent and occurs 46 days before Easter. It is a moveable fast, falling on a different date each year because it is dependent on the date of Easter...

, producing the same result except that in leap years Easter could fall on April 7. These suggestions have not attracted significant support, and their adoption in the future is considered unlikely.

In the United Kingdom, the Easter Act 1928
Easter Act 1928
The Easter Act 1928 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom first passed in 1928 but not implemented.The purpose of the Act is to provide a fixed date for Easter rather than the current moveable feast...

 set out legislation to allow the date of Easter to be fixed as the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April (or, in other words, the Sunday in the period from April 9 to April 15). However, the legislation has not been implemented, although it remains on the Statute book and could be implemented subject to approval by the various Christian churches.

Western Christianity

In Western Christianity, Easter marks the end of Lent
Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

, a period of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter, which begins on Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday, in the calendar of Western Christianity, is the first day of Lent and occurs 46 days before Easter. It is a moveable fast, falling on a different date each year because it is dependent on the date of Easter...

 and lasts forty days (not counting Sundays).

The week before Easter, known as Holy Week
Holy Week
Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter...

, is very special in the Christian tradition. The Sunday before Easter is Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four Canonical Gospels. ....

 and the last three days before Easter are Maundy Thursday
Maundy Thursday
Maundy Thursday, also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great & Holy Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries, is the Christian feast or holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels...

 or Holy Thursday, Good Friday
Good Friday
Good Friday , is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of...

 and Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday , sometimes known as Easter Eve or Black Saturday, is the day after Good Friday. It is the day before Easter and the last day of Holy Week in which Christians prepare for Easter...

 (sometimes referred to as Silent Saturday). Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday respectively commemorate Jesus' entry in Jerusalem, the Last Supper
Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "communion" or "the Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians is...

 and the Crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are sometimes referred to as the Easter Triduum
Easter Triduum
Easter Triduum, Holy Triduum, or Paschal Triduum is the period of three days that begins with the Mass of the Lord's Supper on the evening of Maundy Thursday and ends with evening prayer on Easter Sunday...

 (Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 for "Three Days"). In some countries, Easter lasts two days, with the second called "Easter Monday
Easter Monday
Easter Monday is the day after Easter Sunday and is celebrated as a holiday in some largely Christian cultures, especially Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox cultures...

". The week beginning with Easter Sunday is called Easter Week
Easter Week
Easter Week is the period of seven days from Easter Sunday through the Saturday following.-Western Church:In the Latin Rite of Roman Catholicism, Anglican and other Western churches, Easter Week is the week beginning with the Christian feast of Easter and ending a week later on Easter Saturday...

 or the Octave of Easter
Octave of Easter
The term Octave of Easter may refer either to the eight day period from Easter Sunday until the Sunday following Easter, inclusive; or it may refer only to that Sunday after Easter, the Octave Day of Easter . That Sunday is also known historically as St...

, and each day is prefaced with "Easter", e.g. Easter Monday, Easter Tuesday, etc. Easter Saturday
Easter Saturday
Easter Saturday, or Bright Saturday, is the Saturday following the Christian festival of Easter. In the liturgy of Western Christianity it is the last day of Easter Week, sometimes referred to as the Saturday of Easter Week or Saturday in Easter Week. In the liturgy of Eastern Christianity it is...

 is therefore the Saturday after Easter Sunday. The day before Easter is properly called Holy Saturday. Many churches begin celebrating Easter late in the evening of Holy Saturday at a service called the Easter Vigil
Easter Vigil
The Easter Vigil, also called the Paschal Vigil or the Great Vigil of Easter, is a service held in many Christian churches as the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. Historically, it is during this service that people are baptized and that adult catechumens are received into...

.

Eastertide
Eastertide
Eastertide, or the Easter Season, or Paschal Time, is the period of fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday.It is celebrated as a single joyful feast, indeed as the "great Lord's Day". Each Sunday of the season is treated as a Sunday of Easter, and, after the Sunday of the Resurrection,...

, or Paschaltide, the season of Easter, begins on Easter Sunday and lasts until the day of Pentecost
Pentecost
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

, seven weeks later.

Eastern Christianity

In Eastern Christianity, the spiritual preparation for Pascha begins with Great Lent
Great Lent
Great Lent, or the Great Fast, is the most important fasting season in the church year in Eastern Christianity, which prepares Christians for the greatest feast of the church year, Pascha . In many ways Great Lent is similar to Lent in Western Christianity...

, which starts on Clean Monday
Clean Monday
Clean Monday , also known as Pure Monday, Ash Monday, Monday of Lent or Green Monday, is the first day of the Eastern Orthodox Christian and Eastern Catholic Great Lent...

 and lasts for 40 continuous days (including Sundays). The last week of Great Lent (following the fifth Sunday of Great Lent) is called Palm Week, and ends with Lazarus Saturday
Lazarus Saturday
Lazarus Saturday, in the Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite, is the day before Palm Sunday, and is liturgically linked to it...

. The Vespers
Vespers
Vespers is the evening prayer service in the Western Catholic, Eastern Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran liturgies of the canonical hours...

 which begins Lazarus Saturday officially brings Great Lent to a close, although the fast continues through the following week. After Lazarus Saturday comes Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four Canonical Gospels. ....

, Holy Week
Holy Week
Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter...

, and finally Pascha itself, and the fast is broken immediately after the Paschal Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...

.

The Paschal Vigil begins with the Midnight Office
Midnight Office
The Midnight Office is one of the Canonical Hours that compose the cycle of daily worship in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The office originated as a purely monastic devotion inspired by Psalm 118:62, At midnight I arose to give thanks unto Thee for the judgments of Thy righteousness , and also by...

, which is the last service of the Lenten Triodion and is timed so that it ends a little before midnight on Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday , sometimes known as Easter Eve or Black Saturday, is the day after Good Friday. It is the day before Easter and the last day of Holy Week in which Christians prepare for Easter...

 night. At the stroke of midnight the Paschal celebration itself begins, consisting of Paschal Matins
Matins
Matins is the early morning or night prayer service in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox liturgies of the canonical hours. The term is also used in some Protestant denominations to describe morning services.The name "Matins" originally referred to the morning office also...

, Paschal Hours
Paschal Hours
The Paschal Hours are the form in which the Little Hours are chanted on Pascha and throughout Bright Week in the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite.Specifically, the Paschal Hours replace:...

, and Paschal Divine Liturgy. Placing the Paschal Divine Liturgy at midnight guarantees that no Divine Liturgy will come earlier in the morning, ensuring its place as the pre-eminent "Feast of Feasts" in the liturgical year
Liturgical year
The liturgical year, also known as the church year, consists of the cycle of liturgical seasons in Christian churches which determines when feast days, including celebrations of saints, are to be observed, and which portions of Scripture are to be read. Distinct liturgical colours may appear in...

.

The liturgical season from Pascha to the Sunday of All Saints
All Saints
All Saints' Day , often shortened to All Saints, is a solemnity celebrated on 1 November by parts of Western Christianity, and on the first Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Christianity, in honour of all the saints, known and unknown...

 (the Sunday after Pentecost
Pentecost
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

) is known as the Pentecostarion
Pentecostarion
The Pentecostarion is the liturgical book used by the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite during the Paschal Season which extends from Pascha to the Sunday following All Saints Sunday The Pentecostarion (Greek: Πεντηκοστάριον, Pentekostárion; Slavonic:...

 (the "fifty days"). The week which begins on Easter Sunday is called Bright Week
Bright Week
Bright Week or Renewal Week is the name used by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine Rite for the period of seven days beginning on Pascha and continuing up to the following Sunday, which is known as Thomas Sunday...

, during which there is no fasting, even on Wednesday and Friday. The Afterfeast
Afterfeast
An Afterfeast is a period of celebration attached to one of the Great Feasts celebrated by the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches ....

 of Pascha lasts 39 days, with its Apodosis
Afterfeast
An Afterfeast is a period of celebration attached to one of the Great Feasts celebrated by the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches ....

 (leave-taking) on the day before Ascension. Pentecost Sunday is the fiftieth day from Pascha (counted inclusively).

Although the Pentecostarion ends on the Sunday of All Saints, Pascha's influence continues throughout the following year, determining the daily Epistle
Epistle
An epistle is a writing directed or sent to a person or group of people, usually an elegant and formal didactic letter. The epistle genre of letter-writing was common in ancient Egypt as part of the scribal-school writing curriculum. The letters in the New Testament from Apostles to Christians...

 and Gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

 readings at the Divine Liturgy, the Tone of the Week
Octoechos (liturgy)
The Octoechos —literally, the book "of the Eight Tones"—contains an eight-week cycle, providing texts to be chanted for every day at Vespers, Matins, the Divine Liturgy, Compline and the Midnight Office...

, and the Matins Gospels all the way through to the next year's Lazarus Saturday.

Western Christianity

The Easter festival is kept in many different ways among Western Christians. The traditional, liturgical
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 observation of Easter, as practised among Roman Catholics
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 and some Lutherans and Anglicans begins on the night of Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday , sometimes known as Easter Eve or Black Saturday, is the day after Good Friday. It is the day before Easter and the last day of Holy Week in which Christians prepare for Easter...

 with the Easter Vigil
Easter Vigil
The Easter Vigil, also called the Paschal Vigil or the Great Vigil of Easter, is a service held in many Christian churches as the first official celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus. Historically, it is during this service that people are baptized and that adult catechumens are received into...

. This, the most important liturgy of the year, begins in total darkness with the blessing of the Easter fire, the lighting of the large Paschal candle
Paschal candle
The Paschal candle is a large, white candle used at liturgy in the Western Rites of Christianity . A new Paschal candle is blessed and lit every year at Easter, and is used throughout the Paschal season which is during Easter and then throughout the year on special occasions, such as baptisms and...

 (symbolic of the Risen Christ) and the chanting of the Exultet
Exultet
The Exsultet or Easter Proclamation, in Latin Praeconium Paschale, is the hymn of praise sung, ideally by the deacon, before the paschal candle during the Easter Vigil in the Roman Rite of Mass. In the absence of a deacon, it may be sung by a priest, or by a cantor...

 or Easter Proclamation attributed to Saint Ambrose of Milan. After this service of light, a number of readings from the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 are read; these tell the stories of creation, the sacrifice of Isaac
Isaac
Isaac as described in the Hebrew Bible, was the only son Abraham had with his wife Sarah, and was the father of Jacob and Esau. Isaac was one of the three patriarchs of the Israelites...

, the crossing of the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

, and the foretold coming of the Messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

. This part of the service climaxes with the singing of the Gloria
Gloria in Excelsis Deo
"Gloria in excelsis Deo" is the title and beginning of a hymn known also as the Greater Doxology and the Angelic Hymn. The name is often abbreviated to Gloria in Excelsis or simply Gloria.It is an example of the psalmi idiotici "Gloria in excelsis Deo" (Latin for "Glory to God in the highest")...

 and the Alleluia
Alleluia
The word "Alleluia" or "Hallelujah" , which at its most literal means "Praise Yah", is used in different ways in Christian liturgies....

 and the proclamation of the Gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

 of the resurrection
Resurrection
Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

. At this time, the lights are brought up and the church bells are rung, according to local custom. A sermon
Sermon
A sermon is an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy. Sermons address a Biblical, theological, religious, or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law or behavior within both past and present contexts...

 may be preached after the gospel. Then the focus moves from the lectern
Lectern
A lectern is a reading desk with a slanted top, usually placed on a stand or affixed to some other form of support, on which documents or books are placed as support for reading aloud, as in a scripture reading, lecture, or sermon...

 to the font
Baptismal font
A baptismal font is an article of church furniture or a fixture used for the baptism of children and adults.-Aspersion and affusion fonts:...

. Anciently, Easter was considered the ideal time for converts to receive baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

, and this practice continues within Roman Catholicism and the Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

. Whether there are baptisms at this point or not, it is traditional for the congregation to renew the vows of their baptismal faith. This act is often sealed by the sprinkling of the congregation with holy water
Holy water
Holy water is water that, in Catholicism, Anglicanism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, Oriental Orthodoxy, and some other churches, has been sanctified by a priest for the purpose of baptism, the blessing of persons, places, and objects; or as a means of repelling evil.The use for baptism and...

 from the font. The Catholic sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

 of Confirmation is also celebrated at the Vigil.

The Easter Vigil concludes with the celebration of the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 (known in some traditions as Holy Communion). Certain variations in the Easter Vigil exist: Some churches read the Old Testament lessons before the procession of the Paschal candle, and then read the gospel immediately after the Exsultet. Some churches prefer to keep this vigil very early on the Sunday morning instead of the Saturday night, particularly Protestant churches, to reflect the gospel account of the women coming to the tomb at dawn on the first day of the week. These services are known as the Sunrise service
Sunrise service
Sunrise service is a worship service on Easter. It takes the place of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran tradition of the Easter Vigil, and is practised mainly by Protestant churches...

 and often occur in outdoor setting such as the church cemetery, yard, or a nearby park.

The first recorded "Sunrise Service" took place in 1732 among the Single Brethren in the Moravian Congregation at Herrnhut
Herrnhut
Herrnhut is a municipality in the district of Görlitz, in the Free State of Saxony, Germany.It has access to Bundesstraße 178 between Löbau and Zittau...

, Saxony
Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

, in what is now Germany. Following an all-night vigil
Vigil
A vigil is a period of purposeful sleeplessness, an occasion for devotional watching, or an observance...

 they went before dawn to the town graveyard, God's Acre
God's Acre
God's Acre is an ancient Germanic designation for a burial ground. In his poem "God's-Acre," Henry Wadsworth Longfellow attributes the term to ancient Saxons.-In Christianity:...

, on the hill above the town, to celebrate the Resurrection among the graves of the departed. This service was repeated the following year by the whole congregation and subsequently spread with the Moravian Missionaries around the world, including Old Salem
Old Salem
Old Salem is a historic district of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It features a living history museum that interprets the restored Moravian community. The non-profit organization began its work in 1950, although some private residents had restored buildings earlier...

 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

.

Additional celebrations are usually offered on Easter Sunday itself. Typically these services follow the usual order of Sunday services in a congregation, but also typically incorporate more highly festive elements. The music of the service, in particular, often displays a highly festive tone; the incorporation of brass instruments (trumpets, etc.) to supplement a congregation's usual instrumentation is common. Often a congregation's worship space is decorated with special banners and flowers (such as Easter lilies
Lilium longiflorum
Lilium longiflorum, often called the Easter lily or November lily, is a plant native to the Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan. It is a stem rooting lily, growing up to 1 m high. It bears a number of trumpet shaped, white, fragrant, and outward facing flowers.-Cultivation:A variety of it, L. longiflorum var...

).

In predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, the morning of Easter (known in the national language as "Pasko ng Muling Pagkabuhay" or the Pasch of the Resurrection) is marked with joyous celebration, the first being the dawn "Salubong", wherein large statues of Jesus and Mary are brought together to meet, imagining the first reunion of Jesus and his mother Mary after Jesus' Resurrection. This is followed by the joyous Easter Mass.

In Polish culture, The Rezurekcja (Resurrection Procession) is the joyous Easter morning Mass at daybreak when church bells ring out and explosions resound to commemorate Christ rising from the dead. Before the Mass begins at dawn, a festive procession with the Blessed Sacrament carried beneath a canopy encircles the church. As church bells ring out, handbells are vigorously shaken by altar boys, the air is filled with incense and the faithful raise their voices heavenward in a triumphant rendering of age-old Easter hymns. After the Blessed Sacrament is carried around the church and Adoration is complete, the Easter Mass begins. Another Polish Easter tradition is Święconka
Swieconka
Święconka , meaning "the blessing of the Easter baskets," is one of the most enduring and beloved Polish traditions on Holy Saturday. While originally observed by Polish Americans in the U.S., it has become increasingly mainstream in U.S and is starting to grow in the U.K. as the Polish go there...

, the blessing of Easter baskets by the parish priest on Holy Saturday. This custom is celebrated not only in Poland, but also in the United States by Polish-Americans.

Eastern Christianity

Pascha is the fundamental and most important festival of the Eastern and Oriental
Oriental Orthodoxy
Oriental Orthodoxy is the faith of those Eastern Christian Churches that recognize only three ecumenical councils — the First Council of Nicaea, the First Council of Constantinople and the First Council of Ephesus. They rejected the dogmatic definitions of the Council of Chalcedon...

 Orthodox Churches:

This is the Expected and Holy Day,
the One among the Sabbaths,
the Sovereign and Lady of days,
Feast of feasts, Celebration of celebrations,
on which we praise Christ for all eternity!



Every other religious festival in their calendar, including Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

, is secondary in importance to the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is reflected in rich Paschal customs in the cultures of countries that have traditionally had an Orthodox Christian majority. Eastern Catholics have similar emphasis in their calendars, and many of their liturgical customs are very similar.

This is not to say that Christmas and other elements of the Christian liturgical calendar are ignored. Instead, these events are all seen as necessary but preliminary to, and illuminated by, the full climax of the Resurrection, in which all that has come before reaches fulfillment and fruition. They shine only in the light of the Resurrection. Pascha is the primary act that fulfills the purpose of Christ's ministry on earth—to defeat death by dying and to purify and exalt humanity by voluntarily assuming and overcoming human frailty. This is succinctly summarized by the Paschal troparion
Paschal troparion
The Paschal troparion or Christos anesti is the characteristic hymn for the celebration of Pascha in the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite....

, sung repeatedly during Pascha
Passover (Christian holiday)
Christian Passover is a religious observance celebrated by some churches to keep faith with Old Testament teaching. It is often linked to the Christian holiday and festival of Easter. Often, only an abbreviated seder is celebrated to explain the meaning in a time-limited ceremony...

 until the Apodosis
Afterfeast
An Afterfeast is a period of celebration attached to one of the Great Feasts celebrated by the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches ....

 of Pascha, which is the day before Ascension:

Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν,
θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας,
καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι
ζωὴν χαρισάμενος.



Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!



Preparation for Pascha begins with the season of Great Lent
Great Lent
Great Lent, or the Great Fast, is the most important fasting season in the church year in Eastern Christianity, which prepares Christians for the greatest feast of the church year, Pascha . In many ways Great Lent is similar to Lent in Western Christianity...

. In addition to fasting, almsgiving, and prayer, Orthodox Christians cut down on all entertainment and non-essential worldly activities, gradually eliminating them until Great and Holy Friday
Good Friday
Good Friday , is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of...

, the most austere day of the year. Traditionally, on the evening of Great and Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday , sometimes known as Easter Eve or Black Saturday, is the day after Good Friday. It is the day before Easter and the last day of Holy Week in which Christians prepare for Easter...

, the Midnight Office
Midnight Office
The Midnight Office is one of the Canonical Hours that compose the cycle of daily worship in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The office originated as a purely monastic devotion inspired by Psalm 118:62, At midnight I arose to give thanks unto Thee for the judgments of Thy righteousness , and also by...

 is celebrated shortly after 11:00 p.m. (see Paschal Vigil). At its completion all light in the church building is extinguished, and all wait in darkness and silence for the stroke of midnight. Then, a new flame is struck in the altar, or the priest lights his candle from the perpetual lamp
Sanctuary lamp
A sanctuary lamp, altar lamp, everlasting light or eternal flame is a light that shines before the altar of sanctuaries in many denominations of Jewish and Christian places of worship. Prescribed in ] 27:20-21] of the Hebrew Bible, this icon has taken on different meanings in each of the religions...

 kept burning there, and he then lights candles held by deacons or other assistants, who then go to light candles held by the congregation (this practice has its origin in the reception of the Holy Fire
Holy Fire
The Holy Fire is described by Orthodox Christians as a miracle that occurs every year at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on Holy Saturday, the day preceding Orthodox Easter. It is considered by many to be the longest-attested annual miracle in the Christian world...

 at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a few steps away from the Muristan....

 in Jerusalem). Then the priest and congregation go in a Crucession
Crucession
A Crucession, or Cross Procession , is a procession that takes place in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic liturgical traditions. The name derives from the fact that the procession is headed by a cross....

 (procession
Procession
A procession is an organized body of people advancing in a formal or ceremonial manner.-Procession elements:...

 with the cross) around the temple (church building), holding lit candles, chanting:


By Thy Resurrection O Christ our savior,
the angels in Heaven sing,
enable us who are on Earth,
to glorify thee in purity of heart.


This procession reenacts the journey of the Myrrhbearers
Myrrhbearers
In Eastern Orthodoxy the Myrrhbearers are the individuals mentioned in the New Testament who were directly involved in the burial or who discovered the empty tomb following the resurrection of Jesus...

 to the Tomb of Jesus "very early in the morning" . After circling around the temple once or three times, the procession halts in front of the closed doors. In the Greek practice the priest reads a selection from the Gospel Book
Gospel Book
The Gospel Book, Evangelion, or Book of the Gospels is a codex or bound volume containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament...

 . Then, in all traditions, the priest makes the sign of the cross
Sign of the cross
The Sign of the Cross , or crossing oneself, is a ritual hand motion made by members of many branches of Christianity, often accompanied by spoken or mental recitation of a trinitarian formula....

 with the censer in front of the closed doors (which represent the sealed tomb). He and the people chant the Paschal Troparion, and all of the bells
Church bell
A church bell is a bell which is rung in a church either to signify the hour or the time for worshippers to go to church, perhaps to attend a wedding, funeral, or other service...

 and semantra
Semantron
The semantron or semanterion , also called a xylon is a percussion instrument used in monasteries to summon monks to prayer or at the start of a procession.-Origins and use:...

 are sounded. Then all re-enter the temple and Paschal Matins
Matins
Matins is the early morning or night prayer service in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox liturgies of the canonical hours. The term is also used in some Protestant denominations to describe morning services.The name "Matins" originally referred to the morning office also...

 begins immediately, followed by the Paschal Hours
Canonical hours
Canonical hours are divisions of time which serve as increments between the prescribed prayers of the daily round. A Book of Hours contains such a set of prayers....

 and then the Paschal Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...

. The high point of the liturgy is the delivery of Paschal Homily
Paschal Homily
The Paschal homily or sermon of St John Chrysostom is read aloud in every Orthodox church on the morning of Pascha , called "the Great and Holy Pascha of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ" in the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches...

 of St. John Chrysostom, for which the congregation stands.
After the dismissal
Dismissal (liturgy)
The Dismissal is the final blessing said by a Christian priest or minister at the end of a religious service. In liturgical churches the dismissal will often take the form of ritualized words and gestures, such as raising the minister's hands over the congregation, or blessing with the sign of the...

 of the Liturgy, the priest may bless Paschal eggs and baskets brought by the faithful containing those foods which have been forbidden during the Great Fast. Immediately after the Liturgy it is customary for the congregation to share a meal, essentially an Agápē
Agape
Agape is one of the Greek words translated into English as love, one which became particularly appropriated in Christian theology as the love of God or Christ for mankind. In the New Testament, it refers to the fatherly love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God; the term...

 dinner (albeit at 2:00 a.m. or later). In Greece the traditional meal is mageiritsa, a hearty stew of chopped lamb liver and wild greens seasoned with egg-and-lemon sauce. Traditionally, Easter eggs, hard-boiled eggs dyed bright red to symbolize the spilt Blood of Christ
Blood of Christ
The Blood of Christ in Christian theology refers to the physical blood actually shed by Jesus Christ on the Cross, and the salvation which Christianity teaches was accomplished thereby; and the sacramental blood present in the Eucharist, which is considered by Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and...

 and the promise of eternal life, are cracked together to celebrate the opening of the Tomb of Christ.

The next morning, Easter Sunday proper, there is no Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...

, since the Liturgy for that day has already been celebrated. Instead, in the afternoon, it is often traditional to celebrate "Agápē
Agape
Agape is one of the Greek words translated into English as love, one which became particularly appropriated in Christian theology as the love of God or Christ for mankind. In the New Testament, it refers to the fatherly love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God; the term...

 Vespers
Vespers
Vespers is the evening prayer service in the Western Catholic, Eastern Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran liturgies of the canonical hours...

". In this service, it has become customary during the last few centuries for the priest and members of the congregation to read a portion of the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

  (in some places the reading is extended to include verses ) in as many languages as they can manage, to show the universality of the Resurrection.

For the remainder of the week, known as "Bright Week
Bright Week
Bright Week or Renewal Week is the name used by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches of the Byzantine Rite for the period of seven days beginning on Pascha and continuing up to the following Sunday, which is known as Thomas Sunday...

", all fasting is prohibited, and the customary Paschal greeting
Paschal greeting
The Paschal greeting is an Easter custom among Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic Christians, as well as among some Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians...

 is: "Christ is risen!", to which the response is: "Truly He is risen!" This may also be done in many different languages. The services during Bright Week are nearly identical to those on Pascha itself, except that they do not take place at midnight, but at their normal times during the day. The Crucession during Bright Week takes place either after Paschal Matins or the Paschal Divine Liturgy.

Non-observing Christian groups

Along with Christmas celebrations, many Easter traditions ultimately became casualties of the various off-shoots of the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, being deemed "pagan
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

" or "Popish" (and therefore tainted) by many Puritan
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

 movements - although there were some major Reformation Churches and movements (Lutheran, Methodist and Anglican for example), that chose to retain a reasonably full observance of the Church Year and many of its associated traditions. In Lutheran Churches, for example, not only were the days of Holy Week observed, but also Christmas, Easter and Pentecost were observed with three day festivals, including the day itself and the two following.

Among many other Reformation
Reformation
- Movements :* Protestant Reformation, an attempt by Martin Luther to reform the Roman Catholic Church that resulted in a schism, and grew into a wider movement...

 and counter Counter-Reformation
Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

 traditions, however, things were a very different, with most Anabaptists, Quakers, Congregational and Presbyterian Puritans, regarding such festivals as an abomination
Abomination (Bible)
Abomination is an English term used to translate the Biblical Hebrew terms shiqquwts and sheqets, which are derived from shâqats, or the terms , tōʻēḇā or to'e'va or ta'ev...

. The Puritan
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

 rejection of Easter traditions was (and is) based partly upon their interpretation of and partly upon a more general belief that if a religious practice or celebration is not actually written in the Old and/or New Testaments of the Christian Bible then that practice/celebration must be a later development and cannot be considered an authentic part of Christian practice or belief - so at best simply unnecessary, at worst actually "sinful".

Some Christian groups continue to reject the celebration of Easter, due to perceived pagan roots and historical connections to the practices and permissions of the "Roman" Catholic Church. Other "Non conformist" Christian groups that do still celebrate the event prefer to call it "Resurrection Sunday" or "Resurrection Day", for the same reasons as well as a rejection of secular or commercial aspects of the holiday in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

 maintain a similar view, observing a yearly commemorative service of the Last Supper
Last Supper
The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Twelve Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. The Last Supper provides the scriptural basis for the Eucharist, also known as "communion" or "the Lord's Supper".The First Epistle to the Corinthians is...

 and subsequent execution of Christ on the evening of Nisan 14, as they calculate it derived from the lunar Hebrew Calendar
Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

. It is commonly referred to by many Witnesses as simply "The Memorial". Jehovah's Witnesses believe that such verses as and constitute a commandment to remember the death of Christ (and not the resurrection, as only the remembrance of the death was observed by early Christians), and they do so on a yearly basis just as Passover is celebrated yearly by the Jews.

Members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

, as part of their testimony against times and seasons belief, do not celebrate or observe Easter or any other Church holidays, believing instead that "every day is the Lord's day", and that elevation of one day above others suggests that it is acceptable to do un-Christian acts on other days.

Some Christian groups feel that Easter is something to be regarded with great joy: not marking the day itself, but remembering and rejoicing in the event it commemorates—the miracle of Christ's resurrection. In this spirit, these Christians teach that each day and all Sabbaths
Biblical Sabbath
Sabbath in the Bible is usually a weekly day of rest and time of worship. The Sabbath is first mentioned in the Genesis creation narrative. The seventh day is there set aside as a day of rest—the Sabbath. It is observed differently in Judaism and Christianity and informs a similar occasion in...

 should be kept holy, in Christ's teachings. Hebrew-Christian
Jewish Christians
Jewish Christians is a term which appears in historical texts contrasting Christians of Jewish origin with Gentile Christians, both in discussion of the New Testament church and the second and following centuries....

, Sacred Name
Sacred Name Movement
The Sacred Name Movement is a movement within Adventism in Christianity, propagated by Clarence Orvil Dodd from the 1930s, that claims to seek to conform Christianity to its "Hebrew Roots" in practice, belief and worship. The best known distinction of the SNM is its advocacy of the use of the...

, and Armstrong
Armstrongism
Armstrongism refers to the teachings and doctrines of Herbert W. Armstrong while leader of the Worldwide Church of God , and is professed by him and his followers to be the restored true Gospel of the Bible. Armstrong said they were revealed to him by God during his study of the Bible....

 movement churches (such as the Living Church of God
Living Church of God
The Living Church of God is one of the church groups formed by followers of the teachings of the late Herbert W. Armstrong. It was formed as a series of major doctrinal changes were introduced in the Worldwide Church of God after Armstrong's death in 1986...

) usually reject Easter in favor of Nisan 14 observance and celebration of the Christian Passover. This is especially true of Christian groups that celebrate the New Moon
New moon
In astronomical terminology, the new moon is the lunar phase that occurs when the Moon, in its monthly orbital motion around Earth, lies between Earth and the Sun, and is therefore in conjunction with the Sun as seen from Earth...

s or annual High Sabbaths
High Sabbaths
The term High Sabbaths is used by some Christians to refer to the Jewish High Holy Days. There are seven annual Biblical festivals specified in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy.-Biblical rest days:...

 in addition to seventh-day Sabbath. They support this textually with reference to the letter to the Colossians: "Let no one...pass judgment on you in matters of food and drink or with regard to a festival or new moon or sabbath. These are shadows of things to come; the reality belongs to Christ." (Col. 2:16-17, NAB)

See also

  • Easter customs
    Easter customs
    As with other Christian festivals, the celebration of Easter extends beyond the church. Since its origins, it has been a time of celebration and feasting and many Traditional Easter games and customs developed, such as egg rolling, egg tapping, Pace egging and egg decorating...

  • Resurrection of Jesus
    Resurrection of Jesus
    The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

  • Greek words (wiktionary): Πάσχα (Easter) vs πάσχα (Passover) vs πάσχω (to suffer).

Liturgical



Traditions

Calculating
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK