Easter is the most important annual religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to Christian scripture, Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. Some Christians celebrate this resurrection on Easter Day or Easter Sunday, two days after Good Friday and three days after Maundy Thursday. The chronology of his death and resurrection is variously interpreted to be between AD 26 and AD 36. Easter also refers to the season of the church year called Eastertide or the Easter Season. Traditionally the Easter Season lasted for the forty days from Easter Day until Ascension Day but now officially lasts for the fifty days until Pentecost. The first week of the Easter Season is known as Easter Week or the Octave of Easter. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of fasting, prayer, and penance.
Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The First Council of Nicaea established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on March 21, 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 bases its calculations on the Julian Calendar whose March 21 corresponds, during the twenty-first century, to April 3 in the Gregorian Calendar, in which calendar their celebration of Easter therefore varies between April 4 and May 8.
Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover not only for much of its symbolism but also for its position in the calendar. In most European languages the feast called Easter in English is termed by the words for passover in those languages and in the older English versions of the Bible the term Easter was the term used to translate passover.
When is Easter?
Easter and the holidays that are related to it are moveable feasts, in that they do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars. Instead, the date for Easter is determined on a lunisolar calendar similar to the Hebrew calendar.
In Western Christianity, using the Gregorian calendar, Easter always falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25, inclusively. The following day, Easter Monday, is a legal holiday in many countries with predominantly Christian traditions. In Eastern Orthodox Churches — which continue to use the Julian calendar for religious dating — Easter also falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25, inclusive, of the Julian calendar. In terms of the Gregorian calendar, due to the 13 day difference between the calendars between 1900 and 2099, these dates are between April 4 and May 8, inclusive. Among the Oriental Orthodox 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.
What date did easter fall on in 1990?: April 15
What date did easter fall on in 1991?: March 31
What date did easter fall on in 1992?: April 19
What date did easter fall on in 1993?: April 11
What date did easter fall on in 1994?: April 3
What date did easter fall on in 1995?: April 16
What date did easter fall on in 1996?: April 7
What date did easter fall on in 1997?: March 30
What date did easter fall on in 1998?: April 12
What date did easter fall on in 1999?: April 4
What date did easter fall on in 2000?: April 23
What date did easter fall on in 2001?: April 15
What date did easter fall on in 2002?: March 31
What date did easter fall on in 2003?: April 20
What date did easter fall on in 2004?: April 11
What date did easter fall on in 2005?: March 27
What date did easter fall on in 2006?: April 16
What date did easter fall on in 2007? April 8
What date did easter fall on in 2008? March 23
What date did easter fall on in 2009? April 12
What date did easter fall on in 2010?: April 4
What date will easter fall on in 2011?:April 24
What date will easter fall on in 2012?:April 8
What date will easter fall on in 2013?:March 31
What date will easter fall on in 2014?:April 20
What date will easter fall on in 2015?:April 5
What date will easter fall on in 2016?:March 27
What date will easter fall on in 2017?:April 16
What date will easter fall on in 2018?:April 1
What date will easter fall on in 2019?:April 21
What date will easter fall on in 2020?:April 12
What date will easter fall on in 2021?:April 4
What date will easter fall on in 2022?:April 17
What are some easter traditions?
Throughout the English-speaking world, many Easter traditions are similar with only minor differences. For example, Saturday is traditionally spent decorating Easter eggs and hunting for them with children on Sunday morning, by which time they have been mysteriously hidden all over the house and garden.
Other traditions involve parents telling their children that eggs and other treats such as chocolate eggs or rabbits and marshmallow chicks have been delivered by the Easter Bunny in an Easter basket which children find waiting for them when they wake up. Many families observe the religious aspects of Easter by attending Sunday Mass or services in the morning and then participating in a feast or party in the afternoon. Some families have a traditional Sunday roast, often of either roast lamb or ham. Easter breads such as Simnel cake, a fruit cake with eleven marzipan balls representing the eleven faithful apostles, or nut breads such as potica are traditionally served. Hot cross buns, spiced buns with a cross on top, are traditionally associated with Good Friday, but today are often eaten well before and after.
In Scotland, the north of England, and Northern Ireland, the traditions of rolling decorated eggs down steep hills and pace egging are still adhered to. In Louisiana, USA, egg tapping is known as egg knocking. Marksville, Louisiana claims to host the oldest egg-knocking competition in the US, dating back to the 1950s. Competitors pair up on the steps of the courthouse on Easter Sunday and knock the tips of two eggs together. If the shell of your egg cracks you have to forfeit it, a process that continues until just one egg remains.
In the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, the most notable feature of the Easter celebration is the flying of kites to symbolize Christ’s ascent. Traditional Bermuda kites are constructed by Bermudians of all ages as Easter approaches, and are normally only flown at Easter. In addition to hot cross buns and Easter eggs, fish cakes are traditionally eaten in Bermuda at this time.
Church bells are silent as a sign of mourning for one or more days before Easter in The Netherlands, Belgium and France. This has led to an Easter tradition that says the bells fly out of their steeples to go to Rome, and return on Easter morning bringing both colored eggs and hollow chocolate shaped like eggs or rabbits.
In Norway, in addition to staying at mountain cabins and cross-country skiing in the mountains and painting eggs, a contemporary tradition is to read or watch murder mysteries at Easter.
In both The Netherlands and Flemish-speaking Belgium many of more modern traditions exist alongside the Easter Bell story. The bells leave for Rome on Holy Saturday, called “Stille Zaterdag” in Dutch.
In French-speaking Belgium and France the same story of Easter Bells bringing eggs from Rome is told, but church bells are silent beginning Maundy Thursday, the first day of the Paschal Triduum.
Many central and eastern European ethnic groups, including the Ukrainians, Belarusians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Croats, Czechs, Lithuanians, Poles, Romanians, Serbs, Albanians, Macedonians, Slovaks, and Slovenes decorate eggs for Easter.
History of the Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny or Easter Hare is a character depicted as rabbit bringing Easter eggs. In legend, the creature brings baskets filled with colored eggs, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children on the night before Easter. The Easter Bunny will either put the baskets in a designated place or hide them somewhere in the house or garden for the children to find when they wake up in the morning.
The Easter Bunny as an Easter symbol bringing Easter eggs seems to have its origins in Alsace and the Upper Rhineland, both then in the Holy Roman Empire of German Nation, and southwestern Germany, where it was first recorded in a German publication in the early 1600s.