Easter is not only the oldest but also the most important day of a year for the church and Christians. Here are five important facts about this day, which is also known as the Resurrection Sunday.
Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus.
The Gospel of Luke records in chapter 24 verses 2 and 3, "And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus."
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says, "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."
Here are five important facts about Easter.
1. For most Christian believers, Easter is symbolically the most important day.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:17, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins."
The historical fact that Jesus rose from the dead shows that Jesus was not just a good teacher but the Son of God, co-equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, according to the Christian belief.
Jesus predicted His own resurrection. Matthew 16:21 says, "From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."
Jesus promised that all who believe in Him will have eternal life. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
2. Some scholars believe the first Easter was on April 5 (in A.D. 33).
While almost all scholars say Jesus' crucifixion took place in the spring of either A.D. 30 or 33, some have sought to provide the exact date when Jesus died and rose from the dead.
Andreas Köstenberger and Justin Taylor say in their book, The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived, that Jesus was crucified on April 3 A.D. 33, a Friday, and rose from the dead on April 5, a Sunday.
"While other dates are possible, we believers can take great assurance from the fact that the most important historical events in Jesus's life, such as the crucifixion, are firmly anchored in human history," the authors wrote.
3. Easter is now celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the first day of Spring.
According to the Bible, Jesus' death and resurrection took place around the time of the Jewish Passover, observed on the first full moon following the vernal equinox, when the Sun crosses the equator going north. The vernal equinox occurs on March 20, and therefore Easter can fall on a day between March 21 and April 25. This is why the date for Easter differs every year within the Gregorian Calendar.
The criterion to determine the date of Easter dates back to 325 CE at the First Council of Nicaea convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine.
However, some eastern or Orthodox churches use the Julian calendar, according to which Easter falls between April 3 and May 10.
4. Some believe the name Easter comes from a pagan figure.
In his book, De Ratione Temporum, the Venerable Bede, an eighth-century monk and historian, claimed that the name Easter comes from Eostre, a pagan goddess who was celebrated as the goddess of spring by the Saxon people in Northern Europe.
Bede wrote, "Eosturmononath has a name which is now translated as 'Paschal month,' and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honor feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate the Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance."
However, there is no reliable evidence that such a goddess was ever worshiped by anyone.
Scholars later claimed that the name comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "oster," which means "to rise," or from the term they used for the Spring equinox, "Eostre."
What's more important is that all Christians celebrate Jesus' resurrection, irrespective of what they call the day, which is also referred to as Resurrection Sunday.
5. Eggs have been associated with Easter.
In Medieval Europe, Christians didn't eat eggs or meat during the Lent season, so they preserved the eggs laid during the period by boiling them and later gave them away as Easter gifts to children.
However, according to some traditions, eggs symbolize the resurrection of Jesus — the shell representing the sealed tomb.