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What is Easter?

What do Christians Celebrate on Easter?

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Pope Francis Delivers First 'Urbi Et Orbi' Blessing During Easter Mass In St. Peter's Square Franco Origlia/Stringer/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ. It is typically the most well-attended Sunday service of the year for Christian churches.

Christians believe, according to Scripture, that Jesus came back to life, or was raised from the dead, three days after his death on the cross. As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday just before Easter. Through his death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus paid the penalty for sin, thus purchasing for all who believe in him, eternal life in Christ Jesus.

(For a more detailed explanation about his death and resurrection, see Why Did Jesus Have to Die? and Timeline of Jesus' Final Hours.)

Easter Season

In Western Christianity, Easter marks the end of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline in preparation for Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. Eastern Orthodox churches observe Lent or Great Lent, during the 6 weeks or 40 days preceding Palm Sunday with fasting continuing during the Holy Week of Easter. Lent for Eastern Orthodox churches begins on Monday and Ash Wednesday is not observed.

Because of Easter's pagan origins, and also because of the commercialization of Easter, many Christian churches choose to refer to the holiday as Resurrection Day.

Easter in the Bible

The biblical account of Jesus' death on the cross, or crucifixion, his burial and his resurrection, or raising from the dead, can be found in the following passages of Scripture: Matthew 27:27-28:8; Mark 15:16-16:19; Luke 23:26-24:35; and John 19:16-20:30.

Determining the Date of Easter

In Western Christianity, Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon. I had previously, and somewhat erroneously stated, "Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the first full moon after the vernal (spring) equinox." This statement was true prior to 325 AD; however, over the course of history (beginning in 325 AD with the Council of Nicea), the Western Church decided to established a more standardized system for determining the date of Easter.

There are, in fact, as many misunderstandings about the calculation of Easter dates, as there are reasons for confusion. To clear up at least some of the confusion visit:
Why Do the Dates for Easter Change Every Year?

When is Easter 2015? Visit the 2015 Easter Calendar.

More About Easter:
Why Do the Dates of Easter Change Every Year?
Timeline of Jesus' Final Hours
Easter Bible Verses
Easter Devotional: What is My Purpose?
More About Celebrating Easter
More About Fasting and Lent

More About the Passion of Christ:
The Passion of Christ
Top Christian Movies About Easter

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