Easter[nb 1] (Old English usually Ēastrun, -on, or -an; also Ēastru, -o; andĒostre), also called Pasch (derived, through Latin: Pascha and Greek ΠάσχαPaskha, from Aramaic: פסחא, cognate to Hebrew: פֶּסַח Pesah)[nb 2] orResurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday celebrating theresurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by Romans atCalvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded byLent (or Great Lent), a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.
The week before Easter is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of theEaster Triduum, including Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Maundy andLast Supper, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. In western Christianity, Eastertide, the Easter Season, begins on Easter Sunday and lasts seven weeks, ending with the coming of the fiftieth day, Pentecost Sunday. In Orthodoxy, the season of Pascha begins on Pascha and ends with the coming of the fortieth day, the Feast of the Ascension.
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 which follow only the cycle of the sun; rather, its date is determined on a lunisolar calendarsimilar to the Hebrew calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established two rules, independence of the Jewish calendar and worldwide uniformity, which were the only rules for Easter explicitly laid down by the council. No details for the computation were specified; these were worked out in practice, a process that took centuries and generated a number of controversies. It has come to be the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or soonest after 21 March, but calculations vary in East and West. Details of this complicated computation are found below in the section Date.
Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar. In many languages, the words for "Easter" and "Passover" are identical or very similar. Easter customs vary across theChristian world, and include sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting,clipping the church, and decorating Easter eggs, a symbol of the empty tomb. The Easter lily, a symbol of the resurrection, traditionally decorates the chancel area of churches on this day and for the rest of Eastertide. Additional customs that have become associated with Easter and are observed by both Christians and some non-Christians include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades. There are also various traditional Easter foods that vary regionally.
A five-part Russian Orthodox icon depicting the Easter story. Eastern Orthodox Christians use a different computation for the date of Easter than the Western churches.
A stained glass window depicting the Passover Lamb, a concept integral to the foundation of Easter
The Last Supper celebrated by Jesus and his disciples was a Passover Seder. The early Christians too would have celebrated this meal to commemorate Jesus' death and subsequent resurrection.
Sunrise service in Rockland, Maine, United States.
Easter Procession in the Region of Kursk, Russia, painting by Ilya Repin (1880–83), depicting a Bright Weekoutdoor procession.
The congregation lighting their candles from the new flame, just as the priest has retrieved it from the altar—note that the picture is flash-illuminated; all electric lighting is off, and only the oil lamps in front of theIconostasis remain lit. (St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Adelaide).