Easter

Easter [A.S. Eastre, name of a spring goddess], chief Christian feast, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion. In the West, Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following the full moon next after the vernal equinox (see calendar); thus, it falls between Mar. 22 and Apr. 25. The Orthodox Eastern Church calculates Easter somewhat differently, so that the Orthodox Easter usually comes several weeks after that of the West. Many dates of the Christian calendar are dependent on Easter. For most Christians there is a preparatory period of penitence, beginning (in the West) with Septuagesima Sunday, 17 days before Lent, and ending in Holy Week. With Easter begins the paschal season, liturgically marked with rejoicing; Alleluia is often said, and the paschal candle is set up. The five Sundays of this time begin with Low Sunday. They are followed by Ascension Day (Thursday; see under Ascension) and, 10 days later, by Pentecost. The Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday. Until Advent the weeks are counted from Pentecost or Trinity. A feature of Roman Catholic life is the Easter duty, by which every member is required to receive communion sometime between Ash Wednesday and Trinity Sunday. Painting and rolling eggs and wearing new clothes are Easter customs; there is no development of social festivities comparable with those of Christmas.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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