Today is referred to more commonly as Easter Sunday.
Whilst Christians have been celebrating the Easter weekend since Good Friday, today is actually considered the most important day of the entire year.
It signifies the anniversary of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven
Written in the Bible in the New Testament, according to the Gospel of John, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb where Jesus was buried and found it empty.
An angel then told her that Jesus had risen.
The roots of the Easter traditions and activities can however be traced back to pagan celebrations.
The name Easter is believed to come from Eostara, the goddess of rebirth. In early times the Feast of Eostara celebrated the earth’s resurrection and rebirth.
Other symbolic parallels include the pagan joy in the rising sun of spring, which coincides with Christians’ joy in the rising Son of God, and the lighting of candles in churches, which corresponds to the pagan bonfires.
When is Easter?
Easter typically falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the March equinox.
Eggs have always been seen as a symbol of life. During spring time, most ancient cultures celebrated spring festivals by gifting and eating dyed eggs.
For Christians the Easter egg symbolizes the tomb of Jesus. Where he arose, in new light and new life.
In early Easter celebrations eggs were presented at the church to be blessed and sprinkled with holy water. Later on eggs were decorated with gold leaf and sent as gifts to the Royal family.
Eventually people began to dye eggs in bright colors like red,to signify life and the blood of Jesus.
The Easter egg hunt is another custom which involves hiding away decorated Easter eggs for children to seek and find.
The Easter bunny distributing colorful eggs is one of the most popular symbols of Easter.
There are several reasons for a bunny to be so closely associated with what is predominantly a Christian celebration.One of which is that the burrow of the rabbit signifies the tomb of Christ from which he rises.
Traditionally during Easter children make nests for rabbits in paper baskets and put them out for rabbits to find and fill with eggs.
It is also common for people to eat chocolate bunnies on Easter Sunday as a part of the festivity.
Candles dismantle darkness by being the medium of light. Similarly, Jesus Christ is looked upon as the medium of light that came to destroy the darkness of the world.
Candles also symbolize hope, which is what Jesus Christ embodies for Christians.
Lilies are a symbol of purity, innocence, hope and grace.
Throughout the Easter period you can find altars and houses adorned by the pristine Easter lily.
The symbol of the lamb is strongly rooted in Christian belief.
One of the most important symbols of Easter, the lamb signifies the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
This comes from the Jewish Passover, the event where every family sacrificed a lamb in good faith of their Lord. Jesus Christ laid down his life for all of humanity and hence, became the Passover Lamb.
Chicks which hatch during springtime and are also considered to be a symbol of Easter.
Chicks coming out of the eggs resemble Jesus Christ coming out of his Tomb.
It was common for Christians to wear new clothes and new hats on Easter Sunday.
During the Easter Parade, women belonging to the upper crust of the society would show off their new clothes and different kinds of new hats in joyous spirit. The Easter Bonnet has now been deeply engrained in the festivities of Easter and become one of the major symbols of Easter.
Children often make Easter hats at school before Easter.
How is Easter celebrated?
Although Easter maintains great religious significance, many people think of it as a time to get new clothes, decorate eggs and to participate in Easter egg hunts where eggs are hidden by the Easter Bunny.
Children receive Easter baskets full of sweets and presents around this time of the year.