What is Easter?

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Often celebrated with colored eggs and large amounts of candy, Easter is the Christian holiday that celebrates Jesus’ storied rise from the dead, three days after his crucifixion. However, the name of the holiday comes from the annual festival of a goddess that was celebrated with a feast on the vernal equinox. The vernal equinox marks the first day of spring in the Earth’s northern hemisphere.

The vernal equinox is celebrated by many non-Christian religions, as well, as it has been tradition to celebrate growing seasons for crops. But the traditions of Easter as we know it span a season lasting fifty days, preceded by Lent, in which Christian practitioners often “give up” something that they enjoy for that period of time. For instance, a Christian may decide that they will not consume soft drinks for the entire Lenten period. This type of selective fasting culminates and ends on Easter Sunday.

Does Everyone Celebrate Easter in the Same Fashion?

Easter has various meanings across the globe, and while many Christians celebrate the holiday for the same reasons, the manner in which they do so varies based on geography. Some fundamental Christians argue that the holiday is tied too closely to pagan holidays and refuse to celebrate the tradition all together.

Some European nations celebrate the holiday with parades, feasts, and games that children will play with their parents. However, in these countries, despite the varying traditions, the Christian meaning of Easter remains the same. Some may call it Resurrection Day to distinguish the holiday from the symbols of Easter eggs, baskets, and bunnies.

How Is Easter Celebrated in the Western World?

Easter is a cause for much excitement among children in the western world, as they anticipate large amounts of candy, great food, and of course Easter eggs. It’s a standard tradition that in the days leading up to Easter Sunday children will color eggs with food coloring, varying their decoration with designs, and then look for them later in their Easter baskets.

While heavily commercialized, the Easter tradition still remains strong with the church being a focal point of the celebration. Families will gather for mass and then return home to feast and enjoy each other’s company.

The importance of Easter Sunday to the Christian faith cannot be measured as it documents the resurrection of their savior. Easter is not as much a holiday as it is a season, including Lent and Good Friday. Fish become a regular staple of the diet, as during the Lenten season, Christians will often forgo red meat and substitute it with fish on Fridays.

In spite of all of the direct commercialization applied to the holiday, the season is designed to be a joyous occasion that celebrates an important event in Christian history. From Easter Egg hunts to hidden baskets filled with candy, the history associated with Easter is dark, yet inspiring. Across the world, celebrations abound in many shapes and sizes, and despite the debates regarding the Pagan or Christian origins, the feel and joy of the holiday remain the same