Easter is the single most important holy day throughout Christianity.
It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ — a central belief for Christians worldwide and the focal point of their faith. Religious scholars believe the event occurred three days after the Romans crucified Jesus in roughly 30 AD. Christians therefore derive hope that they too will experience a resurrection in heaven.
Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21. For 2024, Easter is on March 31.
Christians observe Easter in ways both personal and universal. Let’s take a closer look.
When is Easter 2024?
Easter falls on March 31 this year, celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. The holiday has Christian roots but has also become popular in secular society for its other elements like the Easter bunny, and Easter eggs.
History of Easter
Easter is a 2,000-year-old Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and marks the arrival of Spring. For many, Easter is all about chocolate bunnies, dyed eggs, and bouquets of daffodils and lilies, but the holiday is one of the most important observances of the year for Christians around the world.
Easter is also significantly associated with the exodus of the Jews from Egypt as depicted in the Old Testament and the Jewish holiday of Passover. The Last Supper, which took place the night before Jesus was arrested, is also linked to these events.
The Sunday before Easter is called Palm Sunday. It commemorates and celebrates the day Jesus arrived in Jerusalem when his followers greeted him by laying palm leaves at his feet to demonstrate their reverence for him. In many churches, the observance of Easter begins on the night of Holy Saturday, just before Easter Sunday. This religious service is known as the Easter Vigil.
According to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the Great Lent, which begins 40 days before Easter on Clean Monday, marks the beginning of the Easter rituals. The 40 days, which do not include Sundays, is a time of repentance, fasting, and commemoration of the biblical events leading up to the persecution, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The last week is known as Holy Week and is concluded with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter.
Religiously, Easter is celebrated by Christians in a number of ways, including the baptismal rite and traditional liturgy observed by Catholics on the night of Holy Saturday, or the sunrise practices on Easter Sunday favored by Protestants. Easter is also celebrated zealously by members of the Orthodox church, but the day on which they observe Easter differs by 13 days from the Catholics, since they follow the Julian calendar.
Over time, many pagan celebrations have been merged with Easter to welcome the season of spring. These relatively modern traditions include the Easter bunny — a figure associated with spring, who brings colorful eggs symbolizing new life. The origins of the concept of the Easter bunny have been disputed, but many agree that it started in Germany. Either way, the kids always look forward to his arrival, and decorating eggs, consuming candy, and community Easter egg hunts have become a huge part of the evolved Easter holiday.
Most scholars agree that Jesus was born somewhere between the years 6 and 4 B.C.
After being baptized by John, Jesus begins preaching in Galilee and recruits his disciples.
Sentenced by Pontius Pilate, Jesus is crucified outside Jerusalem's city walls, and rises from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion.
The First Council of Nicaea, organized by Roman Emperor Constantine I, decrees that Easter will be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.
German immigrants introduce the Easter bunny tradition to the United States.
President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife host the first annual Easter egg roll on the White House lawn.
Easter - Survey Results
Data gathered by a top Seattle Marketing Agency
FOR 1 IN 3 AMERICANS, EASTER CANDY IS AN IMPULSE BUY
32% of Americans usually buy Easter candy at the grocery store on an impulse, when they’re already shopping for something else. 46% of Americans make a special trip to buy Easter candy, while 18% wait until the day after Easter, when the candy is half price.
CANDY IS THE #1 EASTER PURCHASE
23% of Americans say they purchase candy on or around Easter. The second most popular Easter purchase is plastic eggs or baskets (15%).
Traditions of the Day
While those of the Christian faith observe Easter by participating in religious rituals, vigils, and going to Church, there are many non-religious traditions on Easter for children. The most common tradition is dying Easter eggs, including a lot of fun activities such as egg rolling and egg hunts. Flying kites and games like leapfrog are also popular, as well as games associated with the Easter bunny.
Chocolate and other candy, especially bunny- or egg-shaped ones are widely consumed. Pastel colors like pink, baby blue, and lilac are associated with this day and are seen everywhere on clothing, dyed eggs, and at events.
By the Numbers
3 in 4 – the estimated number of Americans who identify as Christian.
50.8% – the percentage of Americans who plan to attend church on Easter Sunday each year.
$16.4 billion – the estimated number of dollars spent on Easter in 2015.
$140.62 – the estimated number of dollars spent by Americans on Easter.
13th century – the period when eggs first started to be decorated for Easter.
5 – the number of minutes it takes to make a Peeps Marshmallow Chick.
$18,480 million – candy company Mars Inc.’s net sales in 2014.
32% – the percentage of chocolate lovers who buy extra chocolate on the occasion of Easter.
89% – the percentage of consumers who eat the ears off chocolate bunnies first.
1.5 billion – the number of Peeps Marshmallow Chicks consumed around Easter.
Why is Easter called Easter?
The christening of the holiday as ‘Easter’ is believed to have originated from the name of a goddess in England, Eostre, who was celebrated at the beginning of spring before Christ’s time.
What does the word Easter mean?
Another theory suggests that the word ‘Easter’ originated from the German word for ‘East,’ also meaning dawn.
Is the Easter bunny real?
As a symbol of Easter, the Easter bunny is derived from folklore. Much like the Trix Rabbit, the Easter bunny is not real.
How to Observe Easter
Go to church
For a lot of folks, Easter remains one of the few Sundays of the year on which they feel compelled to attend church services.
Engage in prayer
Regardless of a person's particular devotion or attention to their religious faith, prayer is often seen as a comfort — both for those praying and those for whom we pray.
Hold an Easter egg hunt
Easter is a day that is meant to be filled with gladness, so why not add some extra fun in the form of an egg hunt? The choice of dyed, hard-boiled, or colorful plastic eggs is totally up to you.
Three Facts About The Easter Holiday
Christianity or the Easter egg?
Eggs have long been considered a symbol for life and rebirth, and the act of coloring them predates Christianity.
Spending the big bucks
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spend about $18 billion dollars on Easter.
The Easter Bunny definitely visits the U.S.
The National Confectioners Association reports that 2 out of every 3 American parents build Easter baskets for their kids.
Why Easter is Important
It's the holiest of holy days
A tenet of Christian faith is that God sent his "only begotten Son" to be crucified for the sins of humanity. Debates over the historical veracity of Jesus Christ's life, death and resurrection continue, but for most Christians, Easter is meaningless without a literal belief in the truth of this central story.
It brings the family together
Easter draws families together in the spirit of shared religious faith and celebration. It's a perfect time to catch up with loved ones we may not have seen in a long time.
It's fun for the children
For children, Easter has its own special significance beyond that of religious and familial duty. It's a day of sweets, treats, and play — not to mention the creation of colorful Easter eggs.
Easter Featured Video
The World's Most Incredible Easter Eggs - Pysanky