What is Easter and why it is celebrated?

Easter, a cornerstone of Christian faith, commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described as occurring on the third day after his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It concludes the “Passion of Christ,” a series of events and holidays beginning with Lent—a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and sacrifice—and ending with Holy Week, which includes Holy Thursday (celebrating Jesus’s Last Supper with his 12 apostles), Good Friday (honoring the day of his crucifixion), and Easter Sunday (celebrating his resurrection). As the most significant Christian festival, Easter embodies the dawn of salvation and the victory of life over death.

Historical Background

The origins of Easter trace back to the earliest days of Christian traditions, rooted in the Jewish Passover (Pesach), commemorating the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. The term “Easter” itself, however, has debated origins. Some suggest it comes from Eostre, a pagan goddess of spring and fertility, highlighting the season’s themes of rebirth and renewal. Others argue its derivation from the Latin phrase “hebdomada alba,” meaning “white week,” referencing the white clothing donned by people baptized during Easter. Despite these varied origins, the celebration of Easter has focused on the resurrection of Jesus since the first centuries of Christianity.

Theological Significance

Theologically, Easter is paramount to Christian beliefs. According to Christian doctrine, Jesus’s resurrection is the ultimate affirmation of his divinity and the cornerstone of faith. It provides believers with hope for their resurrection and eternal life, offering a promise of redemption and the possibility of reconciliation with God. This event not only signifies the victory over sin and death but also the fulfilment of the prophecy and the establishment of a new covenant between God and humanity.

Liturgical Observances

Easter’s date varies each year, calculated based on the vernal equinox and the phases of the moon, following the Jewish Passover. This dating reflects the event’s scriptural roots, as Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection occurred after he went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. The Easter season extends for fifty days, culminating in Pentecost, celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and other followers of Jesus.

The Holy Week leading up to Easter is marked with specific rituals and services. For instance, on Good Friday, churches remain bare and services are somber to reflect on Jesus’s suffering. Contrastingly, Easter services are jubilant and vibrant, filled with music and decorations, symbolizing resurrection and new life. Many churches hold vigil services on the eve of Easter, symbolizing the anticipation of Jesus’s return.

Cultural and Secular Celebrations

Beyond its religious significance, Easter has been embraced with various customs and traditions worldwide. These include the Easter bunny, a symbol of fertility, and Easter eggs, representing new life and resurrection. These elements, though rooted in pagan traditions, have been integrated into the celebration as symbols of joy and rebirth.

In many cultures, Easter is also a time for family gatherings and feasts. Traditional foods, such as lamb, eggs, and special breads, are prepared, each with its symbolic meanings tied to Easter themes. Communities may also participate in Easter parades, egg hunting, and other festive activities, blending religious reverence with secular joy and community spirit.

Reflection and Renewal

Easter’s celebration is a period of reflection and renewal for believers. It offers a time to meditate on the themes of sacrifice, redemption, and the transformative power of love and faith. It invites Christians to recommit to their faith, to practice forgiveness and charity, and to embody the teachings of Jesus in their daily lives.


Easter, transcending its historical and theological foundations, has become a time of universal themes of hope, renewal, and joy. While deeply rooted in Christian doctrine, its celebration resonates with broader human experiences of overcoming darkness and embracing a new beginning. Whether through solemn religious observances or joyful community gatherings, Easter invites reflection on the profound mysteries of life, death, and resurrection, offering a message of hope and renewal to all.