Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead at the time of the Jewish Passover celebration, but there is no mention of an annual celebration in the Bible. Early Christians commemorated Jesus’ resurrection on or near the date of Passover, and the celebration was apparently well- established by the mid second century A.D.1 Due to the use of different calendar systems over the years, the dates of Passover and Easter have now drifted apart. The word “Easter” appears once in the King James Version of the Bible (Acts 12:4), but that was a mistranslation of the Greek word Pascha. All other Bible versions translate it correctly as “Passover.” The English word “Easter” is believed to be derived from a spring festival for a pagan goddess, Eostre. The pagan and Christian celebrations occurred at about the same time of
year, so the Christian celebration became known as “Easter” in the English-speaking world. In other languages, the name of the Easter celebration is frequently derived from the Hebrew Pesach (meaning Passover) or the equivalent Greek Pascha. It is known as Pâques in French, Pascua in Spanish and Pasqua in Italian. Several ancient non-Christian traditions survive in children’s celebrations of Easter. “Easter eggs” are colored in bright colors and used in Easter egg hunts or rolling contests. Rabbits, a symbol of springtime fertility, are depicted as the “Easter Bunny” in children’s literature.
In the Christian faith, Easter has come to mean the celebration of the resurrection of Christ three days after His crucifixion. It is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important day of the church year
because of the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the events upon which Christianity is based. Easter Sunday is preceded by the season of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and repentance culminating in Holy Week and followed by a 50-day Easter season that stretches from Easter to Pentecost. Because of the commercialization and pagan origins of Easter, many churches prefer to refer to it as “Resurrection Sunday.” The rationale is the more we focus on Christ and the less we focus on the pagan holiday, the better. As previously mentioned, the resurrection of Christ is the central theme of Christianity. Paul says that without this, our faith is futile ( 1 Corinthians 15:17). What more wonderful reason could we have to celebrate! What is important is the true reason behind our celebration, which is that Christ was resurrected from the dead, making it possible for us to have eternal life ( Romans 6:4)!
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