Here’s a look at why the celebration of Easter is so important to Christians, how this religious holiday began and why the date of this “movable feast” changes every year. Here’s what you need to know about Easter!
The first thing to note is that Easter wasn’t originally called Easter. The original name for this Christian commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ was called pascha, which is the Greek word for Passover. The early Christian church observed pascha on the same day as the first day of the Jewish holiday of Passover, which occurs on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Nissan, according to The Reporter.
The Christian celebration of Easter remembers three things: Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, his death and his resurrection. These three things are interconnected, but the most significant is Jesus’ triumph over death and return to life through resurrection.
The resurrection of Jesus proves that he has the son of God and confirms that life is eternal. He demonstrated that a mortal body could return to a living state after death. It also shows humans that we are more than physical bodies we occupy during our time on earth. We are created in the image of God, which is that of an eternal spirit, confirming what the Holy Scriptures have attested to.
The events that Christians celebrate on Easter are also considered fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah 53.
Scholars believe Isaiah was written at least 700 years before the birth of Christ at some time between 740 and 700 BC. Everything the prophet Isaiah predicted concerning the coming Messiah is fulfilled in the death of Jesus on the cross in startling and intricate detail. These accurate prophecies alone are compelling evidence for believing that the words of the Bible are the true words of God.
Further, the book of Isaiah is the most complete manuscript of the over 2000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls that were found in the Qumran caves in 1947. These prove that the words of the Bible have not been changed, despite false claims that the words of the Bible have been altered to manipulate people.
Many people wonder why Easter isn’t celebrated on a fixed date every year. This has to do with the Jewish calendar, which is a lunar-based calendar, not a solar-based like our modern calendar. Then-pascha/now-Easter followed the Jewish or Hebrew calendar which is approximately 11 days shorter than our modern calendar.
The date of the start of Passover is related to the full moon. As Hebrew months are connected directly to the lunar cycle, the 15th day of Nissan always occurs on a full moon, according to the InfoPlease.
However, it was the Roman Emperor Constantine who made the changes just shy of 300 years after the Christ’s crucifixion that both renamed pascha as Easter and established Sunday as the day of the week it is celebrated.
Constantine directed that Easter be commemorated on the first Sunday that follows the full moon occurring immediately on or after the spring equinox. Therefore, Easter Sunday usually occurs at some time between March 22 and April 25 each year, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.