Unlike Christmas which is always celebrated on the 25th of December, the date for Easter varies from year to year and across different calendar traditions.
It was decided in the early centuries of the Church that Easter would be observed not as a remembrance of a particular date, such as a birthday, but as an acknowledgement of a special experience that is of significance to each individual Christian. The Easter ritual is a collective proclamation of belief in the resurrection expected by every Christian to occur for them in their own lives.
In the standard Gregorian calendar used around the world, Easter is calculated as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of the Spring equinox. If the full moon occurs on a Sunday, Easter is typically observed on the following Sunday. The early Church established this process for many reasons one of which was to distinguish Easter from all other religious events that seem to occur around the beginning of Spring, including the Jewish Passover.
Nevertheless, a lot of non-Christian elements have attached themselves to the celebration. These include Easter Eggs and Easter bunnies that clearly are related to concepts of life, fertility and rebirth but don’t have anything to do with the sacrifice made by Christ on Good Friday.
The key and central premise of Christianity put forth by the early Church is that Christ died on the cross, He was buried and then rose from the dead. His death was a sacrifice for the sake of humanity and His resurrection is the sign that all who believe in Him will likewise escape spiritual death and enter the Kingdom of God. St. Paul acknowledged that this core belief would be a problem for Jews and pagans (1 Cor. 1:23) but it nevertheless is the defining element of Christianity.
Christ is the universal Lamb whose blood is shed for human redemption. He rose from the dead as a promise that we, too, will live again.
As St. Paul observed “If Christ didn’t rise from the dead, our preaching is worthless and so is our faith.” (1 Cor. 15:14)
Obviously, not every one will believe in the resurrection or accept its significance in the world. To many people, Easter is just a celebration of rebirth in nature connected to many other Spring rituals. However, the resurrection at Easter is the central point of faith in Christianity. To deny this is to deny Christ. You can’t be a Christian if you don’t accept the resurrection at Easter and also acknowledge that the resurrection is a declaration of the redemption of all humanity who choose to accept it.
Easter isn’t about parades, colored eggs, bunnies and chocolate treats: it’s about the blood of the Lamb shed for human salvation and the promise of eternal life with God.
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