Easter is a time of springtime festivals. In Christian  countries Easter is celebrated as the religious holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God. But the  celebrations of Easter have many customs and legends that are pagan in origin and have nothing to do  with Christianity.
Scholars, accepting the derivation proposed by the 8th-century English scholar St. Bede, believe the  name Easter is thought to come from the Scandinavian “Ostra” and the Teutonic “Ostern” or “Eastre,”  both Goddesses of mythology signifying spring and fertility whose festival was celebrated on the day  of the vernal equinox.
Traditions associated with the festival survive in the Easter rabbit, a symbol of fertility, and in  colored  easter eggs, originally painted with bright  colors to represent the sunlight of spring, and used in Easter-egg rolling contests or given as gifts.
The Christian celebration of Easter embodies a number of converging traditions with emphasis on the  relation of Easter to the Jewish festival of  Passover, or  Pesach, from which is derived Pasch, another name used by Europeans for Easter.  Passover is an important feast in the Jewish calendar which is  celebrated for 8 days and commemorates the flight and freedom of the  Israelites from slavery in  Egypt.
The early Christians, many of whom were of Jewish origin, were brought up in the Hebrew tradition and  regarded Easter as a new feature of the Passover festival, a commemoration of the advent of the  Messiah as foretold by the prophets.
Easter is observed by the churches of the West on the first  + Sunday  following the full moon that  occurs on or following the spring equinox ( March 21 ). So Easter became a “movable” feast which can  occur as early as  March 22  or as late as  April 25 .
Christian churches in the East which were closer to the birthplace of the new religion and in which old traditions were strong, observe Easter according to the date of the Passover festival.
Easter is at the end of the Lenten season, which covers a forty-six-day period that begins on Ash Wednesday  and ends with Easter. The Lenten season itself comprises forty days, as the six  Sunday s in Lent are not actually a part of Lent.  Sunday s are considered a commemoration of  Easter  Sunday  and have always been excluded from the Lenten fast. The Lenten season is a period of penitence in preparation for the highest festival of the church year, Easter.
Holy Week, the last week of Lent, begins with the observance of Palm  Sunday . Palm  Sunday  takes its name from Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem where the crowds laid palms at his feet. Holy Thursday  commemorates the Last Supper, which was held the evening before the Crucifixion.  Friday  in Holy Week is the anniversary of the Crufixion, the day that Christ was crucified and died on the cross.
Holy week and the Lenten season end with Easter Sunday, the day of resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Posted by Luis Escobar on 3rd April, 2014