As a kid, Easter was always about hunting for eggs, making delicious treats and getting gifts from the Easter Bunny, but as we grow older it’s important to understand why the holiday is celebrated.
Jay Lemanski, assistant professor of history, explains that Easter begins with the Jewish Festival of Passover.
“Passover commemorates when the Jews were slaves in Egypt and how God freed them from slavery,” Lemanski explained.
In the New Testament, Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover when the crucifixion and resurrection occurred.
Because the resurrection of Jesus occurred on a Sunday, the day became the Christian’s day of worship.
The Christians encountered a problem when deciding the date in which to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection because the Christian calendar differed from the Jewish calendar.
The Jewish calendar is based on the moon, where a new month begins on sunset at the first sliver of the new moon. So, the days don’t line up the same on a year–to–year basis the way the Christian calendar does.
Passover takes place on the 15th day of the Jewish calendar, which always occurs on a full moon.
The Jewish wanted to celebrate the resurrection the third day after Passover when Jesus rose again, but the Christians wanted to celebrate it on a Sunday, so a compromise was made.
“In 325, at the council of Nicea, [the early Christians] came up with this hideous formula for calculating the day of Easter,” Lemanski said. “It’s the Sunday as close to Passover as you can get.”
The traditions of Easter, such as the egg and bunny, are celebrated to symbolize the rebirth or resurrection: they are both symbols of fertility.