Easter is one of the most important celebrations in Christendom, marking the anniversary of the death of Jesus Christ. The holiday is a “movable feast” that does not have a fixed date, but that’s just the beginning of the facts that people get wrong about this holiday. Here’s what you need to know about Easter.
In addition to the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25, Easter is an important feast that celebrates His crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection three days later.
The event is also seen by Christians as fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah 53.
For Christians, the most important fact of Easter is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. In doing so, He conquered death and proved that death can be defeated, that life is eternal.
God’s law demands that all who sin must be punished by eternal death (not just physical death on earth, but the death of the eternal soul). Unfortunately, there is not a human who has ever been born that was without sin. That would mean that all humans were destined for eternal death. The fall of Adam and Eve brought sin into the world.
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned,”
– Romans 5:12
Originally, sacrificial blood offerings of animals were made to atone for the sins of humans. But humankind’s sins became so great that such sacrifices were no longer enough to atone for all the sin in the world.
Through the sacrifice of His own sinless life, Jesus reversed the fall of mankind from the sins of Adam, serving as the new Adam, and paying the penalty for the sins of all mankind.
“For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
– 1 Corinthians 15:21-22
Jesus provided a path to redemption from sin for those who put their faith in God.
In the biblical narrative from three of the four Gospels of the New Testament in the Holy Bible, after three years of ministry, the 33-year-old Jesus Christ was crucified for His alleged heretical crimes of preaching the Christian gospel. Christ was crucified and died at the 9th hour (3 PM) on a Friday. Three days later, on Sunday, or the Jewish holiday of Passover, Christ rose from the dead.
In the early history of the Christian church, Easter was celebrated on the same day as the Jewish holiday of Passover. In fact, the word used was not Easter, but rather pascha (Greek for Passover), according to The Reporter.
The original followers of Jesus commemorated His death and resurrection on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Nissan, which is also the first day of Passover.
Easter is a “movable feast.” The event is related to the first full moon of spring. Therefore, Easter does not have a fixed date and the date changes every year. However, Easter is always held on a Sunday, which usually occurs between March 22 and April 25, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
The celebration is always celebrated on the first Sunday that follows the full moon that occurs on or immediately following the spring equinox. On occasions where the full moon occurs on the same day as the spring equinox, Easter is then observed on the subsequent Sunday.
Passover and Easter, then called pascha, were both celebrated simultaneously by the early Christians. Back then Christian still followed the Hebrew Calendar, therefore, the feast could also land on other days of the week, rather than only on Sunday.
At some time during the second century, the celebration was shifted to the first Sunday after Passover. Part of the reason was that some messianic Jews and some early Christians wanted to celebrate both holidays separately. Officially, it was the Roman Emperor Constantine who designated the date to be the Sunday after Passover and the feast was no longer called pascha, but Easter, with the date modified to align with the solar calendar.
Biblical holidays in the time of Jesus and prior were based off of the Jewish calendar, which is a lunar calendar, which is not calculated the same as the our modern Gregorian calendar we use today, which was first introduced in 1582. According to Wikipedia, the Gregorian calendar is “based on the observation of a long-term shift between the Julian calendar and the solar year.”
The Hebrew calendar, also called the Jewish calendar, is a lunar calendar and is roughly 11 days shorter than the solar year. The Hebrew calendar utilized , according to Wikipedia: “[a] 19-year Metonic cycle to bring it into line with the solar year, with the addition of an intercalary month every two or three years, for a total of seven times per 19 years.”