Unlike Christmas, Easter does not have a fixed date. It is a movable festival because it always has to fall on a Sunday, the day of the resurrection. The dating of Easter was a very controversial issue. The method currently used goes back to a decision made in the fourth century – Easter Day is the Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. This means that Easter can fall any time between 21 March and 25 April. The Eastern Orthodox Church did not agree with this decision and it celebrates Easter on a different date.
After the solemn events of Holy Week comes Easter Sunday, a day of great joy. On this day, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Some churches hold a dawn service on Easter Sunday to watch the sun rise and thank God for the resurrection.
New life is a common theme at Easter, and a popular symbol of this is the Easter egg. It symbolises Jesus’ resurrection – new life breaking out of the tomb.
Light is another important Easter symbol. In the Roman Catholic Church a special candle is lit, called the Paschal candle (‘the candle of suffering’). This candle is brought into the church, symbolising the light that has been brought into the world following Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The worshippers light their own candle from the Pashcal candle until the whole church is glowing with light.
For Christians, Jesus’ death and resurrection are also meaningful because they: