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Easter:  Christian Festival & Holiday
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Easter (Old English Ēostre; Latin: Pascha; Greek Πάσχα Paskha, the latter two derived from Hebrew: פֶּסַח‎ Pesaḥ) is a Christian festival & holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the 3rd day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament. Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, & penance.
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Religious feast in the Christian liturgical year:
"Easter is the most important religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. Christians believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead three days after his crucifixion. Many Christian denominations celebrate this resurrection on Easter Day or Easter Sunday (also Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday), two days after Good Friday. The chronology of his death and resurrection is variously estimated between the years 26 and 36 A.D."

Eastertide or the Easter Season:
"Easter also refers to the season of the church year called Eastertide or the Easter Season. Traditionally the Easter Season lasted for the forty days from Easter Day until Ascension Day but now officially lasts for the fifty days until Pentecost. The first week of the Easter Season is known as Easter Week or the Octave of Easter. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of prayer and penance."

Easter is a moveable feast: (Movable Holidays )
"Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. Easter falls at some point between late March and late April each year (early April to early May in Eastern Christianity), following the cycle of the Moon. After several centuries of disagreement, all churches accepted the computation of the Alexandrian Church (now the Coptic Church) that Easter is the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first moon whose 14th day (the ecclesiastic "full moon") is on or after March 21 (the ecclesiastic "vernal equinox")."

Spring Break: (  )
"Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover not only for much of its symbolism but also for its position in the calendar. It is also linked to Spring Break, a secular school holiday (customarily a week long) celebrated at various times across North America, and characterized by road trips and bacchanalia."

Easter Bunny:
"Cultural elements, such as the Easter Bunny, have become part of the holiday's modern celebrations, and those aspects are often celebrated by many Christians and non-Christians alike. There are also some Christian denominations who do not celebrate Easter."

The Easter Bunny is not a modern invention. The symbol originated with the pagan festival of Eastre. The goddess, Eastre, was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons through her earthly symbol, the rabbit. ( History of Easter )


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Date of Easter:  (When is Easter?  (about/future dates)
"Easter and the holidays that are related to it are moveable feasts, in that they do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars (both of which follow the cycle of the sun and the seasons). Instead, the date for Easter is determined on a lunisolar calendar, as is the Hebrew calendar."

The Easter Egg predates the Christian holiday of Easter:
The exchange of eggs in the springtime is a custom that was centuries old when Easter was first celebrated by Christians......... ( Finish reading about "The Easter Egg" )

Easter Traditions: (  )
"As with many other Christian dates, the celebration of Easter extends beyond the church. Since its origins, it has been a time of celebration and feasting and many Traditional Easter games and customs developed, such as Egg rolling, Egg tapping, Pace egging and Egg decorating. Today Easter is commercially important, seeing wide sales of greeting cards (Internet E-Greeting for Easter) and confectionery such as chocolate Easter eggs, marshmallow bunnies, Peeps, and jelly beans. (see National Jelly Bean Day) Even many non-Christians celebrate these aspects of the holiday while eschewing the religious aspects."

About Easter
"Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover not only for much of its symbolism but also for its position in the calendar. The Last Supper shared by Jesus and his disciples before his crucifixion is generally thought of as a Passover meal, based on the chronology in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7). The Gospel of John, however, speaks of the Jewish elders not wanting to enter the hall of Pilate in order "that they might eat the Passover", implying that the Passover meal had not yet occurred (John 18:28; John 19:14). Thus, John places Christ's death at the time of the slaughter of the Passover lamb, which would put the Last Supper slightly before Passover, on 14 Nisan of the Bible's Hebrew calendar. According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, "In fact, the Jewish feast was taken over into the Christian Easter celebration." wikipedia/Easter

Modern avoidance controversy
Main article: wikipedia /Easter/Good Friday controversy
"In the modern-day United States, there have been instances where public mention of Easter and Good Friday have been replaced with euphemistic terminology. Examples include renaming "Good Friday" as "Spring holiday" on school calendars, to avoid association with a Christian holiday while at the same time allowing a state-sanctioned day off. (Note that the modern North American "Spring Break" can no longer be assumed to correspond with any version of Easter week.)"
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Western Christianity
In Western Christianity, Easter is preceded by Lent, a period of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter, which begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts forty days (not counting Sundays). The week before Easter, known as Holy Week, is very special in the Christian tradition. The Sunday before Easter is Palm Sunday, with the Wednesday before Easter being known as Spy Wednesday. The last three days before Easter are Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday (sometimes referred to as Silent Saturday).

Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday respectively commemorate Jesus' entry in Jerusalem, the Last Supper and the Crucifixion. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are sometimes referred to as the Easter Triduum (Latin for "Three Days"). Many churches begin celebrating Easter late in the evening of Holy Saturday at a service called the Easter Vigil. In some countries, Easter lasts two days, with the second called "Easter Monday".

The week beginning with Easter Sunday is called Easter Week or the Octave of Easter, and each day is prefaced with "Easter", e.g. Easter Monday, Easter Tuesday, etc. Easter Saturday is therefore the Saturday after Easter Sunday. The day before Easter is properly called Holy Saturday. Eastertide, or Paschaltide, the season of Easter, begins on Easter Sunday and lasts until the day of Pentecost, seven weeks later.

Eastern Christianity
In Eastern Christianity, the spiritual preparation for Easter begins with Great Lent, which starts on Clean Monday and lasts for 40 continuous days (including Sundays). The last week of Great Lent (following the fifth Sunday of Great Lent) is called Palm Week, and ends with Lazarus Saturday. The Vespers which begins Lazarus Saturday officially brings Great Lent to a close, although the fast continues through the following week. After Lazarus Saturday comes Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and finally Easter itself, and the fast is broken immediately after the Paschal Divine Liturgy.

The Paschal Vigil begins with the Midnight Office, which is the last service of the Lenten Triodion and is timed so that it ends a little before midnight on Holy Saturday night. At the stroke of midnight the Paschal celebration itself begins, consisting of Paschal Matins, Paschal Hours, and Paschal Divine Liturgy. Placing the Paschal Divine Liturgy at midnight guarantees that no Divine Liturgy will come earlier in the morning, ensuring its place as the pre-eminent "Feast of Feasts" in the liturgical year.

The liturgical season from Easter to the Sunday of All Saints (the Sunday after Pentecost) is known as the Pentecostarion (the "fifty days"). The week which begins on Easter Sunday is called Bright Week, during which there is no fasting, even on Wednesday and Friday. The Afterfeast of Easter lasts 39 days, with its Apodosis (leave-taking) on the day before Ascension. Pentecost Sunday is the fiftieth day from Easter (counted inclusively).


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Easter Customs
Many Americans follow the tradition of coloring hard-boiled eggs and giving baskets of candy. The Easter Bunny is a popular legendary anthropomorphic Easter gift-giving character analogous to Santa Claus in American culture. On Easter Monday, the President of the United States holds an annual Easter egg roll on the White House lawn for young children. New York City holds an annual Easter parade on Easter Sunday.

In countries where Christianity is a state religion, or where the country has large Christian population, Easter is a public holiday. Some European and other countries in the world also have Easter Monday as a public holiday. In Canada, both Easter Sunday and Easter Monday are public holidays. In province of Quebec, either Good Friday or Easter Monday (although most companies give both) are statutory holidays. Two days before Easter Sunday, on Good Friday, is a public holiday as well.

In Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, both Easter Sunday and Easter Monday are public holidays. It is a holiday for most workers except some shopping malls which keep open for half-day. Many businesses give their employees almost a week off called Easter break.

In the Netherlands both Easter Sunday and Easter Monday are public holidays. Like first and second Christmas Day they are both considered Sundays, which results in a first and a second Easter Sunday, after which the week continues to a Tuesday.

In the United States, Easter Sunday is a flag day but because Easter falls on a Sunday, which is already a non-working day for federal and state employees, it has not been designated as a federal or state holiday. Few banks that are normally open on regular Sundays are closed on Easter.

Some retail stores, shopping malls, and restaurants are closed on Easter Sunday, although this practice is declining. Good Friday, which occurs two days before Easter Sunday, is a holiday in 12 states (see the article for details). Even in states where Good Friday is not a holiday, many financial institutions, stock markets, and public schools are closed.

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Shop: 
Kids & Family Easter Store!
Have you ever wished for a classic Easter special to show your kids? Here Comes Peter Cottontail is a Rankin & Bass production that bears a marked similarity to the beloved Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.
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Resources: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses some material from Wikipedia/article Easter/and other related pages. Top Photo by:  homestead
The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday), commemorating the Last Supper and its preceding foot washing, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Easter is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide, or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday.
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