Easter marks the final day of the liturgical period in the Christian calendar. It is the end of month long fasting, prayers and the repentance for one's sins. It was only in the second half of the 2nd century when the festival was first celebrated in Rome. It then went on to gain much importance amongst non-Jewish communities. According to the Old Testament, Easter is associated with the Egyptian Passover, which relates to the story of Exodus. The Bible states that God assisted his children by freeing them from slavery by bringing the ten plagues onto the members of the royal family of Egypt. However, in the New Testament the meaning of Easter took a new road since it was seen as a sign of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As seen in the Last Supper, Jesus identified the cup of wine and bread, the wine was his blood that he shed and the bread referred to his mortal corpse that he left behind. When Jesus rose from his death after his crucifixion on the third day, this day came to be celebrated as Easter Sunday or Resurrection Day.
Many believe that Easter is a convergence of Semitic, Rome, Celtic and German cultures. Several historians cite that the significance and the traditions of Easter are derived from these European cultures. The word Easter and Pascha (Passover) is commonly used in many old European languages. It is also believed that the name 'Easter' originated from the Anglo-Saxon month known as "Eostur-monath".
The practice and beliefs among western Christians state that Easter is celebrated at the end of the Lent period. The week before Easter celebrations actually begin is considered to be the most auspicious week for Christians all over the world. This important week is known as the 'Holy Week'. The Friday before Easter Sunday is known as Good Friday, while the Saturday before Easter Sunday is known as Salient Saturday or Holy Saturday. Different Christian sects begin their celebrations from the beginning of the week, while others commence it on Salient Saturday. This celebration is known as the Easter Vigil. In Eastern Christianity, this festival is celebrated differently and usually commences on a Monday and continues for forty day before it ends with the grand feast on Easter Sunday.
The date of Easter has always been under speculation, as there are different dates in different calendars. In the west, most churches adopt the Georgian calendar while the Julian almanac is followed in the east. However, due to a constant difference in dates, many churches in the eastern part of the globe prefer to stick to the Georgian almanac. Across the globe, there are different traditions that are being practiced and that are unique to that particular region. From Sunday mass in England to women spanking customs in Czech Republic and Slovakia, Easter certainly has an interesting blend of old and new age traditions that are surprisingly still followed with great zeal and vigor.
Origin of Easter holiday dates back to the Pagan times. Read about the story related to Easter history.