April 1 is Easter Sunday: What is Easter?
Easter is the occasion to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb on the third day following his crucifixion. Easter is the occasion to remember the resurrection of Jesus as a victory over sin.
Early Christians started remembering the Resurrection every Sunday after its occurrence. As early as 325 AD, the Council of Nicaea identified a special day for the purpose of celebration of Resurrection. However, it became a concern whether the Resurrection should be officially celebrated on a weekday or on a Sunday.
According to many, the date of Resurrection should continue to be determined by the timing of Resurrection during Passover (the tale of the Jewish people's enslavement in Egypt and their annual escape). Once the Jewish leaders decided on the date of the Passover, the Christian community leaders could decide the date for Easter by figuring three days after Passover. This schedule meant that Easter would be observed on a different day of the week each year and falling on a Sunday at times.
Another group believed that since the Lord rose on a Sunday and the day had been set aside as the Lord's Day, it was the only possible day to observe his resurrection. Moreover, since Christianity was growing distant from Judaism, some did not agree to determine the Christian celebration based on the Jewish calendar.
Finally, it was decided that Easter should be observed on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox and since the date of vernal equinox changed every year, it became difficult to calculate the proper date. This is nevertheless the method by which Easter is determined still today and some years see it falling on a different date than the others.
History of Easter bunny
A bunny distributing eggs is the first image that comes to one's mind on an Easter. Why is it so?
There are many reasons why rabbits are associated with Easter and they come through the pagan beliefs. The most prominent among them is the hare's fertility. Easter comes at spring and celebrates creation of new life and animals like hare that produced many offsprings became part of the occasion.
The rabbit is also an ancient symbol of moon and since Easter's date depends on it, it may have helped the hare to be included into Easter celebrations. For the believers, the rabbit coming out of its underground tunnel symbolised the emergence of Jesus from the tomb and hence it became a more befitting symbol.
About Easter eggs
The egg also became a symbol of Easter since ancient cultures saw egg as a symbol of life. Religions across the world believed that it all began with an enormous egg and eggs were gifted during the spring festivals to celebrate new life.
The early Christians, likewise, saw in eggs a connection with life and henceforth, eggs became a part of celebrating the Lord's resurrection.