April 15 (BBC) – Easter is the most important festival in the Christian calendar. It celebrates Jesus rising from the dead, three days after he was executed.
When is Easter?
The date of Easter Sunday varies from year to year. It is celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon, on or after 21 March.
In 2022 Easter Sunday is on 17 April. The week leading up to Easter is called Holy Week.
This is the Sunday before Easter Sunday.
It is the first day of Holy Week and celebrates Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Crowds of people came out of the city to greet him, throwing down palm branches on the road.
Anglican and Roman Catholic churches give out small crosses made from palm leaves, as a reminder of Jesus’s entrance into Jerusalem and his death on the cross. Some Christians keep these in their homes all year as a symbol of their faith.
This is the Thursday before Easter Day.
On Maundy Thursday Christians remember when Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples, breaking bread and drinking wine. Christians refer to this meal as the Last Supper.
Many Christians remember the Last Supper by sharing bread and wine together in a church service called Holy Communion, Eucharist or Mass. It is a reminder that Jesus sacrificed his life for mankind.
Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday. It commemorates the execution of Jesus by crucifixion.
Good Friday is a day of mourning in church. During special Good Friday services Christians remember Jesus’s suffering and death on the cross, and what this means for their faith.
In some countries, there are special Good Friday processions, or re-enactments of the Crucifixion.
Easter Sunday marks Jesus’s resurrection. After Jesus was crucified on the Friday his body was taken down from the cross and buried in a cave tomb. The tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers and an enormous stone was put over the entrance.
On Sunday Mary Magdalene and some of Jesus’s disciples visited the tomb. They found the stone had been moved and that Jesus’s body had gone. Jesus was seen later that day by Mary and the disciples, and for forty days afterwards by many people. His followers realised that God had raised Jesus from the dead. Christians call this the resurrection.
An egg is a symbol of new life. For Christians, Easter eggs are used as a symbol for the resurrection of Jesus.
Christians believe that, through his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and sin. This offers people the promise of eternal life if they follow his teachings.
Nowadays, most Easter eggs are made from chocolate and covered in coloured foil. Traditionally though, chicken eggs would be hard boiled and then decorated by hand. Traditional Easter egg hunts remain popular with both Christian and non-Christian children.