Easter is the annual commemoration of the resurrection
of Jesus Christ, and is considered the principal festival of the Christian
church. It is celebrated on the first Sunday following the full moon that
occurs on or after March 21st — or one week later if the full moon falls on
Sunday. Because of this, it is referred to as a movable feast, since it
might be observed on varying dates between March 22 and April 25.
Some Christian leaders have objected to the use of
Easter in association with Christ's resurrection because of two particular
reasons: First, the one and only Biblical reference to the word "Easter"
appears in the 1611 King James Version, and was a mistranslation of
"PASCHA," the ordinary Greek word for Passover. Secondly, Easter was never
used in association to Christ's resurrection until the eighth century, when
it is believed that the pagan term was used as another effort to paganize
According to 8th-century English scholar, Bede, the
term, Easter, came from Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon name of a Teutonic goddess
of spring and fertility, to whom was dedicated a month corresponding to
April. Her festival was celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox.
Traditions associated with the festival are embodied in the Easter rabbit, a
symbol of fertility, and in colored Easter eggs, originally painted with
bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring, and used in Easter-egg
rolling contests or given as gifts.
In an effort to be more scriptural or to abstain from the association with pagan philosophies connected with Easter, churches sometimes prefer to use "The Resurrection Day" or other terminology that highlights the true Christian meaning of the observance. To use the term Easter or its traditions does not constitute any sin or violation of scripture, and should not be viewed as an issue of contention. However as with other pagan-influenced Christian traditions (such as Christmas), it is helpful for churches to educate people of the differences between historical fact and myths of antiquity.