There are many religious traditions surrounding Easter, and the observances of them vary from denomination to denomination within Christianity. Not every Christian observes all Easter related traditions, but all Christians observe Easter Sunday, as it’s the highest holy day for all Christians.
How many other holidays, or holy days, are associated with Easter? Lots and lots! Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, the Lenten Season (Lent), Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Ascension Day, and Pentecost are all part of the Easter season, or Eastertide.
What is Lent? Lent is the 40 days before Easter. Christians traditionally observe Lent by giving up a creature comfort for 40 days in order to relate to the suffering of Christ. (Many modern-day Christian denominations no longer practice this.)
What is Mardi Gras? Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the day before Lent starts. While Lent is a time of sacrifice, Mardi Gras is a time (or day) of indulgence.
What is Ash Wednesday? Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. It’s a somber day most commonly observed by attending a church service and having ashes smudged on one’s forehead as a reminder of the passion of Christ. (The ashes are the result of burning the palms from the previous Palm Sunday.) Traditionally, Ash Wednesday was a day of fasting, but that tradition is no longer observed by most Christians.
What is Palm Sunday? Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday, is an observance of the day that Jesus returned to Jerusalem. The crowds laid palms on the road to soften Jesus’ passageway. Today, many Christian churches hand out palms or a palm leaf fashioned into a cross on Palm Sunday.
What is Maundy Thursday? Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter. Traditionally, people gather for prayer and a simple meal to commemorate the Last Supper and to celebrate Jesus’ commandment, “Love one another”. Some Christian churches include the act of washing feet, while other churches don’t observe Maundy Thursday at all.
What is Good Friday? The Friday before Easter, or Good Friday, is recognized as the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. Many churches cover their crosses with shrouds on Good Friday, and unveil the crosses on Easter Sunday. Traditionally, this was a day of fasting, but many denominations today don’t hold fasting as part of their belief system.
What is Easter Sunday? Christians believe that Easter Sunday is the day that Jesus rose again, fulfilling the prophesy in the scriptures that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, or the Christ. Easter is celebrated as a re-birth, for both the human spirit and nature (thus the symbols of Easter eggs and chicks).
Why does the date Easter falls on change every year? Easter is based on the lunar calendar, not on the regular calendar. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon of the vernal equinox. (The vernal equinox is the first day of spring, which can be March 20 or March 21.) The earliest Easter can occur is March 22, and the latest is April 25.
What is Ascension Day? In Christian tradition, Jesus went to heaven (or ascended) forty days after Easter. This is commonly a “quiet” Christian holiday, with prayerful reflection during a Sunday service.
What is Pentecost Sunday? Pentecost is observed ten days after Ascension Day, or fifty days after Easter. Pentecost is the day when the Holy Spirit came to the apostles granting them the gifts of prophesy and speaking in tongues.
There are many religious traditions surrounding Easter, and the observances of them vary from denomination to denomination within Christianity.
Professional church staff