Who originated Easter

The Easter festival

Easter is the most important holiday in the Christian calendar, even before Christmas. Christmas symbolizes the birth of Jesus Christ, but Easter stands for resurrection, the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Easter marks the end of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday; The origins of the Christian Easter are in the Jewish Passover or Passover festival. Passover commemorates the Exodus, the departure of the Israelites from Egypt; the Last Supper, the crucifixion, and the resurrection took place during the Jewish Passover and are thus associated with Christian Easter. Many Passover symbols, such as unleavened bread and the Easter lamb, have also found their way into the Christian holiday.


Origin of Easter

However, Easter is not really a Christian invention. Easter as a spring festival goes back to Ostara, a pagan festival. This was celebrated every year on the equinox in honor of various fertility goddesses across Europe. The pre-Christian (and pre-industrial) religions were based on the cycle of the seasons, which were decisive for agriculture and animal husbandry. Ostara marked the beginning of spring - winter was over, the days were getting longer and most of all the sowing began in the fields, which in turn brought new life and fertility. The word "Ostara" itself apparently comes from the name Eostre, an Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring. In converting the pagans in the first few centuries of our era, the church may have made use of the pagan feast days that already existed. Instead of enforcing its own calendar with the various church holidays, the church converted already existing pagan holidays into Christian holidays. Since Ostara and Holy Week coincided so closely, this Spring Festival was simply incorporated and the word "Ostara" became "Easter" at some point.


When does Easter take place?

Up until the beginning of the 4th century there was no uniform, church-wide regulation on exactly what day Easter should be celebrated. The Jewish festival of Passover lasts seven or eight days; but only three days passed between the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Depending on how the bishops and abbots determined it, the resurrection was celebrated on Friday, Sunday or Saturday. It was not until the Council of Nicaea in 325 that the date was calculated: Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox on March 21st. This date is used to determine when Holy Week takes place and when Lent begins - 40 days before Easter Sunday. The Orthodox Church, however, still uses the Julian calendar; here the reference date for the calculation is April 3rd.


Literature & teaching material on Easter

Information on Easter origin and the You can find Easter holidays here:

You can find more Easter customs in our overview for Easter tradition or directly here: