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Major festival of the Christian church year, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on the third day after his crucifixion. In Western churches it falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25, depending on the date of the first full moon after the spring equinox. This time span was fixed after the Council of Nicaea (AD 325). In the Eastern Orthodox calendar, which uses a different calculation, it often falls later. A joyful festival and a time of redemption, Easter brings an end to the long period of penance that constitutes Lent. The word is sometimes said to have been derived from Eostre, a Germanic goddess of spring, but other origins of the term more closely associated with Christian traditions have been proposed. Easter has acquired a number of religious and popular customs. The Easter worship service is one of the high points of the Christian calendar, and since the late 2nd century Easter has also been a time for baptism. The painting of eggs and tales of a rabbit who decorates and hides eggs are among the folk customs associated with the holiday.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Easter, visit Britannica.com.