WHEN: 40 days after Ash Wednesday (not including Sundays)
Easter immediately follows Lent, and like Christmas is more than a single day. The Easter season (Eastertide) last fifty days and concludes with the Day of Pentecost.
MEANING: Christ’s Resurrection
The bodily coming to life again of Jesus stands at the centre of the gospel. All four gospels speak of it. And the creeds affirm it. This is a period of much joy emphasising the teachings of Jesus during his post-resurrection appearances. This is a time of feasting and celebration. The long fast of Lent is over. Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
The development of the Easter season was gradual in Church history. Various branches of the early church celebrated on different days. In time agreement moved in the direction of a common day. The council of Nicaea (325) set the celebration on the Sunday after the spring equinox (one of two times per year, the other being the autumn equinox, when there is a location on the earth’s equator where the centre of the sun can be seen to be vertically overhead). However, to this day, Easter falls on different days in the Eastern Orthodox as compared to the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Anglican churches owing to the use of different calendars. What is common, is the faithful affirmation that Christ is Risen!
Special days in Easter season include:
ASCENSION OF OUR LORD
The Feast of the Ascension observes Christ’s ascension to the Father 40 days after his resurrection. Thus Ascension Day falls 40 days after Easter Sunday, on the 6th Thursday of Easter season. The celebration of this day is often transferred to the next Sunday.
Pentecost is the 50th and final day of the Easter Season. It remembers the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles in the book of Acts, thus giving birth to the Church.