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4/5/15

Christianity: What Is Easter and Why Do Christians Celebrate?

On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ. It is typically the most well-attended Sunday service of the year for Christian churches.

Christians believe, according to Scripture, that Jesus came back to life, or was raised from the dead, three days after his death on the cross.

As part of the Easter season, the death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is commemorated on Good Friday, always the Friday just before Easter. Through his death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus paid the penalty for sin, thus purchasing for all who believe in him, eternal life in Christ Jesus.

(For a more detailed explanation about his death and resurrection, see Why Did Jesus Have to Die? and Timeline of Jesus' Final Hours.)

In Western Christianity, Easter marks the end of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline in preparation for Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. Eastern Orthodox churches observe Lent or Great Lent, during the 6 weeks or 40 days preceding Palm Sunday with fasting continuing during the Holy Week of Easter. Lent for Eastern Orthodox churches begins on Monday and Ash Wednesday is not observed.

Because of Easter's pagan origins, and also because of the commercialization of Easter, many Christian churches choose to refer to the holiday as Resurrection Day.

Read more: What Is Easter and Why Do Christians Celebrate?

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