This Sunday, April 16, eggs will be dyed and pastels will be worn. But, Easter Sunday, as it's known in Christianity, is actually considered the most important and sacred Sunday of the entire year. It marks the anniversary of Jesus' resurrection and ascension to heaven — and observing this holiday can teach Christians a lot more about faith than bunnies.
Easter arrives at the end of Holy Week and right after Good Friday, which commemorates Jesus' crucifixion and death. Where Good Friday is essentially a day of mourning, Easter celebrates Jesus' evasion of death. It's not uncommon for Christians to greet each other by saying "Christ has risen" in the same way they'd say "Merry Christmas."
This greeting doesn't just acknowledge the belief that Jesus rose from his grave. It's also used as a confirmation of faith. The Bible states that if Jesus hadn't risen, Christian preaching and faith would have been "in vain" or even "empty." In other words, the belief that Christians have in Jesus' divinity is rooted in the moment of his resurrection.
Without that part of the Easter story, Jesus simply dies and that's it. According to the Bible, Jesus' death was a sacrifice for the sins of others, but his resurrection represents something even more powerful: the potential for rebirth, salvation, and renewal of faith.
That's why Easter celebrations are preceded by Lent (a time of abstinence and penance), the Easter Vigil (when new believers are baptised), and, sometimes, the sacrament of confession. After a season of shedding bad habits and resisting temptations, Easter is the perfect opportunity for Christians to recommit to their beliefs.
So, despite the pastel-colored decorations and kids' games, Easter is a pretty serious holiday at its core. It celebrates Christians' belief in the divine power of Jesus and the hope that loss leads to something new. This doesn't mean it's all gloom and doom, but Easter definitely calls for some solemn reflection among observant Christians. Luckily, many are able to make time for church services and an egg hunt or two.
Editor's note: The headline on this story has been updated.