Easter is Christianity's most important holiday, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. It is a moveable feast in that it falls on different calendar days. The date of Easter is dependent on the first full moon after the vernal equinox on March 21. Easter may be observed in Western churches between March 22 and April 25 each year. In Eastern churches, Easter is celebrated usually on a different date because Eastern Christianity bases its calculations of the full moon on the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar.
Easter is the culmination of a 40-day period called Lent, a season of fasting and prayer. This period also includes minor holidays such as Fat Tuesday, which is the day before the beginning of Lent, and Ash Wednesday, which marks the first day of Lent. Easter is also preceded by Holy Week, which occurs a week before Easter. In some churches, Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday, which celebrates Jesus' arrival into Jerusalem. Other minor holidays in Holy Week include Maundy Thursday, which marks Jesus' last supper with his disciples, and Good Friday, which marks Jesus' trial, crucifixion, and death.
Some traditions celebrate not only Easter Sunday, but also Easter Monday. The Easter Season, also called Eastertide, is celebrated for between 40 days until Ascension Day, which celebrates Jesus' ascension into Heaven; however, some say that the season last 50 days until Pentecost, which celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit in the Christian tradition.
Easter is celebrated in different ways among Western Christians. A vigil is sometimes kept by Catholics, Lutherans, and Anglicans on the day before Easter. Some churches have sunrise services that begin in the dark and end at daybreak to celebrate the resurrection of the dead. Historically, recent converts to Christianity would be baptized on Easter. Also during church services on Easter Sunday, the Eucharist, also called Holy Communion, is celebrated.
Some Christian denominations do not celebrate Easter because they believe it is a pagan holiday or it is an idolatrous celebration. These churches still celebrate the resurrection of Jesus; however, they do not use the word Easter. Also, Quakers do not celebrate Easter Sunday because they say that Easter should be celebrated every day and not just one.
Though Easter is a Christian holiday, it is celebrated in secular ways as well. The Easter bunny and Easter eggs are among secular traditions in the English-speaking world. The Easter bunny is said to bring candy in a basket to children on Easter Sunday. In Central Europe, Slovaks and Czechs celebrate Easter Monday with tradition of whipping and watering of women to make them beautiful and fertile for the spring season.