Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the most important feast in the Christian calendar. The churches are filled with worshipers, the altars are decorated with flowers, and the music proclaims the joy of the season.
Easter Sunday falls sometime between March 22 and April 25. It falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following March 21. The date of Easter Sunday was established by the church council of Nicaea in A.D. 325.
Easter Sunday ends a period of preparation for the feast of Easter. This 40-day period of prayer and fasting, called Lent, begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. The week from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday is known as Holy Week. Good Friday marks Christ's crucifixion; and Easter Sunday, his resurrection.
The custom of a sunrise service on Easter Sunday can be traced to ancient spring festivals that celebrated the rising sun. The custom developed further in the Middle Ages, when celebrations at sunrise were also popular. People gathered to pray as the sun appeared and then went in procession to their churches.
The new clothes worn on Easter Sunday are a symbol of new life. The custom comes from the baptism on Easter Sunday of early Christians who were led into church wearing new robes of white linen. The present-day Easter parade has a parallel in the Middle Ages, when people walked about the country-side on Easter, stopping along the way to pray. Nowadays many people walk in Easter parades to show and see new spring clothes, especially hats.