For Catholics, Easter isn’t a single day dedicated to celebrating Christ’s resurrection. It’s an entire season!
According to the USCCB, Easter is the principal feast of the liturgical year:
“Easter is the most important liturgical time for Catholics. It celebrates Jesus’s victory of sin and death and salvation for mankind. It is God’s greatest act of love to redeem mankind.”
Here’s five additional things to know about Easter:
1) Easter isn’t a simple holiday. It’s an entire season!
The liturgical season of Easter lasts for 50 days! It is the second-longest season on the Church calendar.
Each year, Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the spring equinox, and ends with the celebration of Pentecost.
2) The Word “Easter” Holds Meaning
“The word ‘Easter’ comes from Old English, meaning simply the ‘East.’ The sun which rises in the East, bringing light, warmth, and hope, is a symbol for the Christian of the rising Christ, who is the true Light of the world.” (USCCB)
3) The Octave of Easter
The period of Easter Sunday until Divine Mercy Sunday (or, the second Sunday of Easter) is called the Octave of Easter.
This is the first phase of the Easter season and an extension of the Easter celebration. Eastertide is considered the period of time after the octave of Easter.
4) Divine Mercy Sunday
We celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday on the second Sunday of Easter.
Jesus expressed His desire for a feast celebrating his mercy and told Sr. Faustina that it was to be the Sunday after Easter.
“Jesus said to Sr. Faustina one day: ‘Humanity will never find peace until it turns with trust to Divine Mercy’ (Diary, p. 132). Divine Mercy! This is the Easter gift that the Church receives from the risen Christ and offers to humanity at the dawn of the third millennium.”
5) Includes the Feast of the Ascension
The feast of Christ’s Ascension into Heaven falls on the 40th day of Easter.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (665-667):
“Christ’s ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, whence he will come again (cf. Acts 1:11). . . Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him forever. Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”
A Prayer for Easter from St. Hippolytus of Rome
Christ is Risen: The world below lies desolate
Christ is Risen: The spirits of evil are fallen
Christ is Risen: The angels of God are rejoicing
Christ is Risen: The tombs of the dead are empty
Christ is Risen indeed from the dead, the first of the sleepers,
Glory and power are his forever and ever.
– St. Hippolytus of Rome