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Easter

[ee-ster]
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noun
  1. an annual Christian festival in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, as calculated according to tables based in Western churches on the Gregorian calendar and in Orthodox churches on the Julian calendar.
  2. Also called Easter Sunday. the day on which this festival is celebrated.
  3. the Easter season; the week following Easter.
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Origin of Easter

before 900; Middle English ester, Old English ēastre; cognate with German Ostern; orig. name of a goddess and her festival; akin to east
Related formspost-Eas·ter, adjectivepre-Eas·ter, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for pre-easter

Easter

noun
  1. the most important festival of the Christian Church, commemorating the Resurrection of Christ: falls on the Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox
  2. Also called: Easter Sunday, Easter Day the day on which this festival is celebrated
  3. the period between Good Friday and Easter Monday
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Related formsRelated adjective: paschal

Word Origin

Old English ēastre, after a Germanic goddess Eostre; related to Old High German ōstarūn Easter, Old Norse austr to the east, Old Slavonic ustru like summer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for pre-easter

Easter

Old English Easterdæg, from Eastre (Northumbrian Eostre), from Proto-Germanic *Austron, a goddess of fertility and spring, probably originally of sunrise whose feast was celebrated at the spring equinox, from *austra-, from PIE *aus- "to shine" (especially of the dawn).

Bede says Anglo-Saxon Christians adopted her name and many of the celebratory practices for their Mass of Christ's resurrection. Ultimately related to east. Almost all neighboring languages use a variant of Latin Pascha to name this holiday (see paschal). Easter egg attested by 1825, earlier pace egg (1610s). Easter bunny attested by 1904 in children's lessons; Easter rabbit is by 1888; the paganish customs of Easter seem to have grown popular c. 1900; before that they were limited to German immigrants.

If the children have no garden, they make nests in the wood-shed, barn, or house. They gather colored flowers for the rabbit to eat, that it may lay colored eggs. If there be a garden, the eggs are hidden singly in the green grass, box-wood, or elsewhere. On Easter Sunday morning they whistle for the rabbit, and the children imagine that they see him jump the fence. After church, on Easter Sunday morning, they hunt the eggs, and in the afternoon the boys go out in the meadows and crack eggs or play with them like marbles. Or sometimes children are invited to a neighbor's to hunt eggs. [Phebe Earle Gibbons, "Pennsylvania Dutch," Philadelphia 1882]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pre-easter in Culture

Easter

An important religious festival among Christians (see also Christian); it commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus after his Crucifixion. Easter is celebrated on a Sunday in spring, and the season of Easter, a time of rejoicing, continues for several weeks. The penitential season of Lent is a time of preparation for Easter.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.