[ ee-ster ]
/ ˈi stər /
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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.
Also called Easter Sunday. the day on which this festival is celebrated.
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; originally name of a goddess and her festival; akin to east


post-Easter, adjectivepre-Easter, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is Easter?

Easter is the holiday on which Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus following his crucifixion and death (observed on Good Friday). It is considered the most important Christian holiday.

Easter is also widely observed in secular (nonreligious) ways and is often associated with rebirth and the start of springtime.

Easter always occurs on a Sunday, and the day is sometimes called Easter Sunday.

In religious contexts, Easter can also refer to the Easter season. Sometimes, this is considered to consist of Easter Sunday and the week after. Some branches of Christianity consider the Easter season to last for 50 days, until the day of Pentecost.

When is Easter?

Easter always falls on a Sunday, but its date moves every year. That’s because Easter is observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox.

In 2022, Easter will fall on April 17. In 2023, it will fall on April 9.

In the Orthodox Church, the date of Easter is determined using the Julian calendar (as opposed to the Gregorian calendar, which is used in Western Christianity).

In 2022, the Orthodox Church will observe Easter on April 24. In 2023, the Orthodox Church will observe Easter on April 16.

Why is it called Easter?

The first records of the word Easter come from before the year 900. The word comes from the name of the Germanic goddess Eostre, who was honored with a spring festival. The word east is related.

How is Easter celebrated?

Easter is considered the most important Christian holiday due to the central importance of the resurrection in the Christian faith. It follows what is sometimes called Holy Week, which commemorates the events that led up to Jesus’s resurrection, including the Last Supper (on Holy Thursday) and his crucifixion and death (on Good Friday). For Christians, it is a time of celebration following the fasting and somber reflection that takes place in the days before Easter and during the season of Lent. Church attendance is known for being especially high on Easter (with some Christians attending church only on the major feasts of Christmas and Easter).

Many people who celebrate Easter, including Christians, also take part in Easter activities that are nonreligious or that have a basis in Pagan rituals. Popular activities include the decoration of Easter eggs, Easter egg hunts, and giving children Easter baskets filled with candy (which are sometimes said to be delivered by the Easter Bunny—a symbol of springtime and new life).

What are some terms that often get used in discussing Easter?

How is Easter discussed in real life?

For Christians, Easter is the most important holiday and a time of celebration. It is also commonly observed in nonreligious ways as a celebration of springtime.


Try using Easter!

True or False?

Easter always takes place on the same date.

How to use Easter in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Easter

/ (ˈiːstə) /

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
Also called: Easter Sunday, Easter Day the day on which this festival is celebrated
the period between Good Friday and Easter Monday

Other words from Easter

Related adjective: paschal

Word Origin for Easter

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

Cultural definitions for 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.

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.