Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Easter, derived by Bede from the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre or Eastre, the personification seemingly of the dawn, whose festival fell on the vernal equinox; by others, with less probability, from the Anglo-Saxon oster, to rise; the chief festival of the Christian Church, commemorating the resurrection of Christ. Part of the ceremonies of the heathen festival lasted on in the Celtic celebrations of Beltane; and the Easter egg, symbolising life out of death, had probably a naturalistic before it had a theological meaning. All the other Church festivals are fixed by the date of Easter, which is determined in a manner to be found in the tables prefixed to the Anglican Prayer Book, and based on the Metonic cycle. In the early Church the method of its determination caused much controversy. Some kept it on the traditional anniversary of the Resurrection, i.e. on a different day of the week in successive years; others on the fourteenth day of the first moon in the year, which began in March - these were called Quartodecimans; others on the first Sunday after the first full moon in the year. The authority of St. Philip and St. John was alleged for the second method, which was adopted by the Eastern Church; that of St. Peter and St. Paul for the third. The Quartodecimans adopted Jewish practices, which were regarded as heretical; and a bitter controversy arose, which was settled by the decision of the Council of Niceea in 325 A.D., that Easter should fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after March 21. It cannot, therefore, fall before March 21 or after April 25., The name is often extended to the customary holidays before and after the day. The inconvenience resulting from their fluctuation has led to the cry for a "fixed Easter."