The Season of Easter

Liturgical Color: White


The Easter Season, also known as “the Great Fifty Days,” begins at sunset Easter Eve and continues through the Day of Pentecost. It is the most joyous and celebrative season of the Christian year. It focuses on Christ’s Resurrection and ascension and on the givings of the Holy Spirit on the first Easter and the Day of Pentecost. Lessons from the Acts of the Apostles replace readings from the Old Testament because the early church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, is the best witness to the Resurrection. The ancient Christian name for this festival is  “Pasch,” derived from the Hebrew “pesah” (“deliverance” or “passover”), thus connecting the Resurrection to the Exodus. The origin of the English word Easter is disputed but may come from the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eastre and her festival. Pentecost comes from the Greek pentekoste, which means “fiftieth.” It refers to the Jewish Feast of Weeks, which Greek-speaking Jews called the Day of Pentecost. Early Christians also use the term Pentecost to refer to the Great Fifty Days as a season.

Baptisms, confirmations, and congregational reaffirmation of the baptismal covenant are highly appropriate throughout this season, most especially at the first service of Easter and on the day of Pentecost.

During the Great Three Days, from sunset Holy Thursday to sunset Easter Day, we celebrate the saving events of Jesus Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. In the development of Christian worship, each event came to be remembered on a separate day. In the earliest centuries, however, these events were celebrated as a unity in an extraordinary single liturgy that began Saturday night and continued until the dawn of Easter Day. It was known as the great Paschal (Easter) Vigil. Preceded by a fast day, it was the most holy and joyful night of the entire Christian year, for it proclaimed and celebrated the whole of salvation history and Christ’s saving work.

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