For Christians, Easter is the most important holiday of the year; the annual celebration of Christ’s resurrection after being crucified. The Edict of Milan in the year 313 officially ended Roman Empire’s persecution of Christians. Emperor Constantine was the first Christian Emperor. A few years later in 325, The First Council of Nicea took place to standardized Christian practices and holidays. To address and respect all religions across the Roman Empire, The Council composed of Bishops incorporated many beliefs, traditions and holidays into the calendar. Roman calendars have traditionally revolved solar cycles. Out of respect for the Jews in the Empire, the Council decreed that Easter would be a movable feast based on the lunar cycles of the Jewish calendar, where the Jewish Passover is the first full moon after the spring equinox. Therefor, Easter Sunday has always been the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, also called the vernal equinox.
Easter can fall anywhere between March 22nd and April 25th.
The origins of the word Easter are unclear; it may be derived from the Pagan goddess Eostre whose feast was traditionally celebrated in spring the season of renewal. Eggs were traditionally forbidden during Lent and symbolized a new life. The Easter Bunny goes back to the Egyptian symbology that used the image of a rabbit to represent fertility. The Lamb signifies multiple things with both Christianity and Judaism. Moses was commanded by God to sacrifice a lamb and smear its blood on the doorframes of their homes so that the destroying angel would know to Passover the home sparring the first bond child. According to the Gospels, Jesus was crucified on the morning after the Passover feast. Jesus is often referred to as The Lamb of God.
Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, is the only non-federal Holiday where the stock market is closed. There is some Wall Street lore that the stock market is closed because of the market crash back in 1869. But that crash affected the gold market and not stocks. The myth contends that the NYSE opened on a Good Friday and the terrible Black Friday occurred. Thus, chastened and shaken, the Governors vowed to never open on a Good Friday again. But the real reason the market is closed on Good Friday has more to do with the fact that there have been many Irish Catholic chairmen and Irish Catholic traders in the exchange's history that were expected to be in church on Good Friday. And church-going meant that demand and trading activity would have been light on Good Friday. The word Friday itself also dates back the Latin dies Veneris “day of Venus” another legacy of going back to the First Council of Micea.
In Roman culture, Sunday was the day of the Sun god. It was adopted by Christians who did not have a Jewish background. In paganism, the sun was a source of life, giving warmth and illumination to mankind. It was the center of a popular cult among Romans, who would stand at dawn to catch the first rays of sunshine as they prayed. The celebration of the winter solstice (which influenced Christmas) was part of the Roman cult of the sun. Christian churches were built with an orientation so that the congregation faced toward the sunrise in the East.
Easter Sunday celebrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead, following crucifixion. It marks the end of Holy Week, the end of Lent, and the last day of the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday), as well as the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year.
The resurrection represents the triumph of good over evil, sin, death, and the physical body.