|18 April||Friday||Good Friday|
|21 April||Monday||Easter Monday|
In 2014, Easter will be celebrated with Good Friday on 18 April and Easter Monday on 21 April.
Easter is the oldest of the Christian festivals. It is celebrated approximately at the end of the first quarter of the calendar year although its date changes depending on the lunar cycle.
Easter remembers the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and globally encompasses three specific days of celebration. In Australia there is a fourth day taken as a part of the holiday.
The first day of the four days is Good Friday, which is the day on which Christians remember that Jesus Christ was arrested and how he died. The following day is known, in some denominations, as Holy Saturday. Then Easter Sunday, or simply Easter, is the day of celebration when Jesus Christ was resurrected from death. Monday is considered a day of renewal.
“Easter the scholars tell us, is the oldest feast in the history of Christianity, but it really only came into focus as a distinct celebration in the late second century… The truth is that Easter, Resurrection, has been celebrated in the church every Sunday since the first week after the resurrection itself.” – Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year
Australia, and much of the western world, follows the Gregorian calendar. The date of Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs on or after the March equinox. Many Eastern Christians who live in Australia use the Julian calendar, which can put their dates of Easter up to several weeks after western churches. The official Australian Easter long weekend gets its dates from the western Gregorian calendar.
Prior to Easter, many Christians in Australia recognise the season of Lent – a period of 40 days of partial fasting, and abstinence from meat, that prepares the person for the celebration.
The period of Easter, and the public holidays surrounding it, has a large impact on all of the country for almost all people regardless of their faith. For many weeks before the weekend, shops sell hot-cross buns – a spicy fruit bun with a cross of dough paste on top – and Easter eggs and rabbits, usually of chocolate. The histories of these items are varied and mixed with folklore, but the cross on the bread can be related to the wooden cross that Jesus was hung on, and the eggs are often related to the new life that his death and resurrection promises.
On the weekend of Easter, families and community groups set up Easter egg hunts where children search through houses and gardens for chocolates and treats that have been hidden by parents and friends and, on the Friday and Sunday, Christians attend church services.
The Easter long weekend is one of two major holiday periods in the year, Christmas being the other, when many people travel and holiday. Schools often cause their holidays to fall around Easter meaning that children and parents will take at least several days away to enjoy the Autumn weather.