Easter in the western Christian church can occur as early as March 22 and as late as April 25. It is observed on the Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, which occurs on or shortly after March 21 (a fixed spring date set by the church). The Paschal Full Moon date was determined by calculations made in a.d. 325 that did not consider all factors of lunar motion, so it may differ from the actual full Moon date by a day or so.
This Christian holy day celebrates the resurrection of Christ after his Crucifixion and was probably the earliest of the church's annual festivals. Folk customs attached to the festival date from pre-Christian times:
* Eggs, traditionally forbidden during Lent, symbolize new life.
* The Easter Bunny recalls the hare, the Egyptian symbol of fertility.
Easter may have derived its name from the Saxon goddess Eostre, whose feast was celebrated each spring at about this time. Or it may have derived from the word oster, meaning "rising."
US: Virgin Islands Transfer Day
Born 1596: Rene Descartes (philosopher)
Born 1621: Andrew Marvell (poet)
Born 1732: Franz Joseph Haydn (composer)
1776: Abigail Adams wrote her husband, John, at the second Continental Congress about the proposed Declaration of Independence, "Remember the ladies and be more favorable and generous to them than your ancestors."
Born 1811: Robert Bunsen (chemist)
Born 1835: John La Farge (painter)
1840: President Van Buren issued executive order establishing 10-hour workday for federal employees
1854: Commodore Matthew C. Perry signed Treaty of Kanagawa of friendship and trade with Japan
Born 1878: Jack Johnson (boxer)
1880: Wabash, Indiana, became first incorporated community to be completely illuminated by electricity
1889: The Eiffel Tower was dedicated in Paris, France
Born 1908: Kenneth "Red" Norvo (musician)
Born 1914: Octavio Paz (poet)
1917: United States took formal possession of Virgin Islands from Denmark
1918: Daylight Saving Time, greeted by opposition from farmers, went into effect for first time
1923: First dance marathon held in U.S.
Born 1927: Cesar Chavez (founder of United Farm Workers)
Born 1927: William Daniels (actor)
Born 1929: Liz Claiborne (fashion designer)
Died 1931: Knute Rockne (football coach)
1933: Act creating Civilian Conservation Corps for unemployed young men signed by President FDR
Born 1934: Shirley Jones (actress)
Born 1934: Richard Chamberlain (actor)
1943: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma opened on Broadway
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Born 1948: Al Gore (45th U.S. vice president)
Born 1948: Rhea Perlman (actress)
1949: Newfoundland joined Canadian Federation as the tenth province
1959: The Dalai Lama fleeing Chinese occupation of Tibet, was given political asylum by India
1967: NATO Supreme Military Headquarters formally opened in Casteau, Belgium
1968: In a television speech, President Lyndon Johnson announced he would neither seek nor accept nomination for another term
1969: Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Slaughterhouse Five, published
1970: The first U.S. satellite, Explorer I, returned to the earth's atmosphere more than 12 years after its launch
1971: U.S. Army jury sentenced Lt. William Calley to life imprisonment for murder of S. Vietnamese civilians at My Lai in 1968
Born 1971: Ewan McGregor (actor)
Born 1971: Pavel Bure (hockey player)
1976: The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the mechanical life sustaining system could be removed from Karen Ann Quinlan
Born 1976: Josh Saviano (actor)
1982: Team owners and the National Basketball Players Association agreed on a four-year labor contract which introduced revenue sharing for players for the first time in professional sports
1987: New Jersey judge Harvey R. Sorkow awarded custody of "Baby M" to William and Elizabeth Stern and ruled that the surrogate parents' contracts were constitutionally protected
Died 1993: Brandon Lee (actor)
Died 2005: Frank Perdue (transformed a backyard egg business into one of the nation's largest poultry processors, Perdue Farms)
Died 2005: Terri Schiavo died after a national controversy about the legality of terminating her medical life-support system