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."