The Season of Easter
The season of Easter begins on Easter Sunday and lasts for 50 days through Pentecost Sunday. The date for Easter in most Western churches today is the first Sunday after the Paschal new moon. Since the date of this new moon can fluctuate from year to year, the date of Easter often changes from year to year as well.
During the season of Easter, Christians celebrate Jesus’ victory over death in His resurrection. Resurrection Sunday is the first day of the Easter season and marks the end of the season of Lent. Throughout the year, every Sunday is a kind of “little” Easter, where we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, but during Easter, the themes of resurrection and new life permeate every day of the season.
On the final Sunday of Easter, Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the promise of the Holy Spirit prophesied by Israel’s prophets (Joel 2:28–29; Ezekiel 26:27; Mark 1:8). It was during Pentecost—also known as the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament—that the early church received this promise and was empowered to proclaim the gospel (Acts 2).
In addition to Resurrection Sunday and Pentecost Sunday, the season of Easter also features the Ascension of the Lord. We read in Acts 1:3 that, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples for forty days before His ascension to heaven. This is why the Ascension of the Lord is observed on the fortieth day of the Easter season. Since this is always on a Thursday, the ascension is also observed on the following Sunday—Ascension Sunday. Though it is often overlooked today, Jesus’ ascension to the Father was an incredibly important event in the New Testament church. Several New Testament authors point to Jesus’ ascension as a fulfillment of Psalm 110:1. In fact, this is the most frequently cited Old Testament verse in the New Testament. For the first Christians, Jesus’ ascension to the right hand of the Father in heaven marked the beginning of Jesus’ reign as the Davidic King who would restore God’s Kingdom.