The Very First Easter Was Today In 31 AD, According To Dionysius Exiguus


The Resurrection of Jesus Christ, fresco by Piero della Francesca, 1463. (Museo Civico di Sansepolcro/Wikimedia Commons)

Pretty much every culture celebrates the arrival of flowers, babies, and everything else that comes with spring. Pagans celebrate a time of renewal, those of the Jewish faith celebrate the history and the hope symbolized by the Exodus from Egypt during Passover, and Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus with magic rabbits, chocolate eggs, and a lot of candy. What's up with that?

Where Did Easter Come From?

Theoretically, the first Easter occurred in 31 C.E., although Biblical scholars will argue forever about exactly when the resurrection occurred. Whatever the case, much of the festivities, including their timing, have roots in the pagan celebration of Eostre, honoring the goddess of the same name, though Christians put a distinctly puritan spin on things. Eostre celebrations, which occurred on the vernal equinox, traditionally involved wine, orgies, and other celebrations of fertility that happened to let those ancient pagans get their freak on.