Why is the Easter season 50 days long?

United Methodist founder Charles Wesley’s Easter hymn “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” is a celebration of resurrection and new life. Image by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications.
United Methodist founder Charles Wesley’s Easter hymn “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” is a celebration of resurrection and new life. Image by Kathryn Price, United Methodist Communications.

Easter for Christians is not just one day - it's a 50-day period. The season of Easter, or Eastertide, begins at sunset on the eve of Easter and ends on Pentecost, the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church (see Acts 2).

Easter season is more than just an extended celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. In the early church, Lent was a season for new converts to learn about the faith and prepare for baptism on Easter Sunday. The initial purpose of the 50-day Easter season was to continue the faith formation of these new Christians.

Today, this extended season gives us time to rejoice and experience what it means when we say Christ is risen. It’s the season when we remember our baptisms and how, through this sacrament, we are “incorporated into Christ’s mighty acts of salvation.” As “Easter people,” we celebrate and ponder the birth of the Church and gifts of the Spirit (Pentecost), and how we are to live as faithful disciples of Christ.

Many churches use these weeks to teach the theology of the sacraments and help people discern their spiritual gifts and callings. Congregations may have a service of commissioning laypersons into ministry as part of their Pentecost celebration.

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This content was produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.