What is the meaning of Easter and why do Christians celebrate it?

Christians all over the world will celebrate Easter on Sunday, April 1. The religious occasion commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ as part of the observance of the season of Lent.

(REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)Members of the Italian community take part in a re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday in Bensheim, southwest of Frankfurt, Germany, April 14, 2017.

In the Christian church year, Lent covers the 40-day period that leads up to Easter Sunday. The 40 days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert where he went through tough tests of faith. The week before Easter Sunday is called Holy Week, which includes Christ's Last Supper with his apostles before his crucifixion on Good Friday.

In the Western calendar, Easter Sunday falls between March 22 and April 25, or the Sunday that follows the Paschal Full Moon. Because this varies every year, Easter is considered a moveable feast, which means it has no set date.

The origins of Easter celebrations are unknown but there have been suggestions alluding to pagan rituals. Because of this, some churches prefer to call Easter Sunday as Resurrection Day.

The word "Easter" is mentioned only once in the King James Bible version in Acts 12:1-4. In other verses in the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus is either referred to as Sunday or the day of Resurrection. Churches later developed various traditions and rituals of Easter over centuries.

Some Christians celebrate Easter as a link to the Passover, which commemorates God's liberation of the Jews from ancient Egypt. In other churches, the customs and services center on Holy Masses, confessions, penitence and abstinence, vigils and novenas. However, Easter Sunday for Christians is regarded like Christmas in that it is Jesus Christ's rebirth.

The week leading up to Easter Sunday is usually a public holiday in countries where Christianity is the religion of the state. Most establishments also close on Maundy (Holy) Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday to allow Christians to observe religious traditions and reflect on the life and death of Jesus Christ.