How long is the Season of Easter?

Priest blesses Easter baskets. Photo by Robert Zajack.
Photo by Robert Zajack

At 50 days long, the Easter Season occupies the longest liturgical season of the year, outside of Ordinary Time. It comes after the conclusion of Lent and the Sacred Paschal Triduum, where we commemorate Jesus’ Passion, death and resurrection.

So, while it certainly feels like Easter Sunday is the fittingly celebratory end of the solemn Lenten season—we gather for a feast with our families, and “hallelujah” returns to our lips—it is actually the beginning of the Easter Season, which, just like Christmas, goes far beyond a single day. 

But why 50 days? Jesus remained on Earth for 40 days after His resurrection—accounting for the first 40 days of the season—before His ascension into heaven, which we celebrate on the 40th day of Easter. This period of 40 days echoes Jesus’ temptation in the desert, as well as the 40 days of flood described in Genesis—among many other references to the Number 40 in the Bible. 

Where “40” appears throughout Scripture, it often describes a period of tribulation and struggle, so that number feels like it should not apply to the period of time after Jesus’ resurrection—which is so joyful for us. But we have the full picture. Imagine how the Apostles must have felt after Jesus’ death on the cross—as He appeared to them over time, stripping away their doubts until their faith was fully restored, preparing them to lead the Church forward.

The season of Easter then extends 10 additional days to Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples and empowers them to spread the faith. Thus, with the framing of Pentecost as the culmination of the Easter Season and the creation of the Church, the position of Easter Sunday as a beginning becomes clear. 

Jesus rose from the dead; He prepared the disciples; He empowered them. And we, the Church of today, have inherited a lineage directly from Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!

Father John Sheridan and Bishop Bonnar will discuss the Season of Easter on The Catholic Echo Podcast on Sunday, March 31. Tune in to hear the interview, followed by a preview of upcoming Catholic Echo magazine content from Echo editor Katie Wagner.


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Collin Vogt

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