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The ecclesiastical historian Socrates Scholasticus attributes the observance of Easter by the church to the perpetuation of its custom, "just as many other customs have been established", stating that neither Jesus nor his Apostles enjoined the keeping of this or any other festival.Although he describes the details of the Easter celebration as deriving from local custom, he insists the feast itself is universally observed.Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover by much of its symbolism, as well as by its position in the calendar.

The most widely accepted theory of the origin of the term is that it is derived from the name of an Old English goddess mentioned by the 7th to 8th-century English monk Bede, who wrote that Ēosturmōnaþ (Old English 'Month of Ēostre', translated in Bede's time as "Paschal month") was an English month, corresponding to April, which he says "was once called after a goddess of theirs named Ēostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month".

This interpretation, however, is inconsistent with the chronology in the Synoptic Gospels.

It assumes that text literally translated "the preparation of the passover" in John refers to Nisan 14 (Preparation Day for the Passover) and not necessarily to Yom Shishi (Friday, Preparation Day for the Passover week Sabbath) Jewish Christians, the first to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, timed the observance in relation to Passover.

Easter and the holidays that are related to it are moveable feasts, in that they do not fall on a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars (both of which follow the cycle of the sun and the seasons).

Instead, the date for Easter is determined on a lunisolar calendar similar to the Hebrew calendar.

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