0069 – Otho committed suicide after being defeated by Vitellius’ troops at Bedriacum.
0556 – Pelagius I began his reign as Catholic Pope.
1065 – The Norman Robert Guiscard took Bari. Five centuries of Byzantine rule in southern Italy ended.
1175 – Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, signed the Treaty of Montebello with the Lombard League.
1705 – Queen Anne of England knighted Isaac Newton.
1746 – The Duke of Cumberland defeated Bonnie Prince Charlie (and his Jacobites) at the battle of Culloden.
1818 – The U.S. Senate ratified Rush-Bagot amendment to form an unarmed U.S.-Canada border.
1851 – A lighthouse was swept away in a gale at Minot’s Ledge, MA.
1854 – San Salvador was destroyed by an earthquake.
1862 – Confederate President Jefferson Davis approved conscription act for white males between 18 and 35.
1862 – In the U.S., slavery was abolished by law in the District of Columbia.
1883 – Paul Kruger became president of the South African Republic.
1900 – The first book of postage stamps was issued. The two-cent stamps were available in books of 12, 24 and 48 stamps.
1905 – Andrew Carnegie donated $10,000,000 of personal money to set up the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
1912 – Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
1917 – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin returned to Russia to start Bolshevik Revolution after years of exile.
1922 – Annie Oakley shot 100 clay targets in a row, to set a women’s record.
1922 – The Soviet Union and Germany signed the Treaty of Rapallo under which Germany recognized the Soviet Union and diplomatic and trade relations were restored.
1935 – “Fibber McGee and Molly” premiered.
1940 – The first no-hit, no-run game to be thrown on an opening day of the major league baseball season was earned by Bob Feller. The Cleveland Indians beat the Chicago White Sox 1-0.
1942 – The Island of Malta was awarded the George Cross in recognition for heroism under constant German air attack.
1943 – In Basel, Switzerland, chemist Albert Hoffman accidently discovered the the hallucinogenic effects of LSD-25 while working on the medicinal value of lysergic acid.
1944 – The destroyer USS Laffey survived immense damage from attacks by 22 Japanese aircraft off Okinawa.
1945 – American troops entered Nuremberg, Germany.
1947 – The Zoomar lens, invented by Dr. Frank Back, was demonstrated in New York City. It was the first lens to exhibit zooming effects.
1947 – In Texas City, TX, the French ship Grandcamp, carrying ammonium nitrate fertilizer, caught fire and blew up. The explosions and resulting fires killed 576 people.
1948 – In Paris, the Organization for European Economic Co-operation was set up.
1951 – 75 people were killed when the British submarine Affray sank in the English Channel.
1953 – The British royal yacht Britannia was launched.
1962 – Walter Cronkite began anchoring “The CBS Evening News”.
1967 – At the Western Open in El Monte, CA, Ken Barnes Jr. became the first skeet shooter to break a perfect 400 x 400 in all four guns (.410, 28, 20, and 12 gauges). He is also the only shooter to do this with pump action guns.
1968 – The Pentagon announced that troops would begin coming home from Vietnam.
1968 – Major league baseball’s longest night game was played when the Houston Astros defeated the New York Mets 1-0. The 24 innings took six hours, six minutes to play.
1972 – Apollo 16 blasted off on a voyage to the moon. It was the fifth manned moon landing.
1972 – Two giants pandas arrived in the U.S. from China.
1975 – The Khmer Rouge Rebels won control of Cambodia after a five years of civil war. They renamed the country Kampuchea and began a reign of terror.
1978 – In Orissa, India, 180 people died when a tornado hit.
1982 – Queen Elizabeth proclaimed Canada’s new constitution in effect. The act severed the last colonial links with Britain.
1983 – China shelled the Vietnam border in retaliation for raids.
1983 – Brazil detained four Libyan planes en route to Nicaragua after finding weapons, explosives and ammunition on the planes.
1985 – Mickey Mantle was reinstated after being banned from baseball for several years.
1987 – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sternly warned U.S. radio stations to watch the use of indecent language on the airwaves.
1987 – The U.S. Patent Office began allowing the patenting of new animals created by genetic engineering.
1992 – Italian financier Carlo de Benedetti and 32 others were convicted of fraud in connection with the 1982 collapse of Banco Ambrosiano.
1992 – The House ethics committee listed 303 current and former lawmakers who had overdrawn their House bank accounts.
1995 – The European Union and Canada agreed to protect threatened fish stocks in the north Atlantic.
1996 – Britain’s Prince Andrew and his wife, Sarah, the Duchess of York, announced that they were in the process of getting a divorce.
1996 – An Italian court found former Prime Minister Bettino Craxi guilty on charges of corruption. He was sentenced to eight years and three months in prison.
1999 – Wayne Gretzky announced his retirement from the National Hockey League (NHL).
2002 – The U.S. Supreme Court overturned major parts of a 1996 child pornography law based on rights to free speech.
2007 – In Blacksburg, VA, a student killed 33 people at Virginia Tech before killing himself.
Easter, which celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, is Christianity’s most important holiday. It has been called a moveable feast because it doesn’t fall on a set date every year, as most holidays do.
Instead, Christian churches in the West celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox on March 21. Therefore, Easter is observed anywhere between March 22 and April 25 every year. Orthodox Christians use the Julian calendar to calculate when Easter will occur and typically celebrate the holiday a week or two after the Western churches, which follow the Gregorian calendar.
The exact origins of this religious feast day’s name are unknown. Some sources claim the word Easter is derived from Eostre, a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility. Other accounts trace Easter to the Latin term hebdomada alba, or white week, an ancient reference to Easter week and the white clothing donned by people who were baptized during that time. Through a translation error, the term later appeared as esostarum in Old High German, which eventually became Easter in English. In Spanish, Easter is known as Pascua; in French, Paques. These words are derived from the Greek and Latin Pascha or Pasch, for Passover. Jesus‘ crucifixion and resurrection occurred after he went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew), the Jewish festival commemorating the ancient Israelites’ exodus from slavery in Egypt. Pascha eventually came to mean Easter.
Over 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies are made each year
Easter is really an entire season of the Christian church year, as opposed to a single-day observance. Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday, is a time of reflection and penance and represents the 40 days that Jesus spent alone in the wilderness before starting his ministry, a time in which Christians believe he survived various temptations by the devil. The day before Lent, known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, is a last hurrah of food and fun before the fasting begins. The week preceding Easter is called Holy Week and includes Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with his disciples; Good Friday, which honors the day of his crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, which focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection. The 50-day period following Easter Sunday is called Eastertide and includes a celebration of Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
In addition to Easter’s religious significance, it also has a commercial side, as evidenced by the mounds of jelly beans and marshmallow chicks that appear in stores each spring. As with Christmas, over the centuries various folk customs and pagan traditions, including Easter eggs, bunnies, baskets and candy, have become a standard part of this holy holiday.