Happy Easter, Getting The Correct Dates
Easter (Greek: Πάσχα, Pascha) is the most important religious feast in the Christian liturgical year. Christians believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead three days after his crucifixion, and celebrate this resurrection on Easter Day or Easter Sunday (also Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday), two days after Good Friday. The chronology of his death and resurrection is variously estimated between the years 26 and 36 A.D.
Easter also refers to the season of the church year called Eastertide or the Easter Season. Traditionally the Easter Season lasted for the forty days from Easter Day until Ascension Day but now officially lasts for the fifty days until Pentecost. The first week of the Easter Season is known as Easter Week or the Octave of Easter. Easter also marks the end of Lent, a season of prayer and penance.
Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. Easter falls at some point between late March and late April each year (early April to early May in Eastern Christianity), following the cycle of the Moon. After several centuries of disagreement, all churches accepted the computation of the Alexandrian Church (now the Coptic Church) that Easter is the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first moon whose 14th day (the ecclesiastic "full moon") is on or after March 21 (the ecclesiastic "vernal equinox").
Easter is linked to the Jewish Passover not only for much of its symbolism but also for its position in the calendar. It is also linked to Spring Break, a secular school holiday (customarily a week long) celebrated at various times across North America, and characterized by road trips and bacchanalia.
Many cultural elements, such as the Easter Bunny, have become part of the holiday's modern celebrations, and those aspects are often celebrated by many Christians and non-Christians alike.
The Dates 2000-2022
|2000||April 23||April 30|
|2002||March 31||May 5|
|2003||April 20||April 27|
|2005||March 27||May 1|
|2006||April 16||April 23|
|2008||March 23||April 27|
|2009||April 12||April 19|
|2012||April 8||April 15|
|2013||March 31||May 5|
|2015||April 5||April 12|
|2016||March 27||May 1|
|2018||April 1||April 8|
|2019||April 21||April 28|
|2020||April 12||April 19|
|2021||April 4||May 2|
|2022||April 17||April 24|
The rule has since the Middle Ages been phrased as Easter is observed on the Sunday after the first full moon on or after the day of the vernal equinox. However, this does not reflect the actual ecclesiastical rules precisely. One reason for this is that the full moon involved (called the Paschal full moon) is not an astronomical full moon, but the 14th day of a calendar lunar month. Another difference is that the astronomical vernal equinox is a natural astronomical phenomenon, which can fall on March 20 or 21, while the ecclesiastical date is fixed by convention on March 21.
In applying the ecclesiastical rules, Christian Churches use March 21 as the starting point in determining the date of Easter, from which they find the next full moon, etc. In the case of Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, which continue to use the Julian calendar, their starting point in determining the date of Orthodox Easter is also March 21 according to the Julian reckoning, resulting in the divergence in the date of Easter in most years. (see table)
The actual calculations for the date of Easter are somewhat complicated, but can be described briefly as follows:
Easter is determined on the basis of lunisolar cycles. The lunar year consists of 30-day and 29-day lunar months, generally alternating, with an embolismic month added periodically to bring the lunar cycle into line with the solar cycle. In each solar year (January 1 to December 31), the lunar month beginning with an ecclesiastical new moon falling in the 29-day period from March 8 to April 5 inclusive is designated as the Paschal lunar month for that year. Easter is the 3rd Sunday in the Paschal lunar month, or, in other words, the Sunday after the Paschal lunar month's 14th day. The 14th of the Paschal lunar month is designated by convention as the Paschal full moon, although the 14th of the lunar month may differ from the date of the astronomical full moon by up to two days. Since the ecclesiastical new moon falls on a date from March 8 to April 5 inclusive, the Paschal full moon (the 14th of that lunar month) must fall on a date from March 21 to April 18 inclusive.
Accordingly, Gregorian Easter can fall on 35 possible dates - between March 22 and April 25 inclusive. It last fell on March 22 in 1818, and will not do so again until 2285. It fell on March 23 in 2008, but will not do so again until 2160. Easter last fell on the latest possible date, April 25, in 1943 and will next fall on that date in 2038. However, it will fall on April 24, just one day before this latest possible date, in 2011. The cycle of Easter dates repeats after exactly 5,700,000 years, with April 19 being the most common date, happening 220,400 times or 3.9%, compared to the median for all dates of 189,525 times or 3.3%.
To prevent any differences developing in the dating of Easter, the Catholic Church has compiled tables for Easter, which are based on the ecclesiastical rules described above. All affiliated churches celebrate Easter in accordance with these tables.