When is Easter This Year?

This year Easter comes earlier than usual on March 31.  It’s not always easy to keep track of the Easter date. After all, unlike Christmas, the date changes every year. Of course, this also means that the beginning of Lent and Ash Wednesday change dates too.  The varied dates from year to year can leave many people wondering why Easter changes dates like Thanksgiving instead of remaining the same like other set-in-stone holidays such as Christmas. Most Christians know Ash Wednesday’s date depends on Easter, but wouldn’t it be much simpler (and easier to remember) if Jesus Christ’s resurrection were celebrated on a set day?

Why does Easter change every year?  The early church grappled with how Easter is determined, and the processes for scheduling the holiday weren’t fully set in stone until the 16th century. On top of that, the dates used by Western churches are different from Eastern churches.  In the early days of Christianity, different groups of Christians celebrated Easter on different dates. Early Eastern Christians in what is now Turkey observed Jesus’ crucifixion on the first day of the Jewish Passover, which happens on the first full moon of Spring.

Early Western Christians (Rome) observed the resurrection on the first day of the week following Passover — Easter Sunday.  All the other Easter dates, including Palm Sunday are based on Easter’s changing date.

From the second century onwards, the calculation of the date of Easter was a controversy in the early church.  Although the Council of Nicaea in 325 attempted to resolve this, the matter proved controversial for centuries.  The Council of Nicaea wanted to move how Easter is calculated away from the Jewish calendar, which was by that time seen as a relic from a different religion.  Their solution was to tie its calculation to the vernal or spring equinox.  Easter Sunday should be observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox — which now means Easter falls on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25.

But guess what?  The Eastern Church uses the Julian calendar introduced by Julius Caesar, and the Western Church uses the Gregorian calendar introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.  The result is that different dates for Easter are observed in different parts of the world, despite all of the efforts to standardize them.

All of that aside, thankfully we can ALL agree on the reason for the holiest day of the year!  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Our Savior Jesus then resurrected from the dead and proved to the world that He was who He said He was!  Hosanna to our King!  Happy Easter!

It Is so good to be your pastor!

In The Lord’s service till the last fish is caught, <><

Pastor Chris

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