who decides on what date does easter fall on NOOKS AND CRANNIES
who decides on what date does easter fall on
george line, newport s wales
Pope Gregory XIII. Or at least, the calendar to which he gave his name. Easter is an annual festival observed throughout the Christian world. The date for Easter shifts every year within the Gregorian Calendar. The Gregorian Calendar is the standard international calendar for civil use. In addition, it regulates the ceremonial cycle of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. The current Gregorian ecclesiastical rules that determine the date of Easter trace back to 325 CE at the First Council of Nicaea convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine. At that time the Roman world used the Julian Calendar (put in place by Julius Caesar). The Council decided to keep Easter on a Sunday, the same Sunday throughout the world. To fix incontrovertibly the date for Easter, and to make it determinable indefinitely in advance, the Council constructed special tables to compute the date. These tables were revised in the following few centuries resulting eventually in the tables constructed by the 6th century Abbot of Scythia, Dionysis Exiguus. Nonetheless, different means of calculations continued in use throughout the Christian world. Universal adoption of this Gregorian calendar occurred slowly. By the 1700’s, though, most of western Europe had adopted the Gregorian Calendar. The Eastern Christian churches still determine the Easter dates using the older Julian Calendar method. The usual statement, that Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs next after the vernal equinox, is not a precise statement of the actual ecclesiastical rules. The full moon involved is not the astronomical Full Moon but an ecclesiastical moon (determined from tables) that keeps, more or less, in step with the astronomical Moon. The ecclesiastical rules are: Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox; this particular ecclesiastical full moon is the 14th day of a tabular lunation (new moon); and the vernal equinox is fixed as March 21. resulting in that Easter can never occur before March 22 or later than April 25. The Gregorian dates for the ecclesiastical full moon come from the Gregorian tables. Therefore, the civil date of Easter depends upon which tables – Gregorian or pre-Gregorian – are used. The western (Roman Catholic and Protestent) Christian churches use the Gregorian tables; many eastern (Orthodox) Christian churches use the older tables based on the Julian Calendar. There are some anomalies in certain years, but generally it works as outlined.
Ray Parnell, Lincoln UK
The date of Easter is dependent on the date of the Jewish festival of Passover, the Bible says that Jesus was crucified x number of days after Passover (which has a floating date). Because the year of the crucifixion isn’t known it isn’t possible to establish a specific date for the resurrection so Easter happens x amount of days after passover. Easter takes place on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21st
The date of easter in the western churches falls on the first sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. This has been the way since the middle ages. The eastern churches follow something of the same method but as they follwed the julian rather than the gregorian calender for much longer the dates are allways offset by a week or two. Heres the kicker though. The Catholic church does not allow either astronomy or astrology. Funny that really.
richard, dublin Ireland
The date of Easter is determined from astronomical phenomena, using a system that was decided by the early Christian Church, after much wrangling. The problems arose from the fact that the Christians followed the Roman calendar, which is based on the solar year, but Easter is intimately connected with the Jewish festival of Passover (the Last Supper was in fact a Passover Seder)and the Jewish calendar is based in the lunar month. The Seder happens on the fourteenth night of the moon of Nisan, and can fall on any day of the week, but it so happened that in the year of the Crucifixion it fell just before a Sabbath, and while some early Christians followed the Jewish calendar and celebrated Easter on the fourteenth of Nisan whatever day it fell on, others felt that it should be celebrated on the nearest Sabbath (whichever day they were using as the Sabbath, which is another story). The former (Quartodecimans) were eventually declared heretical and the Council of Nicea in 325 standardised Easter Sunday as the first Sunday after the first fourteenth-of-the-moon after the vernal equinox. However even this did not immediately produce standard practice as there were differences of interpretation (e.g. over whether you count a fourteenth that falls exactly on the equinox, or wait for the next one) and different communities of Christians were reluctant to abandon their local traditions. In the British Isles, the Welsh and Irish churches stuck for a long time to their own tradition, which predated the English invasions, and this caused problems when the English kingdoms were evangelised both from Iona (Irish Easter) in the North and Canterbury (Roman Easter) in the south. Matters came to a head in Northumbria in the 660s, when the King was observing Easter at a different time from his Kentish wife, and after the Synod of Whitby in 664 the English kingdoms followed the Roman Easter, though the Celtic Chruch continued in their own tradition for somewhat longer. The Catholic Encyclopedia and the Venerable Bede’s “Ecclesiastical History of the English People”, both available online (see Google) give much, much more detail…
Jude, Aberdeen UK
Take a look at the Book of Common Prayer (BCP)(C of E). There you can find the method for determining on what day Easter falls, it involves a wondeful thing called The Golden Number or Prime, which must be calculated for the year in question and is one of the most entertaining parts of the Church’s writings. I would recommend that everyone of any persuasion read this part of the BCP, and it is a good argument for re-naming Easter, “The bank holiday that’s usually in April but not always”.
Matthew Payne, Hampton
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