Easter Break. So what determines the date for Easter?

I thought I might want to share this page I read through an update on APESMA


8 April 2010
APESMA trusts you had an enjoyable and safe Easter break. You may often have wondered why the date for Easter isn’t always the same year on year.

Determining the date on which Easter falls is complex, to say the least. The simple version of the explanation is thus; the Western churches (Catholic and Protestant) celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the equinox in March (Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere, Autumn Equinox in the southern hemisphere).

The equinox is agreed to be 21 March, but the “full moon” is actually the “paschal” moon, which is based on 84-year “paschal cycles” established in the sixth century, and rarely corresponds to the astronomical full moon. These calculations can put Easter anywhere between 22 March and 25 April.

The Eastern churches (Greek, Russian, and other forms of Orthodoxy) use the same calculations, but base them on the Julian calendar (putting the equinox on 3 April instead of 21 March), and they use a 19-year paschal cycle.

Thus the Orthodox Easter sometimes falls on the same day as the Western Easter (it does in 2010 and will again in 2011), but the two celebrations can be up to five weeks apart.

Confusing to say the least eh?
To end of this post, I think its great to see how the date of the Easter weekend is worked out. However like all dates, the importance is about the event, not the date.
As Christian’s we celebrate Jesus Christ’s death on ‘Good Friday’ and his resurrection from death on ‘Easter Sunday’. Contrary to news to the Friday edition of Australian Newspapers, Good Friday is not the more important date in the Christian calender, but rather Easter Sunday.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

~ by chanmanonmission on April 11, 2010.

One Response to “Easter Break. So what determines the date for Easter?”

  1. The western churches use a 19-year cycle, and have for centuries. Eighty-four year cycles haven’t been used anywhere in western Christianity since sometime prior to A.D. 900.

    The Gregorian ecclesiastical full moon, at the longitudes of western Europe, is usually within a day of the astronomical full moon. The Julian EFM, used by the eastern churches, is 4 (sometimes 5) days behind the Gregorian, so it tends to be about 3-to-5 days behind the astronomical full moon.

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