Calculating Easter!

Ever wondered why Easter is when it is and why that ‘when’ keeps changing. Well it seems that the bible never actually recorded the exact date of when Christ was crucified and rose from the dead, beyond saying that the crucifixion was on a Friday and the resurrection on a Sunday. What is known is that the events occurred around the time of the Jewish Passover festival, which is a seven-day event. Passover starts on the first full Moon after the Spring Equinox. So it was an educated guess that the day of the resurrection was the Sunday during Passover. So this gives us the contorted formula that Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox. But even that wasn’t enough. Because observation data was not very accurate, especially in the early centuries of the first Millennium AD, opinion on when exactly the new Moon occurs was debatable. The Church decided at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. to have an official table drafted which gave the exact date and time of the full Moon. This Ecclesiastical full Moon is called the Paschal Full Moon. As time progressed, errors in the table led to a divergence between the time of the Paschal and the actual full Moon. The difference varies from year to year and can be significant and undeniable, but in true Ecclesiastic tradition, the ancient written word trumps real life experience. And so the full equation for calculating Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first Paschal full Moon after the Spring Equinox. As a result, Easter dates can range from March 22 through April 25 in Western Christianity. – Now how all this became associated with a rabbit that distributes chocolate eggs, is a whole other story…It’s a funny old life!

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