This year, the day of Easter Sunday is April 8, 2012. Have you ever wondered why the dates of Easter do the bunny hop every year? It can actually fall anywhere between March 22nd and April 25th!
2012 Easter calendar:
- April 1, 2012: Palm Sunday
- April 6, 2012: Good Friday
- April 8, 212: Easter Sunday
So why do the dates of Easter Sunday change every year? There is an quick and easy answer as well a more in depth explanation; let’s start with the quick and easy.
Why does Easter Sunday date change? Quick and easy answer:
The early church fathers wished to keep the observance of Easter in correlation to the Jewish Passover. Because the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ happened after the Passover, they wanted Easter to always be celebrated subsequent to the Passover. And, since the Jewish holiday calendar is based on solar and lunar cycles, each feast day is movable, with dates shifting from year to year. From here, the explanation grows more complicated.
Why does Easter Sunday date change? In depth answer:
Today in Western Christianity, Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon date of the year. It has been previously, and somewhat erroneously stated, “Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the first full moon after the vernal (spring) equinox.” This statement was true prior to 325 A.D.; however, over the course of history (beginning in 325 A.D. with the Council of Nicea), the Western Church decided to established a more standardized system for determining the date of Easter.
In actuality, the date of the Paschal Full Moon is determined from historical tables, and has no correspondence to lunar events. As astronomers were able to approximate the dates of all the full moons in future years, the Western Christian Church used these calculations to establish a table of Ecclesiastical Full Moon dates. These dates would determine the Holy Days on the Ecclesiastical calendar.
Though modified slightly from its original form, by 1583 A.D. the table for determining the Ecclesiastical Full Moon dates was permanently established and has been used ever since to determine the date of Easter. Thus, according to the Ecclesiastical tables, the Paschal Full Moon is the first Ecclesiastical Full Moon date after March 20 (which happened to be the vernal equinox date in 325 A.D.). So, in Western Christianity, Easter is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon.
The Paschal Full Moon can vary as much as two days from the date of the actual full moon, with dates ranging from March 21 to April 18. As a result, Easter dates can range from March 22 through April 25 in Western Christianity.
Similarly to understanding Leap Year, the Easter Sunday hop can be confusing as well. To save you from what may be painful calculations, here are the Easter Dates for 2012 – 2016:
- 2012: April 8
- 2013: March 31
- 2014: April 20
- 2015: April 5
- 2016: March 27
© 2012 Amy Bittinger Kunkle, All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permissions from the author or Clarity Digital Group LLC d/b/a nextooze.com
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