How is the date for Easter determined each year?

Unlike most holidays that fall on the same date every year, determining Easter Sunday takes some mathematical calculations.

The varied dates from year to year can leave many wondering why Easter changes dates, ranging from late March 22 and April 25.

Easter always occurs on the first Sunday after the Full Moon that falls on or after March 21. The Paschal full Moon is the first full Moon after the spring equinox.

According to the Bible, Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection occurred at the time of the Jewish Passover, which was celebrated on the first Full Moon following the vernal equinox. According to the Farmers Almanac, the vernal equinox marks the turning point when daylight begins to win out over darkness. Regardless of what the weather is doing outside, the equinox marks the official start of the spring season.

Traditionally, we celebrate the first day of spring on March 21, but astronomers and calendar manufacturers alike now say that the spring season starts on March 20, in all time zones in North America. In 2020, spring fell on March 19 – the earliest first day of spring in 124 years!

Not all Christians observe Easter according to the Gregorian calendar; most Orthodox Christians still follow the Julian calendar.

Like the Easter date based on the Gregorian calendar, Orthodox Easter falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25 in the Julian calendar. In the Gregorian calendar, this corresponds to April 3 to May 10.

In some years, Orthodox Easter falls on the same day as western Easter. The next time the two Easter dates coincide will be in 2025, on April 20.

Several churches and nations have proposed various reforms to the manner in which the date of Easter is determined, but so far, none of these reforms have been put into practice.

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