Merry Christmas from the Rudland family


Have you ever wondered why Easter is not a fixed date like Christmas ? The reasons take us back to the beginnings of Christianity. the problem is that, unlike Christmas, the events of Easter are precisely identified in the Gospel as taking place at the time of the Jewish festival of Pesach (Passover), but the Hebrew calendar depends of the phases of the moon. Quite why all the earliest calendars were lunar isn’t clear.

The first problem is that Passover is thus governed by the moon. The second is that, although St John’s gospel is specific about the day of the Crucification (Friday), it is not clear on which day the Resurrection took place. Some thought that it should fall on the 14th day of the Jewish month Nisan, but the Roman Church celebrated the Sunday following.

It was not until the Council of Nicea in AD 325 that any real progress was made. What seems to have been agreed that, to distance Christianity from Jewish practice, Easter day was to fall on the Sunday after the Paschal full moon. This is not the real moon, but a notional, ecclesiastical moon, invented to allow the Church’s calculations for Easter.

So, what is the snappy answer ? Try this:

Easter is the Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon after 20th March.

If you are sufficiently interested and want the actual maths, leave a comment on the website.

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