You may well be wondering, why is Easter so late this year? After the jump, an excerpt and a link to an interesting article about how the date for Easter is calculated. It also demonstrates once again the antiquity of the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, its ties to the Jewish passover, and its lack of connection to any pagan festivals.
This year Easter Sunday will fall on the 20th of April, but the Christian holiday can come anywhere between the 22nd of March and the 25th of April – why is it so changeable?
The answer is all to do with the close historical and theological ties between Christianity and Judaism. It’s worth remembering also that Jesus and all of his apostles were Jewish, and that it was not until the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD that a doctrine that we now recognize as definitively ‘Christian’ was established.
It was also during this meeting in the third century that the Church fathers settled the date of Easter, the festival that celebrates the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion. They decreed that it should fall on the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, an ecumenical full moon (aka, not always based on astronomy) that is the first after the March equinox (usually 20 March, but according to the Church it’s 21 March).
This decision was made to ensure sure that Easter would always be celebrated after the Jewish festival of Passover, because although biblical calendars are never the most rigorous, it’s clear that the death, birth and resurrection of Jesus all happened after this feast.
Passover is a Jewish festival celebrating the freeing of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and it’s often thought that the Last Supper– the final meal Jesus took with the apostles – was a Passover Seder.