Easter is approaching! The pancakes were all flipped a few weeks ago on Shrove Tuesday, the sun is starting to warm up, and blossom is just starting to poke through the hedges.
Here at Cafe Reality we had the discussion and there were only one or two of us that actually knew why the date changes every year. We are good at what we do, supplying pub and bar furniture, cafe tables and chairs or visualising space using the latest in 3d technology but the majority of us didn't know why Easter changes date each year and we really should have!
So, if you're sat reading this on your lunch break and wondering when exactly is Easter, and how is the date decided, you're not alone. We know that Easter changes every year, but like us, most people aren't sure why.
Many popular seasonal celebrations are easy to keep track of: Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Halloween, for example, all fall on the same date each year, but Easter can come anytime between late March and late April.
Bringing with it two bank holidays either side of a weekend, it can be very useful to pay attention to Easter dates: careful annual leave allocation can mean you get more holiday per days of annual leave taken. If you want to avoid going away during school holidays, it’s also important to pay attention to when Easter will fall.
In 2018, Maundy Thursday falls on 29th March, so the first bank holiday is Good Friday, on 30th March. Easter Sunday is on 1st April, and the Easter Monday bank holiday will be on 2nd April.
The reason for the changing date is because the festival is scheduled based on the lunar calendar. Jesus died around Jewish Passover, which is held on the first full moon after the spring equinox.
Since the full moon varies from time zone to time zone, the Christian church decided to calculate from the fourteenth day of the lunar month and hold Easter Day on the Sunday afterwards.
The Bible notes that Jesus died the day before the Sabbath (a Saturday), so Good Friday - which marks the day of his death by crucifixion - is always held on a Friday, and Easter Sunday - which marks his rising from the tomb on the third day afterwards - is always a Sunday. A council of bishops in 325 A.D. decided that these days of the week would be the ones commemorated in the Christian calendar.
To complicate matters further, not all churches use the same calendar! In the UK, the US and many other Western countries, Easter is celebrated according to the Gregorian calendar. This date system is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in the late 16th century in order to correct the older (Julian) calendar, which had gradually drifted away from the equinoxes and solstices due to the frequency of leap years. Many Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches, however, use the revised Julian calendar, which modified the original Julian calendar differently.
In short, not only do the Easter dates change every year, but the holiday is celebrated across the world on different dates!