19 February 2008

For the rest of your life!

This year Easter will come on March 23rd which is earlier than usual. Since Easter is tied to the Jewish lunar calendar it falls on a different date of our Gregorian calendar every year. Easter always falls on the first Sunday following the full Moon (the Paschal Full Moon) either on or after the Spring Equinox (March 20 or 21). If the Full Moon falls on a Sunday then Easter is the next Sunday. In Western Christianity, Easter always falls on a Sunday from March 22 to April 25 inclusive. This year is the earliest Easter any of us will ever see for the rest of our lives and only people who are 95 years old have ever seen it this early. The last time it was this early was 1913, so if you're 95 or older you were around for that one. Only five times in the past 300 years has Easter fallen on March 23 -- 1704, 1788, 1845, 1856 and 1913. The next time Easter will be this early (March 23) will be the year 2160 which is 152 years from now. After 2160, the next March 23 observance will be 2228. The next time that it will be on the earliest possible date, March 22, will be in the year 2285 or in other words, 277 years from now. The last time it was on March 22 was 1818. So, no one alive today has or will ever see it any earlier than this year. Easter last fell on the latest possible date, April 25, in 1943 and will next fall on that date in 2038. However, it will fall on April 24, just one day before this latest possible date, in 2011.

Prior to A.D. 325, Easter was variously celebrated on different days of the week, including Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Since Christ, the true Paschal Lamb, had been slain on the very day when the Jews, in celebration of their Passover, killed a lamb, the Jewish Christians in the East followed the Jewish method, and commemorated the death of Christ on the 15th of Nisan in the Jewish lunar calendar and His Resurrection on the 17th of Nisan, no matter on what day of the week they fell. For this observance they claimed the authority of Saint John and Saint Philip. However, in the rest of the Roman empire another consideration predominated. Every Sunday of the year was a commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ, which had occurred on a Sunday. Because the Sunday after 14 Nisan was the historical day of the Resurrection, in Rome this Sunday became the Christian feast of Easter. Easter was celebrated in Rome and Alexandria on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, and the Roman Church claimed for this observance the authority of Saints Peter and Paul.

Complicated? The Easter date has always been a controversial subject because of the vagaries of the lunar calendar. Many people take a mini vacation during this period and the changing dates of Easter drives the travel industry nuts. No problem for me. I think people ought to stay home and go to church, especially if they claim to be Christians. Anyway, here is what the Easter schedule looks like for the next ten years:

23 March 2008

12 April 2009

4 April 2010

24 April 2011

8 April 2012

31 March 2013

20 April 2014

5 April 2015

27 March 2016

16 April 2017

1 April 2018

21 April 2019

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.