The History and Date of Easter


What is the history of easter, easter eggs, and bunnies? When is easter, which day does easter is celebrated?

jesusThe history of Easter, as well as its theological and Iiturgical significance, is rooted in the Old Testament. In the Book of Exodus “Passover” refers not only to the Angel of Death “passing over” the houses of the Jews in Egypt but alsa to Israel’s deliverance from servitude-the exodus from Egypt and the entrance into the Promised Land, The Jewish Passover feast joined the theme of gratitude for divine deliverance with a spring harvest feast in which the first produce of the year was offered to God. Since Christ was crucified during Passover, the Christian commemoration of His death not only coincided with Passover, but also incorporated elements of the jewish feast. Thus Easter is the Christian Passover.

Passover, which was celebrated on the 14th day of Nisan in the jewish lunar calendar, could fall on any day of the week. Some early Christians, called Quartodecimans, observed Easter on the 14th Nisan. However, most Christians felt that Easter should always be observed on a Sunday, the weekly celebration of the Resurrection. The attempt to impose the Sunday observance on the Quartodecimans led to heated controversies in the 2d century. Eventually, it was decided at the Council of Nicaea (325) that Easter be observed on the Sunday after both the 14th Nisan and the vernal equinox.

While the date of Passover (and Easter) was calculated according to a fixed date in a lunar calendar, it had to be expressed as a variable date in the imperial or Julian solar calendar, which most Christians followed in daily life. It was obviously desirable to devise a long-range list of future dates according to a predetermined pattern or cycle in the solar calendar. Devising such a cycle proved extremely complicated for the methods then available. Various cycles (of 16, 19, 84, even of 532 years) were constructed in various places and resulted in further controversies, lasting until the 9th century, about the date of Easter. A further divergence in the date of Easter began in 1582 with the introduction of the Gregorian calendar, which some countries were slow in adopting.

Easter is now uniformly observed by Western churches; however, Easter may still fall on a different date in those Eastern churches that use a different method of oalculation. The proposal of a perpetnal calendar, in which each date falls on the same day of the week every year and in which Easter would fall on a fixed Sunday, presents no theological difficulty.

YearSpring FullMoonAstronomical EasterGregorian EasterJulian EasterJewish Passover
20018 April15 April15 April15 April8 April
200228 March31 March31 March05.May28 March
200316 April20 April20 April27 April17 April
20045 April11 April11 April11 April6 April
200525 March27 March27 March01.May24 April
200613 April16 April16 April23 April13 April
20072 April8 April8 April8 April3 April
200821 March23 March23 March27 April20 April
20099 April12 April12 April19 April9 April
201030 March4 April4 April4 April30 March
201118 April24 April24 April24 April19 April
20126 April8 April8 April15 April7 April
201327 March31 March31 March05.May26 March
201415 April20 April20 April20 April15 April
20154 April5 April5 April12 April4 April
201623 March27 March27 March01.May23 April
201711 April16 April16 April16 April11 April
201831 March1 April1 April8 April31 March
201921 March24 March21 April28 April20 April
20208 April12 April12 April19 April9 April
202128 March4 April4 April02.May28 March


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