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Why Does Easter Fall On Different Dates?

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Why Does Easter Fall On Different Dates?

Here’s a pop quiz: What date does Christmas fall on every year? Valentine’s Day? St. Patrick’s Day? Halloween? What about Easter?

If you were on a roll until that last question, you’re not alone, and it’s not your fault. You probably already know that Easter falls on a different date every year. But why?

Easter and the many church holidays related to it — such as Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Good Friday — are called “moveable feasts,” because they do not fall on a fixed date on the Gregorian calendar, which follows the cycle of the sun and the seasons. Instead, these days follow a lunisolar calendar, similar to Jewish holidays.

According to a Fourth Century ruling, the date of Easter is set for on the first Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first Full Moon of Spring, occurring on or shortly after the Vernal Equinox. March 22 is the earliest Easter can occur on any given year, and April 25 is the latest.

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Some churches, primarily Eastern Orthodox Churches, use the older Julian calendar for holidays. Easter sometimes falls on different dates, according to that calendar.

Here’s a look at some of the dates of Easter, past and present:

2010    April 4
2011    April 24
2012    April 8
2013    March 31
2014    April 20
2015    April 5
2016    March 27
2017    April 16
2018   April 1
2019   April 21
2020   April 12
2021   April 4

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1 comment

1 What is a Paschal Full Moon? – redlegagenda { 03.22.16 at 11:24 pm }

[…] is significant because it is used to determine what date Easter will fall on each year. This is why Easter is a movable holiday, occurring anywhere from late March to late […]

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