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What is a Paschal Full Moon?

What is a Paschal Full Moon?

The full Moon has many names — so many that it can be hard to keep track of them all. There are monthly full Moon names from English, Algonquin, and many other traditions. These include Strawberry Moon, Hunter’s Moon, Snow Moon, Pink Moon, Beaver Moon, and the like, and are listed in the Farmers’ Almanac and on our full Moon page.

Because the names come from different sources and cultures, each month’s full Moon may have half a dozen or more names. In 2010, Farmers’ Almanac readers even added their own favorite modern names to the names from antiquity.

Then there are the names with somewhat complicated rules, such as a Blue Moon or the Harvest Moon. The definition of a Blue Moon has changed over time, but today we use it to describe a second full Moon during a calendar month or the third of four full Moons in a single season. Most people think the Harvest Moon falls in September, and in many years, that’s true. Unlike the set monthly full Moon names, though, it can change from year to year. A Harvest Moon is technically the first full Moon after the autumnal equinox. Some years, it coincides with September’s full Moon, the Corn Moon, and other years it falls during October’s Hunter’s Moon.

What is a Paschal Full Moon?

Add to this list the Paschal Full Moon. Simply speaking, the Paschal Full Moon is the first full Moon after the Spring Equinox. Also called the Egg Moon, this Moon sometimes occurs in March and sometimes in April.

The word Paschal means “Passover” in Greek (a transliteration of the Hebrew word pesach). This Moon 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 April.

Just to make things more complicated, the date of the Paschal Full Moon may not always coincide with the actual full Moon. In fact, it can differ by as much as two days. That’s because, rather than being tied to an actual astronomical event, ecclesiastical authorities during the middle ages decided that the Paschal Full Moon would fall on the 14th day of the lunar month beginning after the Spring Equinox, known as Nissan in the Hebrew Calendar. That day roughly corresponds with the time of the full Moon, and the two overlap more often than not.

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  • TL says:

    It’s interesting that you note how “Easter” is chosen as it relates the the “Passover” moon. Hmmm. Would love that the definition is how it relates to Passover, hence it’s name. 🙂

  • Jerry Carman says:

    See if this makes it easier. Here is a Paschal Full Moon table for years 1900 thru 2199. Add 1 to the remainder obtained by dividing the year by 19, then apply the appropriate Paschal Full Moon date without regard to the actual full moon:
    1- Apr 14. 6-Apr 18. 11-Mar 25. 16-Mar 30
    2-Apr 3. 7-Apr 8. 12-Apr 13. 17-Apr 17
    3-Mar 23. 8-Mar 28 13-Apr 2 18-Apr. 7
    4-Apr 11. 9-Apr 16. 14-Mar 22 19-Mar 27
    5-Mar 31. 10-Apr 5. 15-Apr 10
    Easter is the Sunday following the applicable date. If this date is on a Sunday, Easter is the next Sunday. It should be pointed out that adjustments are needed for years before 1900 and after 2199.
    The earliest Easter can fall is March 22nd This has occurred 4 times in the Gregorian Calendar; 1598, 1693, 1761, and 1818. With this table in effect, the earliest Easter occurs in the 20th, 21st, and 22nd centuries is March 23rd, in 1913, 2008, and 2160. The next year Easter occurs on March 22nd is 2285.
    The latest is April 25th, which has also occurred in 4 Gregorian years, 1666, 1734, 1886, and 1943. The next year Easter occurs on April 25th is 2038, the next thereafter is 2190.

  • Gail says:

    what tme? Live in Western Washington.

  • Don says:

    You do this country a great service by explaining old time history.
    Thank you.

  • Sherry says:

    i found this very interesting, I didn’t know this about the full moon & Easter
    and most of the information you shared about the full moon, I enjoyed it.
    Thank you very much for sharing 🙂
    An avid reader, Sherry.

  • gp says:

    Very early Thurs. morn., I saw a bright orange red object in the sky low to the horizon. I’ve never seen anything like it-turns out it was the setting Paschal moon. Gorgeous!!! I wonder what makes the moon turn that color, anyone know? Germantown, Md.

  • veronica g. says:

    thank you for also answering my question jamie when you were answering harold’s

  • veronica g. says:

    i am confused so you are saying that easter can be moved to the end of april if the farmer’s alamac what’s it to be

    • Jaime McLeod says:

      Veronica, Not just because we want it to be, no. The date is set based on the Paschal full Moon, which is the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. It can come as early as March 22 or as late as April 25.

  • Harold R. Depew says:

    When I was growing up, we were taught that Easter each year would always be the
    first Sunday after the last full moon in March. What happened to this idea?
    Were we misled about this, or over time was it changed??? Hal

    • Jaime McLeod says:

      Hi Hal,
      No, it hasn’t changed, not since the Middle Ages, anyway. Sounds like someone gave you the wrong information as a kid. The full Moon in March could be as early as March 1, but Easter can’t fall before March 22, and can occur as late as April 25. This year marks the latest Easter since 1943.

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