Why the date of Easter changes every year
Easter is an important Christian holiday that commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
While Christmas Day, which celebrates his birth, is fixed on 25 December, the date of Good Friday (when Jesus is said to have died) and Easter Sunday (when he is said to have been resurrected) are movable feasts.
This means that the date changes every year, with the Easter holiday falling sometime in March or April.
Here’s why the date changes, and when Easter 2021 will fall.
Why does the date of Easter change?
The Bible says that Jesus’ death and resurrection occurred around the time of Passover – the Jewish holiday that remembers how God sent ten plagues to Egypt to compel the Pharoah to release his Jewish slaves.
The date of Passover is determined by the Hebrew calendar – it begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan, which typically falls in March or April.
At the end of the 2nd century, Christians were celebrating Easter on different dates. Some were celebrating it on the first day of Passover, while others were celebrating it a few weeks later.
In 325 AD the Council of Nicaea decided to establish rules for the date of Easter, independent of the Jewish calendar, so that all Christians would celebrate at the same time.
It was decided that Easter Sunday would fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs after (or on) the 21 March – the vernal equinox.
If that full moon occurs on a Sunday, then Easter is held a week later.
When is Easter 2021?
Easter 2021 will fall a week earlier than Easter 2021.
Easter Sunday will be on 4 April and Good Friday will be on 2 April.
The latest Easter Sunday has ever been was in 1943, when it fell on 25 April. That won’t happen again until 2038.
The earliest possible date for Easter Sunday is 22 March. The last time we had an Easter that early was 1818, and there won’t be another one until 2285.
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