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Working Out the Date of Easter Day

Because the Church calendar follows the moon, Easter Day can be on any Sunday between March 22nd and April 25th!

In 2008, Easter is about as early as it can be! Easter could only be on one day earlier! And 2008 is probably the earliest Easter anyone reading this page will see in the rest of their lives! You'll have only had an early Easter if you're over 95 years old (it happened in 1913)! And no one have ever, or will, see it any earlier!

The next time Easter will be as early as in 2008 (March 23rd) will be in the year 2228, so in 220 years time!

The next time it will be on March 22nd (as early as it can be), will be in the year 2285 (in 277 years time). Easter last occurred on March 22nd in 1818!

For Catholics and Western Christians, Easter Sunday is on the first Sunday after a full moon following the spring equinox! If the full moon is on a Sunday, Easter Day is on the next Sunday. This sounds very complicated and it is! Medieval priests had a really tricky time working out exactly when they should celebrate Easter Day!

To make things slightly easier, the date is now worked out from an 'official' spring equinox. (There are two equinox's a year, one in spring and one in autumn. These are when the day and night are of the same length.) The 'official' spring equinox is always on March 21st, although the real equinox might be a day or two different!

Several methods have been used since the early Christian times to work out the date of Easter Day. It was made more complicated in 1582 when Pope Gregory XII replaced the old Roman 'Julian' calendar (started by Julius Caeser) with a new more accurate 'Gregorian' calendar, which most people still use today. This was when the 'official' spring equinox was made March 21st.

Working out the date of Easter Day is extremely tricky and you need to be pretty good at Maths to do it! There are still several version of how to calculate the date. Below is a version with all the complicated maths already done, so all you have to do is:

Take the number of the year and add one:
Divide the total by 19:
To find the whole number remainder (105 for 2008), first multiply the main part of the answer by 19:
Then subtract the result from Step 3 from the result from Step 1:
Look up the remainder in the following table (14 for 2008!).
Easter is on the first Sunday after the date in the table.
In 2008 Easter is on March 23rd, so it works!
Remainder Date Remainder Date Remainder Date
0 March 27 7 April 8 14 March 22
1 April 14 8 March 28 15 April 10
2 April 3 9 April 16 16 March 30
3 March 23 10 April 5 17 April 17
4 April 11 11 March 25 18 April 7
5 March 31 12 April 13
6 April 18 13 April 2

This method works for Catholic and Western Christians. But some Orthodox churches, still calculate Easter Day by the old Julian Calendar that doesn't have the 'official' spring equinox. This means that the Day they celebrate Easter Day on is often slighty different than the day Catholic and Western Christians celebrate Easter Day!

From: whyeaster.com

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