Who Decided ‘When Is Easter’?
When I was a kid, the two biggest holidays were Christmas and Easter. Christmas? Well, that was easy to remember. December 25, each and every year, no matter what. But Easter? Sometimes it’s in March and other times in April. But who decides? And whoever it is who makes the decision (my Mother told me it was the week before the Pope took his vacation), why do they keep moving it around?
So, I looked it up and here’s what I found out.
First of all, despite what my Mom said, it’s not the Pope. And that’s too bad, because at least I could understand that. Ready? Here’s the answer: Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs on or after the vernal equinox. Wow! No wonder my Mom made up that story!
Hey! Don’t give up on me yet! I think I can explain it to you! Let’s take a look at each of those things a little closer and get into some history.
First of all, the vernal equinox – one of two days of the year when the earth when day and night are the same length – is the first day of spring, usually March 20th or 21st. And we all know what a full moon is. So, the next question is, why was this time chosen?
Well, the Bible says that Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection happened around the time of the Jewish Passover, celebrated on the first full moon after the vernal equinox. Some early Christians celebrated Easter directly on Passover, while others waited for the following Sunday.
But in 325 A.D., the Roman Emperor Constantine (who’d converted to Christianity) sought to unify the date, choosing the Sunday after the full moon.
Easy, right? First Sunday, first full moon, vernal equinox and that guy Connie. How easy is that to explain to your kids? On second thought, go with my Mother’s story; her’s is soooo much easier.