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LETTER FROM THE CLERGY
Unlike Christmas, Easter, the other major
Christian festival, does not have a fixed date.
In recent years, there have been discussions on whether to fix the date
of Easter Day. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury was reported a couple of
years ago to be in favour of bringing in a fixed Easter Sunday.
A fixed date for Easter would have enormous
implications for seasonal-dependent industries and for schools.
Easter Sunday is the day that the Church
celebrates Jesus’ Resurrection. Early
Christians had probably originally celebrated Easter concurrently with the
which was held on the fourteenth
day of the first lunar month of the Jewish year, called Nisan, the
day of the crucifixion according to John
19:14. However, the First Council of Nicaea in 325 decreed that
Christians should no longer use the Jewish calendar but universally adopt the
practice of celebrating it on a Sunday, the day of the resurrection, as had
come to be the custom in Rome and Alexandria.
Calculating the proper date (computus)
was a complex process involving a lunisolar calendar, and different calculation
tables developed which resulted in different dates for the celebration of
Easter. Hence the Orthodox Easter Day is different from that of the western
However, the calculation of Easter Sunday is
still related to the Jewish Passover.
Accordingly, the Paschal full moon is the first full moon occurring on
or after the spring equinox. However, this day can be reckoned in different
ways. One way is by looking at the sky, which yields the astronomical spring
equinox. But since this shifts from year to year, most people follow the calendrical spring
equinox, which is reckoned as March 21st.
On the Gregorian calendar (the one that we
use), Easter is the first Sunday after
the Paschal full moon, which is the first full moon on or after
March 21. Easter thus always falls between March 22 and April 25. In England, it was not until 662 at the Synod
of Whitby that the Church adopted the Roman calendar of Easter. Otherwise we
might still be celebrating Easter on a different date from the rest of the western churches.
Whatever the date on which it is celebrated,
we believe that Easter celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus. Christ is risen
from death. In Christ, there is life forever! He is risen indeed!