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Last updated 1st April 2018

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                                     April 2018

Dear Friends,

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 Jewish Passover,  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 Churches.

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!