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When is Easter Sunday 2018? What is the meaning behind it and why we celebrate it with chocolate eggs?

Why does the date for Easter Sunday change every year according to the lunar calendar? We've got all the answers to your questions!!! 

It is that time of year when chocolate eggs and bunnies cover supermarket shelves and many people's thoughts turn to the religious story behind Easter. For many, the first bank holiday weekend of the year - with four straight days off work!!! - will have a particular appeal. Perhaps you're planning a break with the family or a weekend visiting friends. Or maybe you're just looking forward to spending a long weekend relaxing at home. Or maybe you are wondering where Easter comes from and what happened during the Holy Week - Good Friday to Easter - to make us celebrate it.

So why does the date for Easter change every year? 

Easter is a Christian feast day - these are important days in the life of Jesus Christ or the saints. Unlike most days in the Christian calendar, Easter does not have a fixed date in the Gregorian or Julian calendars, which follow the cycle of the sun. Easter instead is determined by the lunar calendar, which is based on the phases of the moon. Easter is scheduled to fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring Equinox at around March 20th. The Spring, or March, Vernal Equinox is the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north. So, in Western Christianity, Easter will always fall between March 22nd and April 25th. 

Who decided when Easter is? 

A council of Christian bishops was assembled by Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325. This was called was the First Council of Nicea, which was Christianity's first effort to get a consensus on what the church taught. It was decided at this council that Easter Day should fall on the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, and that it should always fall on a Sunday to represent the day of Christ's Resurrection.

What's it all about really? 

Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion, which is remembered on Good Friday. Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead three days after. The three days are known by the Church as the Easter Triduum. The Easter season begins on Ash Wednesday - the first day of Lent, which lasts 40 days - which do not count the six Sundays in between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. It is a time when Christians fast, or give up a particular food or vice. The fasting period is to remember when Jesus went into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days despite being tempted. 

What's that got to do with chocolate eggs? 

Eggs are often associated with Easter because they are a symbol of new life and fertility. Early Christians adopted them as a symbol of New Life, as it helped them remember Jesus' resurrection. They can also be seen to represent Spring and celebrate rebirth after the harshness of winter. This is why we see lots of chicks, lambs and other cute animals - they remind us of the continuation of life. Commercially it's a massive deal - retailers and manufacturers love to get in on the holiday and persuade us to part with our cash by buying Easter eggs, cards and anything depicting bunnies. They can't be blamed for all of it though. Eggs were used by Persians and Egyptians to celebrate New Year, which for them was in the Springtime. They would dye and paint the eggs and then eat them. In Europe, the painted eggs were used as house decoration. In Eastern European countries they're painted with patterns, which often hold meaning and tell the story of Easter. 

But could that change? 

Campaigners want the next Government to help parents, schools and businesses plan their holidays by fixing the date of Easter. Ministers may be asked to ensure it always falls between April 9 and 15. Also, lobby groups claim that the move would boost the economy. In a letter to David Cameron, Keith Porteous Wood, of the National Secular Society, said: “The variation of the date of Easter causes significant and unnecessary inconvenience.”

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About Peartree Languages

Peartree Languages is a language school located in Cardiff.


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