Why is this Spring term so short…

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…And who’s to blame!

Have you ever wondered when the Easter holidays will be, or moaned about the Spring term being so short because of when Easter falls? Well, I can tell you who’s to blame! Read on…

I’ll explain who’s to blame with four facts about the date of Easter:

1 The date for Easter is governed by the moon.

Easter is what’s known as a ‘movable feast’. This is because when it falls is governed by the moon. This was decided by the Council of Nicea in 325AD, organised by good old Emperor Constantine I.

Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the full moon after March 21st , the Spring Equinox.

(The Spring and Autumn Equinoxes are when the day and the night are (almost) equal length, equi = same, nox = night.)

This year, the first full moon after March 21st is March 25th, so Easter Sunday is on the next Sunday after that, which is 31st.

2 Easter was originally celebrated at Passover.

Originally it is believed Jesus’ followers celebrated his death on the first day of Passover (14th Nisan – see #3) and his resurrection two day later. However, the western church began to celebrate his resurrection on a Sunday, the day of the event, and eventually this led to the council of Nicea ratifying this change.

3 Easter dates are no longer connected to the dates for Passover.

Although the Gospel accounts make it likely that Jesus’ last supper was a Passover meal, Easter does not usually coincide with Passover.

That’s because Passover is celebrated each year on the 14th day of Nissan at the time of the full moon (Jewish months start with the new moon, so the 14th is the full moon.). Jewish months are completely independent of Gregorian calendar months, so Passover falls on different Gregorian dates each year, sometimes near Easter (as it was in 2023), sometimes weeks apart (as in 2024,, when Passover starts on Monday 22 April).

It is probable that the decision of the Council of Nicea to separate the date of Easter from Passover was part of a considered approach to separate Judaism and Christianity. This is not a simple matter, and has led to much persecution. It’s easy for Christians to say We’ll celebrate Jesus on Sunday when he rose, but let’s be careful not to turn our differences into antisemitism, including “The Jews killed Jesus” comments.

4 Not all Christians celebrate Easter on the same day.

Eastern Orthodox Christians, including Greek and Russian Orthodox Christians use a date for Easter using the older Julian calendar.  They use the same formula as the Western Church (Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the full moon after the Spring Equinox) but using the Julian calendar.

So whether you school breaks up on Good Friday, or if you’ll be half way through your holiday by then, here’s some fun facts for you to share with your children!

And if you’ve not yet got something planned for Easter, take a look at the Easter Week Sticker Calendar – a simple simple, fun but intentional way to explore the story together with stickers.