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Why is Easter a moveable feast? How to calculate its date?

pisanki jajka wielkanocne kolorowe z gipsówką

Tomasz Woźniak |

Easter is the most important Christian holiday commemorating the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The date of Easter is not fixed and changes every year, which raises the question: why is Easter movable?

Why is Easter a moveable feast?

Easter eggs lying next to an Easter basket that is decorated with ribbons Are you wondering why Easter is a moveable feast? Well, the key lies in the unusual combination of the lunar calendar and astronomical observations. Here are some facts to help you understand this puzzle:

  • First full moon after the spring equinox : Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. This means that the date of Easter may fall between March 22 and April 25.
  • Lunar vs. solar calendar : The difference between the lunar and solar calendars is the reason for the variability of the date of Easter. The lunar calendar, which is the basis for the calculations, is not in perfect synchronization with the solar year, leading to differences in dating.
  • Historical and astronomical significance : The decision to celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the full moon following the spring equinox was made at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. It was intended to unify the date of the holiday among various Christian communities. Interestingly, this method combines both astronomical observations and the tradition associated with the Jewish calendar, because the Jewish Passover is also celebrated based on lunar cycles.

The importance of Easter in the Christian tradition

For many, Easter is a moment of deep reflection and joy, constituting the essence of the Christian faith. The celebration of this day has deep roots in both Jewish and pagan traditions, which were transformed and given new meanings by the Church.

  • Easter traditions :

    1. Going to church and participating in processions - believers around the world gather to celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
    2. Decorating eggs - a symbol of new life and rebirth, reflecting the resurrection of Jesus.
    3. Family meetings - Easter is a time when families gather for a common meal, often consisting of traditional dishes such as ham, sausages or Easter bread, especially in Poland.
  • Easter symbolism :

    • The victory of life over death - Christ's resurrection is a symbol of hope and salvation, overcoming darkness through light, hatred through love.
    • An opportunity to reflect and strengthen faith - Easter encourages reflection on one's own values ​​and faith.
  • Roots and adaptations :

    • Pagan and Jewish traditions - Easter draws on many traditions, including painting eggs and making noise with knockers, which have their roots in pagan spring rituals, later transformed by the Church into Christian customs.
    • Decision on the date of Easter - the choice of the Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox as the day to celebrate Easter is intended to emphasize the connection with the Jewish Passover and the importance of resurrection.

Jewish tradition and the first spring full moon

eggs on a plate next to it are colorful tulips with a ribbon and cookies in the shape of a bunny and a butterfly Jewish tradition Pesach, also known as the Jewish Passover or Jewish Easter, is the most important and oldest Jewish holiday, commemorating the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. This festival is celebrated after the first full moon of spring, usually in March or April, and lasts seven or eight days. It begins with a gala dinner called the Seder, during which the Haggadah is read - an illustrated book telling the story of the Exodus and the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt.

  • The main course of the Seder dinner : Matzah, or unleavened bread, symbolizing the haste with which the Israelites left Egypt.
  • Ban on chametz : During Passover, the consumption of leavened products is prohibited to commemorate the quick exodus from Egypt, when there was no time for the bread to rise.

Understanding how Passover connects with the first full moon of spring allows us to better understand why Easter is celebrated at a specific time, combining Jewish and Christian traditions and highlighting the astronomical significance of these holidays.

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