Easter dating history
Easter is an annual festival observed throughout the Christian world. The date for Easter shifts every year within the Gregorian Calendar. The Gregorian Calendar is the standard international calendar for civil use. In addition, it regulates the ceremonial cycle of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. The Council decided to keep Easter on a Sunday, the same Sunday throughout the world. To fix incontrovertibly the date for Easter, and to make it determinable indefinitely in advance, the Council constructed special tables to compute the date.
These tables were revised in the following few centuries resulting eventually in the tables constructed by the 6th century Abbot of Scythia, Dionysis Exiguus. Nonetheless, different means of calculations continued in use throughout the Christian world. One major difference between the Julian and Gregorian Calendar is the "leap year rule". See below for a description of the difference.
Universal adoption of this Gregorian calendar occurred slowly. By the 's, though, most of western Europe had adopted the Gregorian Calendar. The Eastern Christian churches still determine the Easter dates using the older Julian Calendar method. The usual statement, that "Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs next after the vernal equinox", is not a precise statement of the actual ecclesiastical rules. The full moon involved is not the astronomical Full Moon but an ecclesiastical moon determined from tables that keeps, more or less, in step with the astronomical Moon.
The Gregorian dates for the ecclesiastical full moon come from the Gregorian tables.
Dating the First Easter
Therefore, the civil date of Easter depends upon which tables - Gregorian or pre-Gregorian - are used. The western Roman Catholic and Protestant Christian churches use the Gregorian tables; many eastern Orthodox Christian churches use the older tables based on the Julian Calendar. In a congress held in , the eastern churches adopted a modified Gregorian Calendar and decided to set the date of Easter according to the astronomical Full Moon for the meridian of Jerusalem.
However, a variety of practices remain among the eastern churches. Inevitably, then, the date of Easter occasionally differs from a date that depends on the astronomical Full Moon and vernal equinox. In some cases this difference may occur in some parts of the world and not in others because two dates separated by the International Date Line are always simultaneously in progress on the Earth. For example, take the year The ecclesiastical full moon taken from the tables , however, occurred on March 20, before the fixed ecclesiastical equinox at March In the astronomical case, the Full Moon followed its equinox; in the ecclesiastical case, it preceded its equinox.
Following the rules, Easter, therefore, was not until the Sunday that followed the next ecclesiastical full moon Wednesday, April 18 making Easter Sunday, April Similarly, in the first ecclesiastical full moon after March 21 fell on Saturday, April Thus, Easter was Sunday, April The astronomical equinox also occurred on March Still, which was most likely the date of.
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- 1. Introduction.
- Part 1: Dating the First Easter.
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- Dates of Easter from to .
Easter; the early medieval history and arthur f. If you're looking further into the future, click here to see another Table A for years to A. The result is March 21, A. For example, year gave us a PFM date of March 21, and step 2 gave us a total result of 6. This accurate procedure applies to Orthodox churches, which always base their calculations on the Julian calendar and the "19 PFM dates" table.
It applies from the year A.
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This is the current situation in These instructions show the procedure for years to A. However, this simple method continues indefinitely, because the Julian calendar always has a February 29 date in every fourth year. The result is April 5, For example, year gave us a PFM date of April 5, and step 2 gave us a total result of 9.
This date is the Julian calendar Orthodox Easter Sunday date for year If the year itself is also Julian e. April 3 in is their Orthodox Easter Sunday date for that year. For example, English Easter Sunday date for A. The Gregorian calendar omits certain February 29 dates to keep its dates aligned with the seasons and position of Earth in relation to the Sun. To convert the Julian date to the Gregorian date, it is necessary to add the number of days shown in Table F.
When Is Easter?
Step 4 must be ignored if the Easter Sunday date calculated after step 3 occurred when the Julian calendar was still in use. The example for year gives the Julian Easter Sunday date of April 10, and Table F shows that we need to add 13 days to convert it to the Gregorian calendar date of April BASIC code is fairly straightforward, and can easily be converted to other programming languages.
Some typical questions about Easter are: Q1 "When was Easter Sunday last on April 10? NEXT loops to search or count. If you have any questions regarding the information presented here, please e-mail Ron Mallen at rwmallen chariot.