Easter has never made sense to me in that it has a movable date (a moveable feast). The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon) following the Spring equinox (showing my Northern Hemisphere bias–despite my love for Australia and New Zealand).
In my usual surfing, I caught this page on the BBC Website, There’s actually a pretty neat video to go with it as well. but, the website sums up my frustration with Easter:
Easter is the most famous movable feast in our calendar. Its date appears to change unpredictably from year to year, and different branches of Christianity disagree on when exactly it should be marked. In some years, like 2014, western Christians and the Eastern churches (such as the Greek and Russian communities) celebrate Easter on the same Sunday – but that is not always the case.
It may seem strange that the Resurrection is not remembered on the same date across Christianity, and the reasons for this are intriguing. After the death of Jesus, Christian communities disagreed on the date it was said to have happened. Using the lunar calendar to determine its date added another layer of complexity, as there were various methods to calculate lunar cycles.
Christians became real experts in the science of calculating the date of Easter year by year, known as ‘computus’. It’s no exaggeration to say that Easter played a key role in keeping maths and astronomy alive during the early middle ages. Groups across continents also used different Gospels to back up their traditions resulting in increasingly heated arguments.
I’ve got to admit that it makes a whole lot more sense if one thinks of it as being Passover since the Jewish calendar follows the lunar cycle. Anyway, the fact that Easter is not calculated the same way. In fact, it seems that the little guide I mentioned in the First paragraph was one way of ending a bit of the controversy, but it is still controversial.
As well as settling other doctrinal questions, the Council aimed to resolve the issues surrounding the date of Easter, decreeing that all Christians should celebrate Easter on the same date and that this should be separate from the date of Passover. Unfortunately, there are a few people out there who didn’t get the memo.
Easter: Why is it so early this year?