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Why the Easter date keeps changing

By Vision Reporter

Added 23rd March 2008 03:00 AM

THE world over, Jesus’ birth (Christmas) is marked on December 25, regardless of which day of the week it falls, whereas Easter, apart from falling on Sundays, is inconsistent. It can be in March, April or May.

THE world over, Jesus’ birth (Christmas) is marked on December 25, regardless of which day of the week it falls, whereas Easter, apart from falling on Sundays, is inconsistent. It can be in March, April or May.

By Jude Katende and Joseph Ssemutooke

THE world over, Jesus’ birth (Christmas) is marked on December 25, regardless of which day of the week it falls, whereas Easter, apart from falling on Sundays, is inconsistent. It can be in March, April or May.

Easter also takes the record for being the longest holiday, stretching from Holy Thursday to Easter Monday.
Also called Pascha, Easter, which celebrates Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, is the greatest and oldest feast of the Church.

The term Pascha is borrowed from the Jewish word for “Passover.” Easter is calculated basing on the lunar calendar, while all other feasts follow the solar calendar.

Origin of the inconsistency
As Christianity developed, there was often controversy over the exact timing of Easter. The churches of Alexandria and Rome had different points of view.

The Alexandrian Easter could fall on any day between March 22 and April 25, while in Rome, Easter was to fall between March 25 and April 21.
Orthodox churches still base their calculation of Easter on the Julian Calendar, Western churches follow the Gregorian calendar.

To keep the Easter date on a Sunday, the date changes yearly, based on the Paschal full moon. Easter is observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon or after the day of the vernal equinox — the beginning of astronomical spring.

Gemma O’Doherty of The Independent, observes that this year’s Easter fell on the earliest date since 1913. O’Doherty asserts that the resurrection of Jesus happened during the Jewish feast of Passover, which the Hebrew religion celebrates according to the Lunar Calendar and the changing shape of the moon.

“Fixing the date of Easter in the Roman calendar would lead to the celebration of the feast on dates unrelated to the Jewish observance of Passover, which marks the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt,” he notes.

It is generally agreed that the actual dates of Jesus’ arrest, suffering, death and resurrection are not known. However, it is believed that early Christians decided to celebrate the Easter festival between March and April — around the time of the Spring Equinox — to coincide with the Jewish Passover festival which the gospels mention as the period when the Easter events occurred.

The other reason advanced is that the early church wanted to win over pagans. Thus, it is believed that Christians decided to reconcile their Easter celebrations with the pagan festival.

The major pagan rituals were in worship of a Phrygian god, known as Attis who was believed to have died and resurrected every year between March 23 and 25.

Actually many religious historians believe that the death and resurrection legends were first associated with Attis centuries before the coming of Jesus, and that Jesus’ followers only grafted the legends onto the stories of his life to make him more acceptable to pagans.

However, ancient Christians argued that Satan had created counterfeit deities before Christ’s coming to confuse the truth.

The Easter Bunny/rabbit
Religious historians agree that the rabbit, which today is known as the Easter bunny, has nothing to do with Jesus’ death and resurrection. They said it is another of the pagan symbols incorporated into the Christian observation of Easter.

The spring and fertility goddess of ancient Europe was believed to have, as her sacred animal, a rabbit, in some areas a hare.

According to history, the Easter bunny became a popular part of the Easter culture when German settlers introduced it into the American fabric culture as a rabbit that would lay coloured eggs on Easter Eve for children to pick next morning.

Other Easter customs which are similar to pagan practices include the Easter Morning service celebrated before sunrise, the hot cross buns and the Easter parade.

Why the Easter date keeps changing

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