But unlike the set date of a birthday or event in history, Easter has a peculiar set of rules that determines when it can be celebrated. There are various holidays that have a “floating” date, meaning that the specific day changes from year to year with only a general range of time specified for that holiday.
Christmas for example is always on the 25th of December, while Mothers Day is held on the second Sunday in May. Presidents Day is held on the third Monday of February, the specific date changes from year to year, while St. Patrick’s Day is always held on March 17th. There are a lot of Irish wannabes that would prefer a floating holiday so that this momentous occasion could occur on the weekend of every year but they continue to make due.
Cinco De Mayo always happens on the 5th of May, it kind of has too but Ash Wednesday falls on the specific day of 45 days prior to Easter Sunday, so if you messed up the Date of Easter you would have had to disregard your Ash reserves and forgo lent all together, maybe next year?
Determining the exact date of Easter Sunday requires a PhD in numerology, a Master in Chronology and a good sense of humor.
Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it is not fixed in relation to the civil calendar. The First Council of Nicaea (325) established the date of Easter as the first Sunday after the full moon (the Paschal Full Moon, not just any full moon mind you…) following the March equinox.
Ecclesiastically, the equinox is reckoned to be on 21 March (although the astronomical equinox occurs on 20 March in most years, so even though it’s fixed it varies…), and the "Full Moon" is not necessarily on the astronomically correct date. The date of Easter therefore varies from 22 March to 25 April inclusive. Eastern Christianity bases its calculations on the Julian calendar, whose 21 March corresponds, during the 21st century, to 3 April in the Gregorian calendar, and in which therefore the celebration of Easter varies between 4 April and 8 May. That was easy, don’t you think, with Wikipedia’s help.
Regardless of the date, the determining factors of the planets and the gravitational pull of Pluto on the sands of Hawaii beaches the Easter Holiday is even more difficult to comprehend now that governments demand a retraction of the word “Easter” replacing the very name with “spring break”. The essence of our beliefs are being strategically stripped away and whitewashed with the secularism of “political correctness”.
As a student I looked forward to the “Easter Holiday” even if I didn't understand when it would be. I knew it was coming and and like many of my friends I looked foreword to the time off. I could count on having the week off prior to Easter Sunday or the week after, with the added anticipation of friends and family gathering together for massive meals, laughter, Easter egg hunts and a religious event that gave me a substantial understanding of the importance of that day.
Today is Saturday, the Saturday prior to Easter Sunday and I have to admit I was a little surprised when I realized that Easter was tomorrow. Each of my kids are still in school and each it seems have different holiday break. Some had off two weeks ago, some had their break one week ago and our German exchange student has her break next week.
The confusion of the date of Easter is bad enough but when the perplexity of the very holiday is bastardized and reduced to an afterthought then perhaps we have gone too far. Easter is the culmination of all our Christian beliefs and encapsulates all that we believe. To the Christian Easter is in remembrance of His resurrection and the pinnacle of His Divine nature. Without Easter we have no Son of God, we have no hope for an afterlife, we have no reason to believe.
Easter is perhaps the most important holiday that Christians have, so why have we allowed for its demarcation? Why have we allowed it to be minimized and marginalized? Perhaps it’s time to start actually defending this holiday, demanding that this holiday be reinstated and that the word Easter be used to define and describe this Holy Day rather than the insubordinate “spring break”.
Culturally we are in the fight for our souls. We may be losing the battle to secularism but we can still fight for the sanctity of our beliefs and at least be given the time off under the label for which it used to be, a religious holiday. Perhaps if we take a stand on this we may learn to stand for other important events and who knows, maybe, one day we might start to see that needed change that brings to pass the pure message of love that was so eloquently and simply taught by the one and only Jesus Christ, the true Son of God.