Gerry Coughlan explains why Easter is such a moveable feast and why the date of the feast changes each year.
Easter is a movable feast, meaning the date changes each year and this year will fall a week earlier than Easter 2020. Easter Sunday will be on 4 April and Good Friday will be on 2 April.
The latest Easter Sunday has ever been was in 1943, when it fell on 25 April. This will not occur again until 2038. The earliest possible date for Easter Sunday is 22 March. The last time an Easter occurred that early was 1818, and another will not come until 2285.
One may ask why does the moveable feast of Easter occur on different dates in the Gregorian and the Julian calendar? The reason the date of Easter moves every year is because medieval Christianity sought to align the holiday in time as closely as possible with the Jewish feast of Passover – but not to base its calculation on the Jewish calculation for the date of Passover.
Christianity also decided Easter should occur on a Sunday. The lunar calendar is comprised of 12 months made up of 29 to 30 days each which follow the waxing and waning of the moon.
A ‘Waxing Moon’ means the moon is getting larger in the sky, moving from the New Moon towards the Full Moon.