EASTER is a significant celebration in the Christian calendar and is currently being marked around the world.
But why does the religious holiday fall on a different date each year? And when does Easter Sunday take place in 2021?
When is Easter 2021?
In 2021, Easter Sunday falls on Sunday, April 4, more than a week earlier than last year’s date of April 12.
For most people in the UK, this should fall towards the beginning of the school holidays.
Unlike Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day which all fall on fixed dates, Easter can be any time between March 22 and April 25.
This is because it is determined by the Jewish calendar, which is based on lunar cycles, and Easter should fall the Sunday after the Passover full moon.
Good Friday will fall on April 2 and the Easter Monday bank holiday is on April 5.
Why is Easter on a different date every year?
The date is decided by a complex set of calculations based on observations of the moon, meaning the date is different every year.
In early Christianity, different churches used different methods, leading to disagreements which remain unresolved centuries later.
Eastern and Western churches continue to celebrate Easter according to different calendars, although sometimes by chance the festivals coincide.
How do we work out when Easter will be?
Since early Christian times, several methods have been used to work out the date of Easter.
In Western Christianity, Easter Sunday must always follow the first full moon after the spring equinox.
Easter is always celebrated near the Jewish festival Passover as the Bible says the death and resurrection of Jesus happened around this time.
Passover typically begins on the night of the first full moon after the spring equinox, except in “leap months” when it is the second full moon, as in 2016.
Because the precise timing of observing the full moon can vary in each time zone, the Church instead calculates the date of Easter from the ecclesiastical calendar.
This divides 19 normal calendar years into 235 months of 30 and 29 days each, with the ecclesiastical full moon on the 14th day of each lunar month.
The “paschal full moon” – from the Aramaic for Passover – is the one that falls on or after the spring equinox.
So in 2021 the spring equinox is on Saturday, 20 March, and the next full moon after this takes place on Sunday, March 28.
Easter Day is the first Sunday after the paschal full moon – so if the full moon is on a Sunday, Easter will be a week later, which is April 4 in 2021.
When did schools break up for Easter 2021?
Boris Johnson unveiled his roadmap out of lockdown on February 22, 2021.
He announced the schools will be returning on March 8.
Schools have different Easter holiday dates so you should always check by putting your postcode in the government’s website.
Most schools broke up for Easter from Thursday, April 1, to Friday, April 16, 2021, with the Easter weekend falling between April 2-5.
However some schools terms ended earlier on Friday, March 26, 2021.
Why do different churches celebrate Easter on different days?
When in 1582 Pope Gregory XIII replaced the Roman calendar with the more accurate Gregorian calendar, determining the date of Easter became a bit more complicated.
Easter was first calculated using the Gregorian calendar in the UK in 1753, with Catholic and western Christians still using the Gregorian calendar to determine the date of Easter.
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Some Orthodox church, however, celebrate Easter Day on a different date as they still use the Roman calendar – started by Julius Caesar – and a different moon to calculate from.
As per the Gregorian calendar used in the UK, Easter can be on the dates between March 22 to April 25.
The last time Easter occurred on the earliest possible date, March 22, was in 1818. The next time won’t be until 2285.