Sunday, February 10, 2008

Early Easter?

Lent and Easter are exceptionally early this year.
Now, you may ask: Early compared to what?
Well, the answer is early compared to the range of dates that can accommodate Easter under the Easter dating method devised by Pope Gregory XIII and his astonomers and mathmeticians.
According to the Gregorian calendar Easter is always one of the 35 dates between March 22 and April 25. The canonical rule is that Easter Day is the first Sunday after the 14th day of the lunar month (the nominal full moon) that falls on or after March 21 (nominally the day of the vernal equinox). So, this year Easter pretty much coincides with the beginning of spring.
Here's another interesting fact: The last time Easter occurred this early was 1913.
Next year Easter will fall on April 12 which presumably will seem more normal. And in 2011 Easter will fall on April 24 which is one day shy of its latest possible date.
One would expect that it will be a chilly Easter this year.
But I actually remember balmy Easters in March and chilly Easters in April. And there have even been years when it has snowed on Easter Sunday.
Why is the date of Christmas fixed while the date of Easter changes each year? That's a question for another time.

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