Easter calendar and shift of Sunday calendars
(NEXSTAR) – Have you ever noticed that Easter never seems to fall on the same day? Christmas is always December 25 and Mother’s Day is the second Sunday in May. But you will still need to check the Easter calendar. Why?
Easter, if you are unfamiliar, is a Christian holiday that marks the resurrection of Jesus. It always falls on a Sunday in March or April. To understand why, you have to look up to the sky.
“The date of Easter is determined by the moon. Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox,” says Kim Mandelkow, director of the Office for Worship for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
This year, for example, the first full moon after the vernal equinox (also known as the first day of spring, which is March 20) is Saturday, April 16. Easter Sunday is the next day.
“The moon is not regular,” says Fr. Martin Schlag, professor and chair of Catholic social thought at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. “It doesn’t follow the solar calendar, but it has its own lunar calendar that varies every year.”
If the first full moon fell on a Sunday, Easter Sunday would be pushed back a week, Mandelkow explains.
Because Easter is dependent on the vernal equinox, it can fall anywhere from March 22 to April 25. Having Easter on either of those days, however, is relatively rare, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. You’re most likely to see an Easter year fall on March 31 or April 16, which have the highest holiday claim frequencies.
Next year we will have an earlier Easter: April 9th.