It’s The Full Moon that Determines Easter

By  | April 16, 2017 | Filed under: Interesting Facts

Likely you have already heard this from a friend, or perhaps you’ve even made this observation yourself: “Easter is coming late this year.”

Have you ever wondered how the date of Easter is actually set? It is all based on the moon.

The day to be observed as Easter was fixed by a great council of Christian churches, called the First Council of Nicaea, which met at Nicaea (now İznik, in the province of Bursa, Turkey) in A.D. 325. Under the Nicaean rule, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the fourteenth day of a particular new moon — the one that begins on or after the vernal equinox. [2017 Full Moon Calendar]

Put another way, Easter falls on the Sunday that follows the first full moon occurring on or the day after the March equinox. If the full moon occurs on a Sunday, however, then Easter is observed the following Sunday.

This year, the fourteenth day of this particular new moon was on April 11 (Eastern Daylight Time), which was a Tuesday. So the following Sunday, April 16, is designated as Easter.

When the Council of Nicaea met, Easter was already the most important festival of the church calendar, and it was the custom of thousands of Christians to make long pilgrimages to Jerusalem and other shrines to celebrate the Resurrection. The rule of the Council of Nicaea was established to make it certain that the pilgrims would always have the light of a full moon to guide them on their way at night.

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