HAPPY EASTER MONDAY & What is Easter?
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When is Easter Monday?
Easter Monday is a Christian holiday celebrated the day after Easter Sunday.
Formerly, it was celebrated as Easter Week in many places but this was reduced to a one-day celebration in the 19th century.
In many countries in Europe and South America, this day is known as “Little Easter”. The Catholic Church calls it “Monday of the Angel”.
What is Easter?
Easter (also called Pascha) is generally accounted the most important holiday of the Christian year, observed in March or April each year to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead after his death by crucifixion (see Good Friday), which Christians believe happened at about this time of year, almost two thousand years ago. (Easter can also refer to the season of the church year, lasting for nearly two months, which follows this holiday and ends around Pentecost)
Orthodox Easter date
Orthodox churches such as the Greek church, base their Easter date on the Julian calendar, while other Christians use the Gregorian calendar.
Why is it called Easter?
The name Easter is derived from ‘Ostara’ or ‘Eostre’, a pagan goddess of fertility, whose feast was celebrated on the Vernal Equinox. The word East is also derived from her names, as is Oestrogen, the female hormone. In Saxon culture, the Hare was sacred to Ostara and the modern tradition of the Easter Bunny is a distant echo of that.
However, In most languages other than English and German, the holiday’s name is derived from Pesach, the Hebrew name of Passover, a Jewish holiday to which the Christian Easter is intimately linked, as the Gospel of John states that the last supper took place during a specific part of the Passover traditions.
Easter, therefore, depends on Passover not only for much of its symbolic meaning but also for its position in the calendar.
Deciding on a date
The dates when Easter is celebrated varies from year to year. Why is this different from another Christian holiday, such as Christmas day, which is always on Dec 25th?
The problem is that the Gospels are pretty vague on the date of Easter. Matthew, Mark and Luke indicate one date, whereas John indicates a different date. Another factor is that Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. To early Christians, his return for a second time was imminent, therefore they didn’t worry too much about dates.
As the centuries passed, this lack of clarity around the date meant there was no standard date for Easter. For example by the late Third Century, if you travelled around Europe, you could celebrate Easter several times in the space of a few weeks. In Alexandria, Easter was always April 25th; in Rome, it was April 18th and in parts of Gaul, it was celebrated on March 21st. In fact, in parts of Celtic Britain, the crucifixion was commemorated on a Thursday instead of a Friday.
It was only after several attempts to set a standard date for Easter, that the formula of the Alexandrian Church was accepted as the correct way to determine the date. With this method and a passing nod to the method of calculating Passover, Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon whose 14th day is on or after the Vernal Equinox. (see for the accountants in the audience below for the exact formula)
The earliest date that Easter can be is March 22nd and the latest is April 25th.
Modern Easter celebrations revolve around eggs. They may be painted, rolled down hills or eaten if they are of the chocolate variety. The Christian tradition of an egg is an aid to represent rebirth and resurrection – new life being born from the egg. It’s also been said that egg recalls the shape of the stone that rolled away on Easter Sunday form the tomb that held Jesus’ body.
This egg tradition is almost certainly a distillation of a much older pagan custom celebrating spring. The ancient Persians celebrated their new year at the time of the vernal equinox by painting eggs.
Its adoption into the Christian traditions would have been quite seamless, as eggs are banned during the period of Lent preceding Easter – in fact in many households the last eggs before Easter would have been used to make Pancakes on Pancake Tuesday.
For the Accountants in the audience
how to calculate the date of Easter.
The rule is that Easter is the first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after March 21. The lunar cycles used by the ecclesiastical system are simple to program. The following algorithm will compute the date of Easter in the Gregorian Calendar system.
The algorithm uses the year, y, to give the month, m, and day, d, of Easter. The symbol * means multiply.
Please note the following: This is an integer calculation. All variables are integers and all remainders from division are dropped.
c = y / 100 n = y – 19 * ( y / 19 ) k = ( c – 17 ) / 25 i = c – c / 4 – ( c – k ) / 3 + 19 * n + 15 i = i – 30 * ( i / 30 ) i = i – ( i / 28 ) * ( 1 – ( i / 28 ) * ( 29 / ( i + 1 ) ) * ( ( 21 – n ) / 11 ) ) j = y + y / 4 + i + 2 – c + c / 4 j = j – 7 * ( j / 7 ) l = i – j m = 3 + ( l + 40 ) / 44 d = l + 28 – 31 * ( m / 4 )
For example, using the year 2010,
n=2010 – 19 x (2010/19) = 15,
etc. resulting in Easter on April 4, 2010.