Easter Observance Determination

Many religious celebrations are determined by astronomical circumstances. Easter is no exception. But because our secular calendar is not in sync with the motion of the heavens, Easter can occur as early as March 22 or as late as April 25. The general rule is: Easter will fall on the first Sunday after the Full Moon on or next after the vernal equinox (spring—March 19, 20 or 21). However, if the Full Moon occurs on a Sunday, Easter is celebrated on the following Sunday. This scenario happened in 2001.

However, there is a caveat to that rule that I only learned about back in 2018. Because the date of the vernal equinox does vary year-to-year, the determination for the Easter date depends on the “ecclesiastical approximation of March 21 for the vernal equinox” according to https://www.timeanddate.com. This stipulation holds true even if the vernal equinox falls on the 19th or 20th of March.

Therefore, for 2020, using March 21 as the date for the vernal equinox, the next Full Moon after March 21 will be on April 7 at 10:35 pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) this year. Therefore, Easter will be celebrated on the following Sunday, April 12.

Keep your eyes to the skies!

David A. Huestis

David Huestis
David Huestis
Entry Date:
Apr 8, 2020
Published Under:
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