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Choosing the Date for Easter

Filed under History of Holidays, History/The Book of Days

Thanks to Chambers’ Almanac, The Book of Days:

Though there has never been any difference of opinion in the Christian church as to why Easter is kept, there has been a good deal as to when it ought to be kept. It is one of the moveable feasts; that is, it is not fixed to one particular day — like Christmas Day, e. g., which is always kept on the 25th of December — but moves backwards or forwards according as the full moon next after the vernal equinox falls nearer or further from the equinox. The rule given at the beginning of the Prayer-book to find Easter is this: ‘Easter-day is always the first Sunday after the full moon which happens upon or next after the twenty-first day of March; and if the full moon happens upon a Sunday, Easter-day is the Sunday after.’

A good deal more about silly humans almost coming to blows for a few centuries over choosing The Date of Easter from the The Book of Days (including my new favorite word: Qiccertodecimans). And more recent (20th c to present) attempts to Reform of the Date of Easter.

I read The Book of Days’ entry for each day of the year during the year 2000 (the “Book” is actually a 2-volume set of approx. 1500 pages). It’s a fascinating glimpse of what was probably common knowledge in the Victorian age. More info:
Chambers’ Almanac, The Book of Days.

Posted by Leslie, April 23rd, 2011

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