Although the earliest date possible for Easter is 22 March,m that last occurred in 1818 and won’t happen until 2285. In 2008, Easter was on 23 March, and we’ll see that again (not!) in 2160. By contrast, another 28 March Easter (as it is this year) is only 11 years away – although that’s just about within the time-frame that Archbishop Justin Welby hopes for an ecumenical agreement on a fixed Easter date.
Disagreements about the date of Easter in the early church led to the Council of Nicea (in 325AD) deciding that Easter should be on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. Why? The full moon is linked to the Jewish festival of Passover – which was the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. Eastern and Western churches still have different dates for Easter because the former use the Julian calendar to calculate the date, whereas the West moved to the Gregorian calendar following a papal decree in 1582 (although, not being keen to be too slavish to continental Europe – sound familiar? – the UK waited until September 1752 to change).
In England we actually have a (1928) Act of Parliament providing for Easter to be on the first Sunday after the second Saturday of April – but it has never been implemented. All that is a long-winded way of observing that Easter is early this year so we only have one Sunday of “ordinary time” (green as the liturgical colour) between Candlemas and Lent.
So, from Wednesday, will you take the challenge of doing an act of generosity or kindness each day? Go to www.40acts.org.uk and join the movement.