Why is Easter Early This Year?

Easter falls on April 8th this year, relatively early compared to last year's date of April 24th. Have you ever wondered why Easter has such a wide latitude of possible dates?

In 325 A.D. the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, in an attempt to bring uniformity to the Church calendar, established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. Easter is delayed one week if the full moon is on Sunday. Thus, Easter has fallen as early as March 22nd and as late as April 25th.

Why base the date of Easter on the cycles of the moon? The Jewish Feast of Passover, which immediately preceded the Resurrection in the Gospel narratives, falls on the first full moon after Easter. The Hebrew Calendar follows the cycles of the moon, rather than the sun. Today, the Jewish Passover usually falls before Easter, but not always. This is because the differing rules between the Hebrew and Gregorian calendar cycles results in Passover falling about a month after Easter in three years of the 19-year Gregorian cycle.


  1. Easter is not "delayed" if the 14th of the moon is Sunday, any more than Thanksgiving is "delayed" if November 21 is a Thursday. Thanksgiving is now the 4th Thursday in November, so it falls on a date from November 22 to November 28 inclusive. Easter is the 3rd Sunday in its lunar month, so the age of the moon is always between 15 and 22 inclusive.

  2. Oops. That last number should be 21, not 22. Alwais profred.


Please include your name when you comment! We like to know who you are!