ONLY two months remain until Easter Day rolls around again and it’s already starting to look like spring has sprung.
But when exactly is the big day? Unlike Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day which all fall on fixed dates, Easter can fall anytime between March 22 and April 25. Here’s what you need to know for 2019.
Alamy Unlike Christmas and Valentine’s Day, the date of Easter Sunday changes every year
When is Easter 2019?
Easter is a moveable feast. In 2019 it falls on Sunday, April 21.
Good Friday is therefore April 19, and the Easter Monday bank holiday is on April 22.
The date is decided by a complex set of calculations based on observations of the moon.
In early Christianity, different churches used different methods, leading to disagreements which remain unresolved centuries later.
Eastern and Western churches continue to celebrate Easter according to different calendars, although sometimes by chance the festivals coincide.
When do the schools break up for Easter 2019?
Schools usually get around two weeks off for the Easter break.
Because Easter is late this year, in most areas kids will be off for the two weeks before.
That means they break up on Friday, April 5, and go back on Easter Tuesday, April 23.
With the weekends and the bank holiday, that stretches to 17 days.
Other schools might take the two weeks either side of Easter so the two bank holidays fall within the Easter holidays.
Dates vary in different areas so you should check your school or council’s website.
The four-day Easter weekend in 2019 kicks off on Good Friday, April 19
How is the date of Easter decided and why does it change each year?
In Western Christianity, Easter Sunday must always follow the first full moon after the spring equinox.
Easter celebrates the death and resurrection of Jesus, which the Bible says happened around the Jewish festival Passover.
Passover typically begins on the night of the first full moon after the spring equinox, except in “leap months” when it is the second full moon, as in 2016.
Because the precise timing of observing the full moon can vary in each time zone, the Church instead calculates the date from ecclesiastical calendar.
This divides 19 normal calendar years into 235 months of 30 and 29 days each, with the ecclesiastical full moon on the 14th day of each lunar month.
The “paschal full moon” – from the Aramaic for Passover – is the one that falls on or after the spring equinox on March 21.
Easter Day is the first Sunday after the paschal full moon – so if the full moon is on a Sunday, Easter will be a week later.
Therefore the earliest Easter can be is March 22, and the latest is April 25.
The latest Easter in recent years was April 23 in the year 2000, and the earliest was March 23 in 2008.
It will not fall in March again until 2024 when it is on March 31.
In 1943 a full moon fell on March 20, just before the equinox, so the paschal full moon was the next one on April 18.
This was a Sunday so Easter was seven days later on April 25.
It will not be this late again until 2038.
MUM’S THE WORD Why is the date for Mother’s Day different in other countries? LOVE TO KNOW Valentine’s Day traditions started in BRITAIN… but why do we celebrate it? FLIPPING YUMMY When is Pancake Day 2019 and how do you make gluten free pancakes? FACE OF JESUS What did Jesus Christ look like, when was He born and where did He die? BANKING ON A BREAK? When’s our next bank holiday? The key dates for 2019 SIGN US UP What does the Year of the Pig mean for YOU? ARTS & CRAFTS Chinese New Year 2019 crafts – from lanterns to origami and dragons hitting the pig-time This is how they select the animals for each Chinese New Year SEASON’S GREETINGS How to say Happy New Year in Chinese and what gong hei fat choy means DRAGON DANCE Chinese New Year traditions and customs include food, fun, family & fashion NEW BEGINNINGS Happy Chinese New Year images, wishes, greetings and songs to celebrate
Christians in the East use the Julian calendar, 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar used in the West, so the full moon and equinox are calculated according to a different date.
This means in 2019 the Eastern church will celebrate Easter on April 28, a week after Western churches.
Some years, such as in 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2017, the two churches celebrated Easter on the same day. It will happen next in 2025.
In other years the festivals may be up to five weeks apart, as happened in 2013 and 2016.