The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


Easter is early. Over the last few weeks I keep hearing that from people at St. George’s Church as well as from people who are not part of the Church family. Well yes - it is early, but it’s not a record.  In 1989 Easter Day was on March 26th but just five years ago it was three days earlier than that - now that really is early. Looking in the other direction Easter Day can be very late, which it was two years ago on April 24th, and next year it will be nearly as late - just four days earlier.  So why does the date of Easter keep moving?

There are several reasons for this, but two of them affect us directly. First is the Jewish, lunar calendar, which unlike our Gregorian calendar, has 13 months, albeit one of them is very short. We know from John’s Gospel that Christ’s death and resurrection took place at the Passover (the main Jewish feast), and so the date of Easter was fixed by the First Council of Nicaea, meeting in 325AD, as the first Sunday after the Passover. More accurately that’s described as “the Sunday which falls after the first full moon on or after the spring equinox”. And that’s the second reason for Easter moving, namely that unlike Christmas, which is set on a particular date, Easter Day is always a Sunday. To bring together a lunar calendar, the traditional date of Passover and the requirement for Easter Day to be a Sunday, causes it to move around between March 22nd and April 25th. This is then further confused by the Eastern Churches using the Julian Calendar to date Easter rather than the Gregorian calendar, which we use, thus the date in the East is often different.

What is really important, however, is not the date of Easter, but the keeping of Easter. For Christians it is THE festival of the year, when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. This resurrection led to the birth of the Christian Church and to the spread of the Christian faith around the world. Don’t let discussions about different dates or different rituals deflect you from worshipping Christ this Easter.  Jesus is alive. Alleluia!

Fr Mike Sheffield

Easter Edition 2013

From the Parish Priest