The Moon Actually Determines What Date Easter Falls on Each Year

Amanda Garrity
·3 min read

From Good Housekeeping

Once the first day of spring hits, it's a welcome invitation to decorate Easter eggs, fill your house with pastel decor, and tend to your flower gardens. But if you follow the Christian faith, then you know that this time of year is about much more than the Easter Bunny and egg hunts. Easter is undoubtedly the star of the spring months, often falling just a few weeks after the first day of the season.

As you get ready for your Easter Sunday traditions — religious, celebratory or a mix of both — make sure you take into account when Easter falls this year, since it varies from one year to the next. Below, find out when you can expect to celebrate Easter in 2021 and how you can determine the date in the future.

When is Easter this year?

To figure out when Easter is celebrated, it's helpful to take a step back to the very beginning. Ash Wednesday, which is observed on Wednesday, February 17, 2021, is the official start of Lent. The Lenten season — Wednesday, February 17, to Thursday, April 1, 2021 — leads the way for Easter, preparing believers for the Christian holiday with 40 days of penance and fasting. Palm Sunday, which is celebrated on March 28, 2021, kicks off Holy Week, seven days of religious significance in the Christian faith and the final countdown to Easter. Lent officially ends on Maundy Thursday, three days before Easter. Following Maundy Thursday, Christians wrap up Holy Week by observing Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Easter Sunday, of course, is the grand finale — a day where Christians rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Unlike fixed holidays like Halloween and Christmas, Easter is considered a "moveable feast and can fall anywhere from March 22 and April 25," according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. In 2021, Easter falls on Sunday, April 4, which is considerably earlier than last year (April 12). Something else to note: Easter will take place in April for the next two years!

How is Easter's date determined?

Easter is traditionally celebrated on the first Sunday following the full moon — officially called "Paschal Full Moon" — that lands on or just after the spring equinox. While the date of Easter is always in flux, the Christian Church calendars state that the spring equinox always falls on March 21, whether that's scientifically correct or not (the date of the equinox varies between March 19 and March 22). This year, the first full moon after the spring equinox won't happen until Sunday, March 28, which means Easter falls on the following Sunday, April 4. If the first full moon falls on a Sunday, Easter is celebrated the following Sunday.

So, why do we celebrate Easter in spring anyway? According to the Bible, Jesus Christ's death and resurrection took place during the Jewish Passover, which typically falls in March or April. Commonly recognized as the festival of freedom, Passover begins at sundown on March 27, 2021 and ends on the evening of April 4, 2021.

You Might Also Like