Friday, April 06, 2012
What the moon has to do with Easter observances
One might think that like other religious observances such as Christmas, Easter should have a specific date, but it's different every year. As you may have guessed already, Easter is observed because of the Catholic Pope's whim back in 1582 and not because of anything historical.
Pope Gregory XIII decreed in 1582 as part of the Gregorian calendar, that Easter would be observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon that came after the vernal equinox(March 21). If the first Paschal moon fell on Sunday, Easter would be observed the following Sunday. And here's the funny thing: the full moon isn't even based on the actual moon's appearance since it can appear to be full on one part of Earth and crescent on another. For Easter purposes, the Paschal moon is defined to be the 14th day of the lunar cycle on some table.
Isn't it weird that the observance of something so universally reverential as Christ rising after three days in the tomb is determined by an arbitrary, astrological phenomenon?