Mar 28, 2017

When is Easter weekend 2017 and why does it change every year?

Crack open the chocolate egg because Easter weekend is almost here.

The weekend itself can be difficult to predict (unless you tap it into Google) as it changes every year.

Not only that but the date can be completely different depending on whether it’s for the Western Christian or Eastern Orthodox church.

Here is everything you need to know.

When is Easter 2017?

Easter falls on Sunday April 16 next year, meaning Good Friday will fall on April 14 and Easter Monday will fall on April 17.

As with every year, both the Friday and the Monday are public holidays.

Why does the date of Easter change?

Easter can fall as early as March sometimes or even as late as May (according to the Gregorian calendar) with the eastern church.

The reason the date changes so much is because Easter must fall on ‘the first Sunday after the vernal equinox – i.e the first full moon after March 21 ‘.

The reason Easter varies between the churches is because the two churches follow different calendars.

The western one is Gregorian (lunar) and the eastern is based on the Julian calendar (solar).

There is a 13-day difference between the two as the solar year (how long it takes to rotate around the Sun) and lunar year are different.

Naturally this also means the dates for Easter differ.

What is Easter all about?

Hunting down the Easter bunny and scoffing chocolate eggs might be the what most people do around Easter time, but the public holiday is actually the day Jesus is said to have risen from the dead.

This is a huge celebration for Christians, not only because Jesus came back to them, but also because his return demonstrated that there must be an afterlife.

On Easter Sunday itself, the bible tells how Mary Magdalene visited Jesus’s tomb and discovered that the stone entrance had been removed and his body was missing.

Why is the day called Easter?

There isn’t actually a reference to Easter in the bible – neither is there a reference to Christmas – so the origins of the word are thought to have come much later.

Some believe that the name ‘Easter’ comes from Pagan times when the goddess of fertility and spring – ‘Eastra’ – was worshipped.

Others believe the word dates back to the Frankish church who used celebrated the ‘alba’ (sunrise) when celebrating Christ’s resurrection, a word that translates as ‘Ostern’ in German, which some suggest then evolved into ‘Easter’.

How is Easter celebrated?

Christians celebrating Easter are likely to attend a special Easter sermon followed by a large family meal and lots of chocolate eggs. Eggs symbolise new life and are eaten during Easter to symbolise the new life given to Jesus after his resurrection on Easter Sunday. The shape of the egg also looks like a tomb – and the cracked egg symbolises the empty tomb.

Eating eggs was forbidden during the Holy Week, and instead they were saved, decorated and gifted to children.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that the first chocolate eggs appeared in France and Germany, and this tradition has now carried on.

How can I get involved?

You can visit your local church for their Easter sermon.

Easter Egg hunts are also a popular activity and some of the best ones can be found here.

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