We all appreciate the amount of chocolate that comes our way at Easter but trying to keep up with when Easter is can be a nightmare. So why do we celebrate it, why does it move, and when is it this year?
Why does Easter move?
Easter 2021 is April 4th 2021
The last few weeks have been, for anyone Christian, Lent. Lent officially ends on April 3rd 2021, and Easter Sunday is April 4th. This is earlier than last year, and even the year before. But why? Well, the answer comes as a complicated surprise.
Easter can happen any day between March 22nd and April 25th. It happens on the Sunday directly after the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox (March 21st, according to the church). This tie to the lunar cycle is precisely why Easter moves each year, to make sure it keeps aligned with both full moons. It is tied to the cycle due to Easter’s inherent connection with the Jewish tradition of Passover.
According to the Bible, when Jesus found out he was to be executed, he orchestrated a ‘Last Supper’, wherein he broke bread with his disciples. This ‘Last Supper’ was, essentially, a Passover feast, but with an extra meaning behind it. Therefore, early Christians tied the two events together.
Why do we celebrate Easter?
As a nation whose official religion is Protestant Christianity, we celebrate Easter as the anniversary (kind of) of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. The Bible tells of a series of events which lead to Pontius Pilate, a Roman ruler, calling for the execution of Jesus. Jesus found out about this, called The Last Supper, and then was crucified. However, several days after his death, people discovered his tomb – which was essentially a cave – was empty. Jesus had pushed the door from the tomb, and left. This is what we now refer to as Easter.
Why is it called Easter?
There are two theories held by theologists and historians as to why we call the holiday Easter. One is that Easter comes from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘Eostre‘, which referred to the goddess of fertility and spring. Another is that Easter comes from the Latin phrase ‘in albis‘, which went on to be ‘Eostarum’ in German, meaning dawn.
Why the eggs and the Easter bunny?
Nobody can say for definite why we have the Easter bunny and Easter eggs, but the theories are that eggs are a representation of birth, fertility, in part because they used to represent Eostre, and so got associated with the other themes of Easter. Likewise, the most common theory, according to History.com about the Easter bunny is that it started in Germany. German children used to leave nests out for Oschter Haws (Easter Hare) to lay colourful eggs in. Other theories reckon that a bunny was chosen because of their tendency to, well, go at it. Birth and fertility, remember?
So there we have it, whilst a lot of the Easter tradition is a bit mysterious and weird – we’re looking at you Germany – this is why we celebrate Easter, and why it moves around so much!