Have you ever wondered why Easter changes every year? If you have, you are in the right place! Read on for some fun information. Includes a list of Easter dates by year!
In the Christian religion, Easter is a time to celebrate Jesus’ miraculous resurrection 3 days after he was crucified. These three days are an important part of Christianity. They are also related to the reason why Easter falls on a different date each year.
A Movable Feast
Easter is considered a movable feast. In Christianity, a movable feast is an observance, celebration, or holiday, which does not fall on the same date each year. Though it falls on different dates in different years, Easter does always fall on a Sunday.
There are a few important things to understand as we explore how the date is calculated each year.
The Paschal Moon
One important thing to understand when it comes to how Easter’s date is determined is the Paschal moon. This is the first full moon following the spring equinox. Easter always takes place the Sunday after the Paschal full moon.
The Spring Equinox
The true equinox is when the earth’s tilt is equalized so that the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere are receiving roughly the same amount of sunlight.
However, this doesn’t perfectly correspond with our calendars. So the true spring equinox can occur anywhere from March 19th through March 21st. In order to simplify things, the liturgical calendar recognizes March 21 as the spring Equinox each year. It can be really helpful to just stick with that March 21 date!
What day is Easter in 2023?
This year, 2023, Easter will fall on April 9th. That’s because this year’s Paschal moon falls on Thursday, April 6th.
This year the Paschal moon does not fall on a Sunday itself. So, we can determine that Easter will be celebrated on the following Sunday–April 9th.
How does it look year-by-year?
This chart may give you a better understanding of how Easter’s dates can vary from year to year:
|Year||Date of Easter|
|2025||April 20, 2025|
|2024||March 31, 2024|
|2023||April 9, 2023|
|2022||April 17, 2022|
|2021||April 4, 2021|
|2020||April 12, 2020|
|2019||April 21, 2019|
|2018||April 1, 2018|
|2017||April 16, 2017|
So, how early can Easter take place?
Since Easter must follow the Paschal moon, how early it can take place theoretically is limited. Easter cannot take place before March 21st. The Paschal moon cannot occur before the spring equinox.
However, in 1818, Easter actually fell on March 22nd, as the Paschal moon that same year fell on March 21st–the equinox.
This won’t happen again for a very long time–or even in this century.
How late can Easter Sunday be celebrated?
In 1943, we saw a pretty late Easter! That year, the Paschal moon didn’t occur until April 18th! Interestingly, that year, April 18th happened to be a Sunday!
As a result, Easter in 1943 fell on April 25th–a full week later. Easter hasn’t been that late since then, and the next time Easter will be that late will be in 2038!
What are the rarest and most common Easter dates?
If we look at Easters ranging from 1600 to 2099 based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, we can look at 500 years of Easter. We see that the two most common Easter dates are on March 31st and April 16th.
So, what about the rarest Easter in that 500 year period? It turns out that the honor goes to March 24th! That’s one rare Easter date–especially considering it’s not even as unusually early as March 22nd!
It’s amazing how much calculation goes into determining when Easter will fall each year! Hopefully, you are feeling like you have a better grasp of why Easter changes each year.
To learn more about Easter, be sure to check out our FREE Easter lesson plan and video!