THE Easter bank holiday dates change each year, so it is important to keep track – especially as careful diary planning can often secure you extra time away from the office.
When is Easter 2019 and how is the date decided?
Next year Easter falls on Sunday April 21. Good Friday is therefore April 19, and the Easter Monday bank holiday is on April 22.
The date is decided by a complex set of calculations based on observations of the moon.
In early Christianity, different churches used different methods, leading to disagreements which remain unresolved centuries later.
Eastern and Western churches continue to celebrate Easter according to different calendars, although sometimes by chance the festivals coincide.
Passover typically begins on the night of the first full moon after the spring equinox, except in “leap months” when it is the second full moon, as in 2016.
As the actual full moon can vary in each time zone, the Church instead calculates Easter from the 14th day of the ecclesiastic lunar month, known as the paschal full moon.
Easter Day is the Sunday that follows the paschal full moon falling on or after the equinox, and is therefore between one and seven days later.
Why does the date of Easter change each year?
Easter can be as early as March 22 or as late as April 25.
In Western Christianity, Easter Sunday must always fall on the next full moon after spring equinox.
The paschal full moon is the first one after the spring equinox, which is usually around March 20 or 21.
In 1818 the full moon fell on the equinox, Saturday March 21, so Easter was the next day, March 22. Easter will not be this early again until the year 2285.
The earliest Easter in recent years was March 23 in 2008.
In 1943 a full moon fell on March 20, just before the equinox, so the paschal full moon was the next one on April 18.
This was a Sunday so Easter was seven days later on April 25. It will not be this late again until 2038. The latest recently was April 23 in the year 2000.
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Christians in the East use the Julian calendar, 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar used in the West, so the full moon and equinox are calculated according to a different date.
This means in 2019 the Eastern church will celebrate Easter on April 28, a week after Western churches.
Some years, such as in 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2017, the two churches celebrate Easter on the same day. It will happen next in 2025.
In other years the festivals may be up to five weeks apart, as happened in 2013 and 2016.
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