Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Wasn't it a bit late in the year for Easter?

I couldn't stop myself from telling a friend on Facebook about the reason why bunnies are prevalent around Easter.  While I was explaining the March hare symbology I realised something.  Easter wasn't all that close to March this year, in fact, it's almost May now.  What happened?

I had to do some digging, because for some reason I've never looked into it myself.  I already knew that Easter is a moveable holiday but I hadn't realised that it was calculated by the seasons and the full moon.  I'm beginning to like it more and more for reasons other than the obvious chocoholic coma that accompanies it.

The First Council of Nicaea was convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 325AD in an attempt to settle some controversies within Christendom.  The main raised by Arianism over the nature of the Trinity but more minor squabbles like the timing of Easter.

It was decided that the date of Easter would fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon (Paschal Full Moon) after the Northern hemisphere's Vernal Equinox.  This can be as early as the 22nd of March or as late as the 25th of April.  Although the last time it was as late as the 25th was way back in 1943.  (There is some difference between the Western parts of the church and the Eastern Orthodox ones where some are still using the Julian calendar, so their dates can be different.  However, here in Australia, as in New Zealand, the Gregorian calendar is in use - I had fun playing with the calendar calculations... yes, geek). 

While the calculations may sound a little Pagan slanted, it should be remembered that the moon's phases were openly used for an indicator of time not just by Pagans.  The timing of the Vernal Equinox in this calculation doesn't follow the seasonal timing but rather is the ecclesiastical date set by the Church to be March 21st. 

However, there are still some Christians who either refuse to celebrate Easter because of the ties to Paganism (Ostara and the obvious bunny/egg motifs) or choose to call it Resurrection Day or Resurrection Sunday, because of the Pagan etymological nature of the word Easter. 

Now I know that many of you probably already knew this, and are quite possibly dumbfounded that it took me so long to cotton on to the settlement of the date.  However, we learn something new everyday, and regardless of what it's called and when it is, I still enjoy cracking into the ears of a nom nommy chocolate bunny.

After all, if Easter isn't a plausible excuse to indulge in chocolate, when is?

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