A question about Easter in churches that don't follow a "liturgical year".

This is probably a stupid question, but I was just thinking about how Easter is not really like Christmas, which always falls on a specific date, December 25th (RCC). Easter always falls on a Sunday, but it’s never the same from year to year. Every year it changes. Sometimes it might be a few weeks earlier or later than it is this year. How do Christians who belong to non-denominational or other Christian churches, that don’t follow a formal ‘liturgical year’, know which Sunday Easter should actually fall on?

I know that for the Greek Orthodox Church, Easter is not usually celebrated on the same Sunday as the RCC, but that’s because they follow a different liturgical calendar than Rome does. But, from what I’ve seen, most non-Catholic Christian churches (at least in the USA) seem to celebrate it according to the Roman calendar. What would they do without following the RCC calendar? How would they choose the day? :hmmm:

Their calendars at home tell them so?

And the adverts on television?

The non-liturgical churches use the same formula as the Catholic Church.

First you must have the spring equinox… (Usually March 20th)
Then you must have a full moon, after the spring equinox…
The Sunday, after that full moon is Easter.

Easter is easy.

It’s always the first Sunday AFTER the first full moon that falls AFTER the Spring Equinox.

Hahaha… we must have been posting at the same time but you hit ‘submit’ first :thumbsup:

That’s kinda what I was thinking. :smiley:

I’m going to add to this that we actually follow the Gregorian Calendar, and the Orthodox follow the Julian Calendar, hence the differences.

Here is the full explanation from an article on the web for anyone interested:

The Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) set the date of Easter as the Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the full moon that falls on or after the vernal (spring) equinox.
We know that Easter must always occur on a Sunday, because Sunday was the day of Christ’s Resurrection. But why the paschal full moon? Because that was the date of Passover in the Jewish calendar, and the Last Supper (Holy Thursday) occurred on the Passover. Therefore, Easter was the Sunday after Passover.

The Church does not use the exact date of the paschal full moon but an approximation, because the paschal full moon can fall on different days in different time zones, which would mean that the date of Easter would be different depending on which time zone you live in. For calculation purposes, the full moon is always set at the 14th day of the lunar month (the lunar month begins with the new moon). Likewise, the Church sets the date of the vernal equinox at March 21, even though it can occur on March 20. Both approximations allow the Church to set a universal date for Easter.

Still, Easter isn’t celebrated universally on that date. While Western Christians use the Gregorian calendar (the calendar that’s used throughout the West today, in both the secular and religious worlds) to calculate the date of Easter, the Eastern Orthodox continue to use the older, astronomically inaccurate Julian calendar. Currently, March 21 on the Julian calendar falls on April 3 in the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, for the Orthodox, the Sunday following the 14th day of the paschal full moon has to fall after April 3, hence the discrepancy in the date of Easter.

That might give them a hint, but those Cadbury Egg commercials start so early they wouldn’t be much help. And, it’s not like Christmas where a lot of commercials count down how many “shopping days” are left, to remind people that time’s running out to buy all the toys they “need” for their kids to get from “Santa Claus”. :rolleyes:

Doh! I had forgotten about that formula! I do recall hearing about it when I was younger, but I guess my memory ain’t what it used to be. :blush:

Thanks for your replies, everyone. :smiley:

Excellent! Thank you very much for this explanation. I knew the Orthodox used a different calendar, but I wasn’t sure what the difference was. I really appreciate your help in explaining it! :wink:

You have to work backwards. You find out what day the candy goes to half price at Walmart. The day before is Easter! :smiley:

Excellent point! LOL :smiley:

You preach the truth. I’d still care about which day was Easter if I were JEWISH.

I will only say that if there are lurkers reading this thread, who are part of a non-liturgical church, yet are genuinely curious about the Catholic Church, the tone of some of the posts (that could be contrued as rather condescending) might confirm any negative false impressions they may have about Catholicism and Catholics, smiley emoticons notwithstanding.

Just sayin’. :shrug:


I hope my posts and my question didn’t sound that way. I apologize to everyone if they did. I was genuinely curious as to how non-liturgical Christians would know the correct date for Easter, since it always follows the liturgical Church calendar for Catholics. I meant no disrespect to those that don’t follow a liturgy. I posted this thread very late, when I should have already been sleeping, so I guess I wasn’t exactly thinking straight. Lesson learned. I shouldn’t post stupid questions when I’m half asleep. :blush:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.