When is Easter 2020? | How the Easter Date is Determined

Why Does The Date of Easter Change Every Year?

October 2, 2019
Natural Easter Eggs
Pixabay

Why do we celebrate Easter? And why is Easter so late this year? We’ll explain—plus, find out how the date of Easter is determined and why it changes every year!

Why We Celebrate Easter

Easter is the most important feast day on the Christian calendar.

Regularly observed from the earliest days of the Church, Easter celebrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead, following crucifixion. It marks the end of Holy Week, the end of Lent, and the last day of the Easter Triduum (starting from the evening of Maundy Thursday, through Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday), as well as the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year.

The resurrection represents the triumph of good over evil, sin, death, and the physical body.

When Is Easter 2020? 

Easter is a “movable feast” and does not have a fixed date; however, it is always held on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25.

Many Eastern Orthodox churches follow the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian. In this case, the observance of Easter can occur between April 4 and May 8.

Year Easter Sunday
(Gregorian calendar)

Eastern Orthodox Church
(Julian calendar)

2020 April 12 April 19
2021 April 4 May 2
2022 April 17 April 24

How Is The Date of Easter Determined?

Would you believe that the date of Easter is related to the full Moon?

Specifically, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the full Moon that occurs on or just after the spring equinox. Yes, it’s a bit confusing at first glance!

Let’s break it down: In 2020, the spring equinox will happen on Thursday, March 19. The first full Moon to occur after that date rises the night of Tuesday, April 7. Therefore, Easter will be observed on the subsequent Sunday, April 12. 

On religious calendars, the first full Moon of spring is called the “Paschal Full Moon” (which we’ll explain further below). So, to put it another way, Easter is observed on the Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon.

What Happens When the Full Moon and Spring Equinox Occur on the Same Day?

Generally, if the full Moon occurs on the same day as the spring equinox, Easter is observed on the subsequent Sunday. However, there is a caveat:

Long ago, the Christian Church decided to simplify the process of calculating Easter’s date by always observing the spring equinox on March 21, despite the fact that the equinox can actually occur on March 19, 20, or 21.

This discrepancy between the astronomical equinox date and the Church’s observed equinox date can sometimes cause confusion, as it did in 2019, when the full Moon and the astronomical equinox occurred on the same day—Wednesday, March 20.

According to the formula above, this should have meant that Easter would be observed on Sunday, March 24. However, because the Church observes the equinox on March 21, the full Moon technically did not occur “on or just after” the equinox, meaning that the next full Moon would determine Easter’s date instead. Thus, Easter was held on Sunday, April 21, after the full Moon on Friday, April 19.

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What Is the Paschal Full Moon?

The word “Paschal,” which is used in the ecclesiastical (Christian church) calendar, comes from “Pascha,” a transliteration of the Aramaic word meaning “Passover.”

In reference to the full Moon, Paschal refers to the date of the full Moon determined many years ago as the 14th day of a lunar month. Ancient calculations (made in a.d. 325) did not take into account certain lunar motions.

So, the Paschal Full Moon is the 14th day of a lunar month occurring on or next after March 21 according to a fixed set of ecclesiastical calendar rules, which does not always match the date of the astronomical full Moon nearest the astronomical spring equinox.

It sounds complicated, but the basic idea is to make it simpler for modern calendars. Rest assured, the dates for Easter are calculated long in advance. See past and future Easter dates here.

Want to read more about Easter and the Paschal Full Moon? See our article on their curious connection here.

easter-calendar-cross_full_width.jpg

What is the Golden Number?

Readers often ask us about the Golden Number, which was traditionally used in calculations for determining the date of Easter.

The Golden Number is a value used to show the dates of new Moons for each year, following a 19-year cycle.

The Moon repeats the dates of its phases approximately every 19 years (the Metonic cycle), and the Golden Number represents a year in that cycle. The year of the cycle can then be used to determine the date of Easter.

To Calculate the Golden Number:

Add 1 to any given year and divide the result by 19, ensuring that you calculate to the nearest whole number; the remainder is the Golden Number. If there is no remainder, the Golden Number is 19.

For example, to calculate the Golden Number for 2020, we take 2020 and add 1, resulting in 2021, then divide it evenly by 19, giving us 106 with a remainder of 7. Therefore, the Golden Number for 2020 is 7, meaning 2020 is the 7th year of the Metonic cycle.

Where Did the Word “Easter” Come From?

Easter, also called Pascha or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Let’s start with Pascha (Latin) which comes directly from Pesach, the Hebrew word for Passover. Going back to the Hebrew Bible and the story of the first Passover, Moses tells the Israelites to slaughter a passover lamb and paint its blood on their door. The Lord protected the Israelites from death by passing over their doors and would not “allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down” (Ex. 12:23).

In the New Testament (1 Corinthians 5:7), Paul connects the resurrected Christ to Passover. He refers to Jesus as the paschal lamb who has been sacrificed for his people’s salvation. Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples during Passover, so it makes sense that the Feast of the Resurrection is connected with the Jewish holiday. Today, Christians celebrate the “Paschal mystery.”

So, where did the word “Easter” come from? The exact origin of the word “Easter” is unclear. It’s not as simple as saying it has religious origins or pagan origins.

Some historians suggest that it came from the phrase hebdomada alba, Latin for “white week,” used to describe the white garments new Christians wore when they were baptized during Holy Week. In Old German, the word became esostarum and, eventually, Easter.

The Venerable Bede, a seventh-century Anglo-Saxon historian also known as Saint Bede, writes that the word Easter comes from the Anglo-Saxon dawn goddess of fertility Eostre, also the goddess of the dawn, who originated in what is now Scandinavia. Over time, early Christians started referring to the Feast of the Resurrection by the name of the month in which it was celebrated—Eosturmonath (what we now call April).

Alternatively, Easter may have from an old German word for “east,” which in turn is derived from a Latin word for “dawn.” In the past, the word easter could mean “to turn toward the east” or “rising” and didn’t necessarily have any implied religious meaning. (Note: It was the Germans who invented the “Easter Bunny” who visited “good” children’s homes, much like they invented Santa Claus.)

Bottom line, no one knows the etymological origins of the word, “Easter.” It is one of the oldest Old English words.

In the end, it is unimportant whether Easter comes from the goddess of the dawn or the Latin word for dawn. In whatever language, Easter today is a Christian holiday to celebrate Christ’s resurrection—and the reminder that death brings life.

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Easter Recipes

Traditional Easter dishes include seasonal produce as well as symbols of spring such as lamb, ham, eggs, asparagus, spring peas, hot cross buns and sweet breads, and a carrot cake.

We have all the traditional Easter recipes and more! Check out our Best Easter Recipes.

Greek Easter Bread (Lambropsomo). Photo by Pasta/Shutterstock.
Greek Easter Bread. Photo by Pasta/Shutterstock.

Happy Easter!

From all the Editors here at The Old Farmer’s Almanac, we wish you a Happy Easter and a joyous spring season!

Source: 

Updated on October 2, 2019

Reader Comments

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in the philippines, prior to

in the philippines, prior to shopping malls and MSM, we celebrated the literal "paschal resurrection". now no one remembers the paschal, just the eggs and the bunny

Easter

I just realized how religious bias seeps into everything. Thanks!

Origin of the Easter Celebration.

Easter is...The Roman spring Goddess, Anna Perenna
Easter is..The Swiss spring Goddess, Artio
Easter is...The Finnish spring Goddess, Beiwen
Easter is...The Celtic spring Goddess,Blodwedd
Easter is...The Celtic spring Goddess, Brigit
Easter is..The Eastern European spring Goddess, Dziewanna
Easter is...The Roman spring Goddess, Flora
Easter is...The Norse spring Goddess. Gefn
Easter is...The west African spring Goddess, Hare Ke
Easter is.. The Greek spring Goddess,Hebe
Easter is...The Celtic spring Goddess, Ostara
Easter is...The Japanese spring Goddess, KonoHana-Sakuya
Easter is... The Greek spring Goddess, Kore
Easter is... The Russian spring Goddess Kostroma
Easter is... The Eastern European spring Goddess, Lada
Easter is... The Roman spring Goddess, Libera
Easter is... The Greek spring Goddess, Maia
Easter is... The Celtic spring Goddess, Olwen
Ester is... The Greek spring Goddess, Persephone
Easter is... The Japanese Spring Goddess, Rafu-Sen
Easter is... The Hindu spring Goddess, Sitae
Easter is... the Germanic Goddess of Spring Eostre
Easter is... The Spring Equinox!!! celebrated around the world.
And Yes, as most all of us were told. And some believe.
Easter is...The Christian God of spring, Jesus
Blessed Be to all and may your Spring be blessed no mater your belief system.

origin of the word Easter

WRONG!

As you should know, all of the Christian holidays were adapted from the Catholic traditions. The Catholics in turn adapted them and the many additional ones they follow from pagan origins. The Catholics were quite fond of their pagan holidays. If you ever wonder why a certain thing was done by them, don't search the Bible. Look into what pagan ritual they came from.

Easter was from the festival of Ishtar, the pagan Middle Eastern goddess of spring and fertility. Hence the traditions of eggs, fake grass, rabbits, etc... All symbols of either spring, fertility, or both.

How could you have gotten this so wrong?

Beginning of Easter

Easter actually began as a pagan festival celebrating spring in the Northern Hemisphere, long before the advent of Christianity. Since pre-historic times, people have celebrated the equinoxes and the solstices as sacred times".
The Spring equinox is a day where the amount of dark and the amount of daylight is exactly identical, so you can tell that you're emerging from winter because the daylight and the dark have come back into balance. People mapped their whole life according to the patterns of nature.
Following the advent of Christianity, the Easter period became associated with the resurrection of Christ. In the first couple of centuries after Jesus's life, feast days in the new Christian church were attached to old pagan festivals. Spring festivals with the theme of new life and relief from the cold of winter became connected explicitly to Jesus having conquered death by being resurrected after the crucifixion.

Easter dishes to celebrate it today .

We should celebrate this great festival through vegetarian foods . Seasonal vegetables are available more and more . Seasonal fruits like , apple , mangoes , guvavas , grapes etc. may be used to prepare good foods & cakes etc. Potatoes ,tomatoes , kherra , bhindee , baigan , neebu , mircha may be used to prepare salty foods for rememberable tastes . Sweet dishes are also good to enjoy this great festival . We should avoid non - veg on this great religious occasion . God bless AMEN . Happy Easter to all .

Church

When you say Church you really are referring to the Catholic Church so why not make it clear?

easter

how many times has easter been on April 21, since 1934

Easter Date

2019 will be the fourth time since 1934 that Easter has been observed on April 21.

Easter and Galileo

Galileo's head was on the block. He made a telescope, and discovered that the Earth was not the center of the universe.
This was heresy to the Church, and he was condemned to death.
They allowed him to live, if he never spoke this heresy again.
But the Church kept his telescope, and used it to help predict EASTER.

Old Farmer's Almanac

Love the info & stories in Almanac. It helps me plant my garden in the right phase of the moon!

server error

was attempting purchase item as s guest,and stuck in limbo "server error"
do u have a phn number for the store so I can call it in?
Thanks

Easter holiday

When I was growing up we celebrated Easter. A few years ago I noticed that our churches changed from celebrating Easter to celebrating Resurrection Sunday. We were told that the
name Easter refers to a pagan holiday. It's hard to change using the word Easter, but I try to remember to say Resurrection Sunday now. We celebrate the holiday the same way, just a name change.

Passover not easter which is a pagan holiday, check it out.

Google 33AD and see what you get. Should this not be the day celebrated every year since it was the actual day of crucifixion. As for me, this is the day that I celebrate PASSOVER. The evening of the 14th days after the spring equinox.

Passover not easter which is a pagan holiday, check it out.

Google 33AD and see what you get. Should this not be the day celebrated every year since it was the actual day of crucifixion. As for me, this is the day that I celebrate PASSOVER. The evening of the 14th days after the spring equinox.

Why do celebrate resurrection instead of the crucifixion

The crucifixion had to be but the Resurrection showed that Jesus had defeated sin, Satan & death. He resurrecte from the dead 7 became alive aagain. This signifies the eternal life believers can have.That's why to me Easter the celebration of His resurrection is what i celebrate

very nicely explained, I

very nicely explained, I personnally appreciate it, Happy Easter to you.

Easter

i hope you guys have a pleasent holiday as well!
And thanks for all the information, God Bless you and yand your family

Easter

Tradition verses what the bible states of how Easter came about, it starts in Exodus with the Passover, and yes, Jesus was raised on a certain date. Tradition fails to dig a little deeper. So what does the easter bunny and eggs have to do with our Lord Jesus Christ, its tradition passed down accepted.

Easter 2019

The Full Moon may be the 20th Mar in the USA, but in Europe it's the 21st. It's 1:42 am in the UK. Since the method of determining Easter was established by the Roman Catholic Church, based in Rome, surely the date used for the Full Moon should be 21st, and Easter Sunday should be the 24th of March, at least in Europe, you can have a different one if you want.
I understand that the algorithm for calculating the Full Moon is not exact, which is why there is this discrepancy, and the location of the Full Moon does not come into it.
The method of calculating Easter Day was meant to prevent if coinciding with the Jewish Passover, and also prevent it from falling on the day of a Full Moon. In fact, both these eventualities can arise.
When Britain was considering changing from the Julian to Gregorian Calendar in 1752, the Royal Society with people like Edmund Halley and Christopher Wren opposed the change (because of its Roman Catholic origin) and suggested that the date of Easter should be determined from astronomical observations, using the actual date of the Full Moon rather than an approximate algorithm.

Easter

Jesus was crucified on a specific date and rose early the morning of the 1st day of the week, so moving the date around because of pagan feast and deity’s seems wrong, you don’t move people’s birthdays or anniversaries or remember those who have passed away on different days, I think the date of Jesus death and resurrection is important!

Jesus' execution occurred

Jesus' execution occurred during the Passover weekend, hence why he was not left on the cross. The date of Passover is set by the lunar cycle. In pre-modern times, setting a specific date for an anniversary, ignoring lunar cycles and equinoxes would be as odd to them as moving the dates are to us. The Easter date tradition is 1900-odd years old. The calendar we currently use was invented only in 1582 and not in use in English North America until 1752. George Washington was born on February 11, 1732. However, after the Calendar Act of 1750 was enacted, the calendar was shifted to cohere more closely to the actual length of the orbit of the Earth around the sun. Thus, George Washington's 20th birthday was February 22, 1752 on the new (Gregorian) calendar.

Easter

Thank you for your comment, the issue is too commonly overlooked. We can give a pagan holiday (holy-day) any name we want, but the truth is, we are celebrating a pagan holiday. Resurrection Sunday is but should not be mixed with the worship of Ishtar.

Date of Easter

The date of Easter isn't moved because of an association with pagan Spring festivals. The pagan festivals are where we get the name, Easter. The pagan Spring festivals became the religious celebration of the resurrection. The date moves because the original date ( when Jesus and his disciples were celebrating Passover, or the Last Supper--same thing ) was calculated according to the moon, as many ancient calendars were. They used months or "moons", and added several days at the end of the year to make the 12 lunar periods match the one solar ( sun ) year of 365 days. The date changes on our modern solar calendar because this is what we know about the date--the first Sunday after the first full moon in Spring.

Easter

Thank you for all the information on Easter and all the comments we are still able to read from years ago on Easter. I have learned a lot about different religions and their celebration practices. So thank you for this education and information.

Easter dates.

Years ago my daddy told me Easter is always the 1st Sunday after the 4th full moon after Christmas. Use to a person could get a free calendar that had all the moon's, holidays, etc listed, from their bank. I checked my calendar every year and my daddy had it correct. It wasn't that I doubted him.....I had to see it for myself. I told this to lots of people and they doubted me.....so I showed them on my calendar.

Tell all about ester

Tell all about ester

symbols

that is a nice picture of the lamb and cross, what is the meaning?

Easter symbols

Hi Victoria, The lamb is a very powerful Easter symbol. In Christianity, the lamb was typically a sacrificial animal. It is an innocent, vulnerable creature. The lamb symbolism appears in the Old Testament several times, and then comes to represents Jesus Christ whose life was sacrificed. When John the Baptist sees Jesus, he exclaims, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” 

 

Easter significance

The lamb signifies multiple things within Christianity.
1. In the Old Testament story of Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt, God commanded they sacrifice a lamb to God and smear its blood on the doorframes of their homes so the destroying angel would spare their firstborn (Exodus ch. 12). This is the origin of the Passover Lamb and feast. According to the Gospels Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross the morning after the Passover feast.
2. The Gospel of John calls Jesus the Lamb of God (John 1:29).
3.Throughout the New Testament Book of Revelation (or the Apocalypse of John) Jesus is also referred to as a lamb.

The cross is the most recognized symbol of Christianity due to its significance within Christian teaching. Jesus was executed by the Romans in Jerusalem the morning after Passover. That's not where the story ends. Jesus claimed he was the Son of God with the frailties of humanity mixed with the holiness of God. After he died, Jesus rose from the dead on his own as proof of who he claimed to be and that he conquered death itself and brought reconciliation between God and humanity for all who pledge to follow after Jesus' teachings.

These events are observed by Christians as (Maundy Thursday (Last Supper and Jesus arrested), Good Friday (Jesus crucified) and Easter Sunday (Jesus emerged from the tomb).

For more information about these events and their significance for humanity I would suggest reading through the Bible books Mark or John, and Romans or 1 John and talking with a leader of a church.

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