When Is Easter 2021? | How Easter's Date is Determined

Why Does The Date of Easter Change Every Year?

March 4, 2021
Easter Bunny & Flowers - OFA Message

Easter 2021 will be observed on Sunday, April 4! Easter is a “movable feast” that is always held on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25. Do you know how the exact date of Easter is determined? Find out why the date changes every year and how this holiday relates to the first full Moon of spring.

When Is Easter 2021?

This year, Easter will be observed on Sunday, April 4. (Eastern Orthodox Easter will take place on Sunday, May 2.) This Easter is just one week after March’s full Moon (Sunday, March 28), which is the first full Moon to occur after the spring equinox (March 20, 2021) and is therefore known in the Christian calendar as the “Paschal Full Moon.”

What Is the Most Common Easter Date?

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. 

Over a 500-year period (from 1600 to 2099 AD), it just so happens that Easter will have most often been celebrated on either March 31 or April 16.

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.

Easter Dates

Year Easter Sunday
(Gregorian calendar)

Eastern Orthodox Church
(Julian calendar)

2021 April 4 May 2
2022 April 17 April 24
2023 April 9 April 16

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 read!

Let’s break it down: In 2021, the spring equinox happens on Saturday, March 20. The first full Moon to occur after that date rises on Sunday, March 28. Therefore, Easter will be observed on the subsequent Sunday, which is Sunday, April 4. 

In Christian 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 date changes over time and is actually getting earlier.

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, in 2019, Easter was held on Sunday, April 21, after the full Moon on Friday, April 19.


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 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 to calculate the date 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.


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 2021, we take 2021 and add 1, resulting in 2022, then divide it evenly by 19, giving us 106 with a remainder of 8. Therefore, the Golden Number for 2021 is 8, meaning 2021 is the 8th year of the Metonic cycle.

What Is Easter?

Easter is the most important feast day in 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.

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.

Our Favorite 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 Favorite 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!


Reader Comments

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The Passover lamb was not a

The Passover lamb was not a sin offering in Judaism.

So, if I want to function in

So, if I want to function in the American culture, which Easter date do I follow?

In America Easter and other

In America, Easter and other religious holidays are always figured using the Gregorian calendar.

Easter in Ukraine is

Easter in Ukraine is celebrated on the 5th May 2013 as is in the UK. Ukrainians 1st/2nd/3rd Generation born are Greek Catholics, therefore follow the Julian calendar for both Chrsitmas and Easter. Xpucmoc Bockpec to fellow Ukrainians around the world!

I'll type it phonetically, we

I'll type it phonetically, we pronounce it
sreh-ken, boh-sheik.
You have to pronounce the verbs in the "short" sound, "boh" is not like "bow", not so much "oh" sound, shorter than that.
And "sheik" should have a bit of "z" sound to the "s".

Literal translation means, "Lucky Easter".
It's a term that is used like "Happy Easter" or "Merry Christmas" that people say to each other during the holiday.

BTW, in the Orthodox slavic/Russian language we don't use the word "Easter", it's more like above "boh-sheik".
Interestingly in Italian is "buona pasqua".

Here's how to say "Happy Easter" in 10 other languages:
French Joyeuses Pâques
German Frohe Ostern
Italian Buona Pasqua
Spanish ¡Felices Pascuas!
Dutch Vrolijk Pasen
Polish Szczęśliwej Wielkanocy!
Danish God påske
Portuguese Feliz Páscoa
Catalan Bona Pasqua
Romanian Paşte Fericit

Notice the German version, Frohe Ostern.
And you see where the English/American "Easter" comes from as German has a major influence on English.
And, you also see "Ostern" as related to the northern Europe Saxon goddess
Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre).

The modern world is woven
from ancient threads.
It can not exist without them.
That's why we need to know what those threads are and where they come from in order to know ourselves.

Thank you for this posting,

Thank you for this posting, it is really informative. But the last 5 verses are just awesome. I am not sure if they are someone else's creation that you are quoting, or you created them.... simple poetry and oh so true - in perpetuity. My, nice !

Good to know!

Thank you for posting the information about Easter greetings from around the world!

Easter is "Pasqua" or "Pascua

Easter is "Pasqua" or "Pascua" in all languages close to Greek; only Germanic based language call it "Easter". Same with "God", all others call it "Dios" (Spanish), "Dio" (Italian), "Dieu" (French) or "Deus" (Portuguese) from the Greek "Theos".

Its fun to know how

It's fun to know how pascha (Easter) is determined. I have learnt a lot. For us in Uganda, we use Gregorian calendar. Thank you!

Romanian orthodox and

Romanian orthodox and Romanian greek catholic celebrate Easter on 5 may. Only roman-catholics celebrate Easter on 31 march.


Correction, the Greek Eastern Catholic Church celebrate Easter Sunday on the same day as the Roman Catholic Church.
The Orthodox Church follows different system.

Why is the calendar going

Why is the calendar going backwards instead of forward if Easter was on April 8, 2012 than that would mean that Easter would be April 16, 2013, instead of March 31, 2013???????

I'm confused. The nominal

I'm confused. The nominal (not astronomical) Julian equinox is Julian March 21, which is Gregorian April 3. Then the full moon after that is Gregorian April 25 and the Sunday after that is April 28. Where does the extra week come from? What am I missing?

Why isn't Easter celebrated

Why isn't Easter celebrated on the 19th day of the month of Nissan. Which would be four days after the start of Pesach?

In 2013, the 19th day of the

The Editors's picture

In 2013, the 19th day of the month of Nissan translates in the Gregorian calendar to Saturday, March 30.

According to the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325), Easter must occur on the first Sunday after the paschal full Moon, which is the first full Moon after the vernal equinox. The full Moon and equinox dates are calculated, not actual. The vernal equinox for the purpose of calculating the date of Easter is always set to March 21. The paschal full Moon is also a tabulated date; it may not match the exact date of the astronomical full Moon--a difference of a day or so.

On occasion, such as happened in 2008, Pesach will fall after Easter, rather than before. This is due in part to calculation differences between the Hebrew lunisolar calendar and the Gregorian solar calendar.

Can Easter ever occur on

Can Easter ever occur on April 1, April Fools's Day?

Yes; this applies to

The Editors's picture

Yes; this applies to calculations for Easter using either the Gregorian and Julian calendars. But, it does not apply to Julian calendar dates converted to Gregorian calendar dates.

In many Western Christian denominations that use the Gregorian calendar, for example, Easter can fall as early as March 22 and as late as April 25. It has fallen on April 1 a few times, the last being in 1956. It will occur again on that date in 2018.

According to the Julian calendar, the last Orthodox Easter on April 1, for example, was in 1996. The next will be in 2058. However, when these dates are converted to the Gregorian calendar, Orthodox Easter falls on April 14 for these years.

Note that when converted to Gregorian calendar dates from the Julian calendar dates, Orthodox Easter can not fall earlier than April 3.

Actually, Easter Orthodox

Actually, Easter Orthodox Easter cannot fall earlier than the Gregorian date of April 4, because the Gregorian date of April 3 corresponds to Julian calendar March 21, and Orthodox Easter falls on the first Sunday that occurs AFTER the paschal moon occurring on or after Julian March 21. (This is similar to Western Easter never occurring before March 22 Gregorian.)

Yes, easter can fall on April

Yes, easter can fall on April 1. According to the gregorian calender,easter for 2018 will fall on April 1.

It is perfectly OK with me if

It is perfectly OK with me if you give coverage to Easter next week. I ask only that you also give coverage to Pascha (Russian, Orthodox, Eastern European) --- which will occur on 5/5/2013 this year. Isn't it nice that we orthodox Christians get such nice sale prices for our Easter Lilys and Easter candy) Not that candy and flowers are the purpose of this most important religious feast.

Easter has nothing to do with

Easter has nothing to do with Passover. Passover 2013 is 25th-26th, Easter is 31st. Therefore, Easter cannot be the day of the resurrection. Easter (Is-thar) is a Babylonian deity and the holiday is a pagan practice.

I agree completely, and

I agree completely, and Passover is properly calculated using the original Calendar. The Luni-Solar calendar based on each month starting with the New Moon. Passover is always the 14 day of the month. Sabbath's are always the 8th 15th 22th and 29th.
There was no Julian or Gregory so their fictitious calendar's had not been "invented" yet.

Esther. Is there any chance

Esther. Is there any chance that we over look the fact that Queen Esther who was Jewish, who married King Ahasurus? of Persia, may have the significance of Purim, associated with "Easter".
Accordingly, Purim is celebrated, in commemoration either the 1 st of the month of March, in like manner, honoring and establihing a holiday for the rememberance, and commemoration of the exodus the childewn of Israel out of Egypt, and celebrating the Joyous exoneration of the decree in Persia to set the Jewish people free of hostilities. Purim celebrates the, cleansing, newness of life the rebirth and Sacred Holiness of God's Provision, Intervention and love for His Holy People. I keep thinking in my mind that Esther, rather, that anything else brings into mind like the "Passover" the next Holiday after Passover commemorating the Manna from Heaven-God's provision, would be a day like unto "Purim" in which we see God's provision, manifestation and Intervention, which is the Resurrection of His Holy Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the Messiah, on a Holy day like unto the rebirth, cleansing and Sacred Holiness of God's Provision of Manna from Heaven in the Resurrection of His Only Holy Begotten Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I feel Esther truly is associated with Easter fro the reasons mentioned above.

While it is interesting to associate and try to assimilate different faiths it is not appropriate to disregard time lines and sequence of events of Scripture. The Story of the Jewish people shows a time line of events
and unparallelled history; and remembrance of events was celebrated by establishing Holidays. such as Passover, then hundreds of years later, Purim. Easter, celebrates the continuing timeline of the Resurrection.
The story seems to say first separate from "Egypt" a worldly place of sin, Passover- sacrificial lamb, then Purim- consecrate one self in Holiness and righteousness to the Lord, and Resurrect- Re borne, rise again with a new life, with the Life of Christ within you.

Thank you for broadening my

Thank you for broadening my historical facts of easter it was informative

NO, Easter itself is not

NO, Easter itself is not pagan. It is a Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. That is what Easter is for Christians.
However, as far as how it became known as "Easter", along with many other practices of Easter, this does have quit a bit of basis in ancient Pagan faiths.
The word "Easter" comes from Eostre (a.k.a. Eastre). She was the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe.
This goddess was also part of other similar deities like the "Teutonic dawn goddess of fertility [was] known variously as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos." Her name was derived from the ancient word for spring: "eastre." Also, throughout other ancient cultures there were similar deities celebrating birth and renewal and Istar, from Assyria was one of them, along with others such as Astarte from ancient Greece,
Ashtoreth from ancient Isreal, Kali from Indian, and others.
Here is an alternate basis or origin of the word "Easter" that can be found on the internet:
"An alternative explanation has been suggested. The name given by the Frankish church to Jesus' resurrection festival included the Latin word "alba" which means "white." (This was a reference to the white robes that were worn during the festival.) "Alba" also has a second meaning: "sunrise." When the name of the festival was translated into German, the "sunrise" meaning was selected in error. This became "ostern" in German. Ostern has been proposed as the origin of the word "Easter"."

Then we have the developing and power growing early Christian church wanting to Christianize "Pagan" people mostly in Europe. This leads to the Christian church using symbolism from the Pagan's beliefs to influence the Pagans into accepting Christianity, and the Church created the celebrations around the celebrations the Pagans already had during springtime to honor their deities named above.
So in essence the Easter celebration was a mixing of Christian beliefs and Pagan celebrations, in order to bring Pagan's into Christianity.
This works because these Pagan celebrations are about renewal, revival, and the rebirth of life at the coming of spring after the "death" brought on by winter.
The symbolism follows closely with the story of Jesus, his death (winter), and subsequent rebirth and revival (spring).
Some say the Christian story and the Pagan stories about their deities influenced each other.

The story of Ishtar is eye opening as you can easily see many things about Ishtar and the stories that clearly parallel Jesus, the Trinity, and other things like the the cycle of the moon, which as we know is how the day for Easter is calculated.
The story also reveals a "40 day" time of mourning and sarrow, and how "no meat" was to be eaten during this period, just like the fasting before Easter.
Then there is Oester a great northern goddess who's symbol is the rabbit!

It's interesting to realize that Jesus's death and resurrection is NOT celebrated in the Bible as "Easter", and there is no description of an Easter celebration nor how to celebrate or anything.

The acceptance/belief in the resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone of Christian faith.
Wanting to then celebrate that momentous event is why Easter was created. And it was created by taking things from various Pagan traditions to construct a holiday "HOLY DAY" that have become Christian traditions, down to even the name, "Easter".

Still, I do not accept the Easter is a Pagan holiday, because it does not celebrate a Pagan event. Yet, I do understand how and why Pagan traditions and imagery were adopted and adapted in order to create a celebration to honor and remember the death and resurrection of Jesus, and it is due to those adoptions and adaptations that led Pagans toward and into Christianity.
Easter as risen. Truly it has risen. :)

There is hardly any

There is hardly any difference with Ishtar and Ostare. These are the same. Ishtar eggs....Quick like a rabbit....are but just a few rituals done for these fake goddesses.

Messiah's resurrection is Passover.

Pascal is the word in the manuscript, from the Greek, mistranslated. The word Pascal means Passover never Easter.


I agree with YHVH's servant's comment. It seems clear to me when Christ was crucified it was during Passover. God says our way is set by the solar calendar, not lunar. Lunar is associated with Satan. Our family celebrates 15 days after the Solar first day of Spring. I don't think it is evil to celebrate on the date the Christian churches celebrate. To me it is a personal choice and I will not judge others. I personally see no connection to fertility and Christ's resurrection.

God's time keeping is luni-solar

You wrote "God says our way is set by the solar calendar, not lunar. Lunar is associated with Satan." Having read the Bible straight through three times this year I have found no such verses. Rather the bible shows that God's feasts are based on luni-solar - months by moon and number of months in a year by the sun (barley harvest). Here are some verses you may have overlooked:
2Ki_4:23  And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well.
Psa_81:3  Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.
Isa_66:23  And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.
Eze_46:1  Thus saith the Lord GOD; The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the sabbath it shall be opened, and in the day of the new moon it shall be opened.
Eze_46:6  And in the day of the new moon it shall be a young bullock without blemish, and six lambs, and a ram: they shall be without blemish.
Amo_8:5  Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?
Col_2:16  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Clearly the new moon was a holy day and is also the beginning of the month as God keeps time. The feasts days are the number of days into the month as shown in scripture:
Exo_12:18  In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.
The Bible does not teach worship of Sunday according to the Gregorian calendar system. God's feasts days are according to the day of the month, not according to a pagan repeating week system.

Actually, Easter's date has

Actually, Easter's date has everything to do with Passover. The last supper was, in fact, the Passover Seder. The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar. Easter Sunday is ALWAYS the Sunday closest to the Passover Seder. That is also why much of the story of the Jewish courts and elders meeting that night for business is in question with Jewish scholars.

God's calendar

You are close, but more properly God's calendar for calculating dates of his feast are what is called luni-solar - based on both the moon and the sun. The month (moonth) is based on the moon, and how many months in a year is determined by the sun.