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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Hello, readers, We appreciate

The Editors's picture

Hello, readers, We appreciate the helpful comments! Since there is such variability, we have made some adjustments to our article. Thank you, the OFA editors

I am trying to verify if June

I am trying to verify if June 29, 2013 is good to be married in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada following the Julian Calendar given that June 29 is on Sts Peter and Paul Feast Day per the Gregorian Calendar. Please advise, our church calendars for 2013 are not available. Thank you and Xpucmoc Bockpec.

Even though my family is from

Even though my family is from Russia/Ukraine, I am American-made and American-born. So, I was brought up to celebrate both holidays, such as Easter. All I understand is that Russian holidays follow the week after American holidays. This is what I was told/taught. Anyone feel like enlightening me some more? I haven't learned much and so I am a bit naive. Happy Easter and HRISTOS VOSKRESE! :) Thank you!

Always interesting how Easter

Always interesting how Easter is determined. Being Greek Orthodox our house gets two Easters--one with the baskets and bunnies and ham the other with Holy Week, red eggs and lamb. Best of both!

Pascha (Easter) is celebrated

Pascha (Easter) is celebrated after Passover as Christ celebrated the Passover before his crucifixion. All else has been decided by Church Councils which came after the Apostolic Era was over. The Orthodox tradition is older. A Universal Church Council could regulate this. I might even live to see it!

yes, agreed. but this

yes, agreed. but this doesn't explain 2013 since Passover begins March 26th and Pascha is May 5th.

It is incorrect and

It is incorrect and misleading to classify Julian calendar feasts and dates as Orthodox. There are other churches, such as , e.g. Ukrainian Catholic or Romanian Catholic who also follow this calendar.
It is amazing that in the 21-st century, when there is so much accommodation for even tiny splinter sects and religious groups, this kind of inaccuracy continues to be perpetuated by news services and other sources of supposedly accurate information.

Most Ukrainian

Most Ukrainian Greek/Byzantine CATHOLIC parishes follow the GREGORIAN calendar & celebrate Holy Thursday/Good Friday/Holy Saturday & EASTER on the SAME dates as the Roman Catholic Church. However, these parishes may also celebrate EASTER Sunday a second time, coinciding w/Greek, Russian, Ukrainian, etc. ORTHODOX, for all those die-hard purists who insist on celebrating according to the Julian way. So much for being "In COMMUNION w/ Rome & the Holy Father!... Sigh...

in ukraine, they celebrate

in ukraine, they celebrate according to the julian calendar only

No this is incorrect. ALL

No this is incorrect. ALL Ukrainian catholics of the Byzantine rite follow the Julian calendar not the Gregorian. We are in communion with Rome by virtue of a historical quirk. Liturgically we do not have any overlap with the Latin Rite. Christmas is celebrated as in the Orthodox churches on 07 January and Easter this year with be in May. (UK, Europe and Australasia, at least!!)

Where did you get this from?

Where did you get this from? I follow the Gregorian Calendar here and my Ukrainian Catholic friends in Canada follow the Gregorian Calendar, and so do my Ukrainian Catholic friends in Australia.

Sorry Maria, I am an

Sorry Maria,
I am an Australian born Ukrainian, strongly brought up in the Ukrainian culture and traditions by my migrant parents.
We have always - and still do - follow the Julian calendar here in Australia.

Often individual Orthodox

Often individual Orthodox families will decide to celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25th if they live in a country where the majority celebrate on the 25th. However, most of those families also celebrate or honor January 7th as Christmas based on their religion.
So for some Christian Orthodox families they will celebrate on the 25th by exchanging gifts and a family get together in response to the larger culture they live in. And then they will celebrate their religions Christmas observance on Jan. 7th, but this celebration is typically done in more religious somber fashion by gathering the family together for a feast. There is very little to no gift exchange, as that is done during the Dec. 25th celebration.
This is what my family and many many other Eastern Orthodox families do who live in western countries dominated by western Christian faiths, which are mainly Catholic and Protestant, and the all the other faiths the stem from Protestantism.
This is common in the USA and some places in Canada that have larger Eastern Orthodox populations.
So there can be faith based and cultural based celebrations of Christmas, especially in countries that have more forgiving notions about separating religion from the greater general culture.

Being "in communion" does not

Being "in communion" does not mean a hostile takeover, nor is it a merger (to use commercial speak). Rome does not interfere with liturgical traditions or obserances. It is a real shame you do not have a grasp of this. We are different and I would walk and join the Orthodox Church is any attempt was ever made to waterdown my beliefs and practises by Rome.

dye-hard purists? Obviously,

dye-hard purists? Obviously, this shows the amount of respect you have for other traditions, never mind the Roman Catholic centrisity.

Actually, it's not

Actually, it's not coincidence but Orthodox typology. The type always precedes the fulfillment, so Passover always precedes Pascha among the Orthodox.

Thanks guys! Now I better

Thanks guys! Now I better understand how and when Easter falls. I followed the directions on how to find the Golden Number. I got April 12 as Easter Sunday for the year 2020.

My remaining number was April

My remaining number was April 7, 2020. This is fun. I will check again.

Actually, it is merely

Actually, it is merely coincidence that the Orthodox Pascha always follows Passover. The current formula for calculating Easter was imposed after the early Church debate over Quartodecimenism, which celebrated the Pascha according to the Hebrew calendar. The basic problem was that with Quartodecimenism Easter could fall on any day of the week. Outside the Middle East, (as in Rome and North Africa)people were more disposed to keep Easter on Sunday because the original event was on Sunday. So a Council decreed the current formula. However, when Pope Gregory revised the calendar, the Orthodox churches refused to change their church kalendars, hence, their continued use of the Julian calendar. It is merely coincidence that for the last few centuries Orthodx Pashca always follows Passover; it was not so when the rule was first implemented. Another complication is the use of church kalendar data instead of accurate astronomical calendar data. The rule says that Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon following the vernal equinox, but when I was a young man I was surprised one year to discover that Western Easter was celebrated a week later than the full moon as noted in the OFA. This, it turns out, was because of the calculations for the date of the full moon of the church kalendar, which is not astronomically accurate. Sorry, I can't remember the year.

_Astronomical Algorithms_ by

_Astronomical Algorithms_ by Jean Meeus lists the following years between 1900 & 2100 when the Gregorian Easter differs from "the purely astronomical rule": 1900, '03, '23, '24, '27, '43, '54, '62, '67, '74, 1981, 2038, '49, '69, '76, '89, '95, 2096. So we seem to be near the middle of an 'accurate patch'. The most frequent date is April 19.

Meeus also mentions that the dates of Julian Easter, according to the Julian (Old Style) calendar, repeat every 532 years. During that time the discrepancy between the Julian and Gregorian calendars increases by three to five days.

Not all Eastern churches

Not all Eastern churches follow the Julian calendar. My church, the Orthodox Church of America (OCA) follows the Western calendar and yet Easter is the same. That is because Easter is based on an event and not a date and yes, the event includes Passover having commenced.

The Eastern Orthodox also

The Eastern Orthodox also require that Easter follow Passover, so when Passover occurs late in the season, Pascha (Orthodox Easter) will occur in late April or early May, as in 2013.

In the Eastern Orthodox, if

In the Eastern Orthodox, if the first full moon after the vernal equinox is a Sunday, Pascha (Eastern Orthodox Easter) will be the following Sunday. Also, the Greek Orthodox is the only Eastern Orthodox denomination whose Church calendar follows the Gregorian calendar for the entire Church year EXCEPT that cannonically all Eastern Orthodox Churches "must" celebrate Easter on the same day. Therefore, the Greek Orthodox Church calendar switches from following Gregorian to following Julian and then back to Gregorian. For example, Greek Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on Dec. 25 (Gregorian) vs. all other Eastern Orthodox denominations' Christmas which is celebrated on Jan. 7 (Julian); since Jan. 7 is the Julian equivalent of Gregorian Dec. 25. That's why some years the Greek Orthodox Church has to move when it celebrates St. George's Day (April 25) [Gregorian] until after Easter if Easter falls before St. George's Day! Whew!

Correct except that St.

Correct except that St. George's day is celebrated after Pascha if Easter falls AFTER St. George's day...

St. George is on April 23 not

St. George is on April 23 not 25.

April 25 is the Feast Day of

April 25 is the Feast Day of St Mark the Evangelist, one of the writers of the New Testament Gospels.

St. George is May 1st.

St. George is May 1st.

The Greeks are great

The Greeks are great philosophers and discuss every point to minutia. i am puzzled why nott one thinking Greek Orthodox questions the inconsistency in setting Christmas according to one calendar and Easter according to another?

Because you're confusing the

Because you're confusing the ancient Polytheist Hellenistic "Greeks" with modern Christian Greeks.

The honor of logic and philosophy belongs to the Hellenistic people, not the modern Greeks. The word "Greek" has become synonymous with the Ancient Hellenes, but that's due to a lack of understanding history.
I believe that the use of the word "Greek" should only be used to describe modern Greeks and should not be confused with the ancient people of the region.
The ancient hellenes called themselves by the city state they lived or were from.
So, if you lived in Sparta you were a Spartan. If you were from Athens you were Athenian.
The modern word "Greek" is a much later construct, and has wrongly been used to include the ancient Hellenes.
It's now in common use, but there is a distinction with a difference, because the Hellenistic people did not call themselves "Greeks". Modern Greeks want this modern use of the word 'Greek' to also include the ancients as they want to be associated with that great culture. Remember the father in the movie "My big fat Greek wedding" and he believed everything comes from Greek?When in fact he was associating himself, a modern Greek, with the ancient Hellenistic culture that has major influence over modern western society. Many modern Greeks try to maneuver and explain that the modern word "Greek" comes from an the ancient word "Graeki", which is actually pronounced with the letter "G" as a "Y" sound like in "Yard". But, the word "Graeki" is an ancient Latin word used to describe all the people in the Hellene land. The ancient "Greeks" were not like modern Greeks even to the extent that they were Polytheists. Modern Greeks are Christians.

Differences between Orthodox and Western dates

The Greek Orthodox celebrate Xmas on December 25th as per Gregorian calendar. However, for Easter we go by the Book. "after the Passover of the Jews" it has nothing to do with the either calendars.but with literal translation of the Bible.