Monday, February 8, 2016

Setting Easter

I mentioned in the sermon yesterday that I would let you know how Easter is set every year. When they get ready to print up the new calendar, they put March and April on a dart board, then they toss darts at the months to see which date will be Easter the next year. It takes a minimum of 3 darts out of 5 to set the date for Easter.

OK, that isn't how it is done. But you have to admit, it would make life interesting. The way it actually works is that a group of old guys sit around a table and write dates on a piece of paper and then pass it to the secretary. Once they get a majority for a month, then they begin to work on the date. They whittle it down until they finally all agree on one certain date in that month. Then the when they finally all settle on a date, they burn the papers in a special stove that is just for that purpose. When the smoke is white, then Easter has been set.

What? You don't believe that one either? All right. Here is the real way it happens.

Think spring. (When it is winter, we all want to think spring.) Spring begins on the vernal equinox which is March 21, or March 20 if it is a Leap Year like 2016. Then, after the equinox, you wait for the next full moon. Once you have a full moon after the spring equinox, then the very next Sunday is Easter. Yep, that is really how it is done.

This is how 2016 falls. The spring equinox falls on March 20, Sunday. (Try to stand an egg on its end on that day. Fun times.) So then the next full moon happens on Wednesday, March 23. So once that takes place, BAM, you have the next Sunday as Easter, March 27.

Why is it set that way? Think Passover. Jesus was a good Jewish boy. He would have celebrated the Passover each year. Do you remember why He was riding the donkey into Jerusalem? He was heading into the city to celebrate Passover. The disciples asked Him on Thursday, "Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal?" It was Passover when Jesus was crucified, died and was buried. That Sunday, the 1st day of the week, was the beginning of the week after Passover.

And that, my friends, is the how Easter is set each year and why it fluctuates so much. If the full moon comes right before the equinox, you have to wait another 28 or fewer days for the next full moon. Then you have a late Easter.

So now you know.

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