How is the date of Easter calculated? We read in the Gospels that the Friday on which Christ was crucified was the day before the Jews celebrated Passover – whose date followed a very complicated pattern – you can have fun trying to work it out from: https://www.wired.com/2012/04/an-equation-for-passover/ . In the year 325 CE, the Council of Nicaea tried to simplify the calculation and established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first Full Moon occurring on or after the Spring or Vernal Equinox. Still pretty complicated, you may well think! From that point forward, the Vernal Equinox was assumed to take place on 21st March, though in reality it could very slightly. The date of Easter can therefore vary by up to a month, depending of the date of the full moon, but, unlike Christmas, it is always on a Sunday. Some of the symbolism of the festival of Passover continues in the Christian tradition, where, for example, Christ is seen as the sacrificial lamb. Many people eat lamb on Easter Sunday. You can find out more about Passover at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover_sacrifice . One of the titles given to Jesus is Lamb of God, and in many paintings and stained-glass windows we see the Christ child and a lamb together. You may even know a pub called the ‘Lamb and Flag’!
We can see that the feast of Easter harks back to very ancient traditions: Spring festivities of various sorts, and the ritual sacrifice of a lamb dating back to when the people of Israel succeeded in escaping from Egypt’s Pharaoh, as told in the Book of Exodus (12:1-28).
Why does Lent last forty days? The term ‘forty days’ or ‘forty days and nights’ is found many times in the Old Testament, often implying simply ‘a long time’ For Christians it developed a particular association with the concept of ‘a time of preparation’. Christ was tempted for forty days in the wilderness before starting on his public ministry; there were forty days between Christ’s resurrection and his Ascension. You can find out more about this at: https://www.gotquestions.org/40-days-Bible.html
A short prayer for this week:
Lord Jesus, we remember that you were tempted as we are, but stayed on the path of God’s love. Help us to do the same when we feel challenged. Amen.