If you’re wondering when Easter falls this year, you’re definitely not alone. Often described as a “movable feast,” this festive holiday can sometimes sneak up on us when we least expect it — and can occasionally seem super far away as we anticipate its arrival.
When is Easter in 2019?
According to The Farmer’s Almanac, Easter will be celebrated this year on Sunday, April 21. It’s important to note, however, that this date refers to Christian churches that use the Gregorian calendar. Certain Christian churches — including many Eastern Orthodox churches — use a different calendar called the Julian calendar. And this year, Orthodox Easter happens to fall on Sunday, April 28. If you aren’t sure which calendar your church follows, always double-check. You certainly don’t want to miss out on the occasion!
Many folks who celebrate this joyous holiday may be curious about why the date of Easter changes every year. After all, many holidays commonly celebrated in the United States — such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day — have fixed dates no matter what year it is. As it turns out, Easter’s movable date has something to do with traditions of Christian churches, and also something to do with the… moon?
Yes! According to Scientific American, Easter is traditionally celebrated on the Sunday after the first full moon of spring — also known as the Paschal Full Moon — in accordance with the rules of the Gregorian calendar. If this full moon happens to occur on a Sunday, then Easter will be the Sunday after that one. However, it gets a bit confusing when you realize these same rules also state that the vernal equinox is fixed on March 21. In actuality, this isn’t always the case each year (for instance, the vernal equinox happens on March 20 this year).
It gets further confusing when you consider that “astronomical” full moons (based on astronomical calculations) don’t always coincide with “ecclesiastical” full moons (based on ecclesiastical tables). But don’t worry: You don’t need to stare at the night sky or any complicated calculations to get an idea of when Easter will fall.
According to The History Channel, Easter always falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25 while the tradition of the Gregorian calendar is still in place. (You might notice that this is placed directly after the Gregorian date of the vernal equinox, March 21.) As for the churches that specifically follow the Julian calendar instead, Easter always happens on a Sunday between April 4 and May 8.
Most churches out there make a conscious effort to publicize the specific date of the holiday each year, especially if they’re doing something special to celebrate. Remember: If you’re ever not sure, just ask.
Now that you know when Easter falls this year, it’s time to start hopping to prepare!