Tag Archives: Vernal Equinox

Why Does the Date of Easter Change?

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Easter

Although Easter is a most important day of the year in many religions, most people do not understand why the date of Easter changes from year to year or how the date is determined. We all know that we can count on Easter to fall on a Sunday sometime in late March through sometime in April, but how the particular Sunday of Easter in any particular year is determined has been an on-going mystery for many people.

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Religions that follow the Gregorian calendar, like here in the United States, celebrate Easter on the first Sunday following the Vernal Equinox after the occurrence of a full moon. I will attempt to simplify that explanation. The Vernal Equinox, also known as the First Day of Spring, generally falls on March 21st. Next you must follow the cycles of the moon to know when the next full moon will occur after the Vernal Equinox has occurred. Once the full moon has occurred, Easter will be set on the very next Sunday immediately following. Therefore, Easter will never occur earlier than March 22nd, the day after the Vernal Equinox IF it also happens to be on a Saturday with a full moon, or any later than April 25th.

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So, that is how the floating feast of Easter is calculated from year to year. If you are still thoroughly confused, you can always continue to rely on a calendar to let you know on which Sunday in March or April Easter will be celebrated on!

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Welcome Spring 2016!

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1stDayofSpring2016

Today is the day of the Vernal Equinox, which means it is the official first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Conversely, it marks the official first day of Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. In astronomical terms, the Vernal Equinox marks the time when the axis of our planet increases its bend towards the Sun. In the Northern Hemisphere this causes the days to have longer daylight hours and the temperatures to grow warmer.

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Spring has always been a welcomed sign of renewal. The grass begins to become greener, the trees bud new leaves and flowers spring up from the ground and bloom. The birds are hatching eggs and all kinds of animals are giving birth to their young.

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This year, Spring has a very special significance. In 2016, Spring is arriving earlier than usual! Normally, Spring arrives on March 21, but this year it arrives a whole day earlier! As a result this is the earliest Spring has arrived in 120 years, since 1896! Therefore, it is safe to say that no one alive today has seen Spring arrive a whole day earlier than usual.

BabyChick

This special circumstance of an earlier than usual Spring has to do with the fact that 2016 is a leap year and how our Gregorian calendar works. I explained the precise workings of the Gregorian calendar and leap day in depth, in my recent blog post “What Is Leap Day & This Day in History”.

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Now that you are versed with this unusual fact about the early arrival of the first day of Spring (or Autumn for those in the Southern Hemisphere) go out and dazzle your friends and family with your brilliance! 😉

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