Reform of the date of Easter

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Reform of the date of Easter has been proposed several times because the current system for determining the date of Easter is seen as presenting two significant problems:


Fixed date

It has been proposed that the first problem could be resolved by making Easter occur on a fixed date every year, or alternatively on a Sunday within a fixed range of seven dates.[1] While tying it to one fixed date would serve to underline the belief that Easter commemorates an actual historical event, without an accompanying calendar reform it would also break the tradition of Easter always being on a Sunday, established since the 2nd century AD and by now deeply embedded in the liturgical practice and theological understanding of almost all Christian denominations.

The two most widespread proposals for fixing the date of Easter would set it on either the second Sunday in April (8 to 14), or the Sunday after the second Saturday in April (9 to 15). In both schemes, account has been taken of the fact that—in spite of the many difficulties in establishing the dates of the historical events involved—many scholars attribute a high degree of probability to Friday April 7, 30, as the date of the crucifixion of Jesus, which would make April 9 the date of the Resurrection. Many churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, have stated that they have no objection in principle to fixing the date of Easter in this way, but no serious discussions have yet taken place on implementing such a change.

In the late 1920s and 1930s, this idea gained some momentum (along with other calendar reform proposals, such as the World Calendar), and in 1928 a law was passed in the United Kingdom authorising an Order in Council which would fix the date of Easter in that country as the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April.[2] However, this was never implemented. In 1977, some Eastern Orthodox representatives objected to separating the date of Easter from lunar phases.[3]

Unified date

Proposals to resolve the second problem have made greater progress, but they are yet to be adopted.

1923 attempt

An astronomical rule for Easter was proposed by the 1923 synod that also proposed the Revised Julian calendar: Easter was to be the Sunday after the midnight-to-midnight day at the meridian of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (35°13'47.2"E or UT+2h20m55s for the small dome) during which the first full moon after the vernal equinox occurs.[4][5] Although the instant of the full moon must occur after the instant of the vernal equinox, it may occur on the same day. If the full moon occurs on a Sunday, Easter is the following Sunday. This proposed astronomical rule was rejected by all Orthodox churches and was never considered by any Western church.

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