While we were eating our delicious dinner last night, a cousin of mine suddenly asked this question: “Why Christmas are on a fixed date while others, such as Easter, are a moveable feast?”. The problem was that as soon as he finished his question, they all suddenly stared at me waiting for the answer. And who can blame them? I mean, i’m an author at I’m A Useless Info Junkie, they all assumed i knew.
But i didn’t and, to be honest, i kinda felt like i let them down. So i decided to look and i know have the answer which i will happily share with you so you don’t ever find yourself in that awkward position.
Let’s check it out. (the article continues after the ad)
IT’S ALL DOWN TO THE CALENDAR
Some feasts, most notably Easter, are moveable while others always fall on the same day because the Church said so in 325 at the First Council of Nicaea. More specifically, the Easter holiday is moveable because it’s based on the lunar calendar (the calendar that’s based upon the cycles of the Moon’s phases). It was decided that Easter should always be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon after March 21. For example, in 2017, the first full moon after March 21, was on April 11 (Tuesday). The first Sunday after April 11 was April 16 and that’s why on that day we celebrated Easter. In 2018, the first full moon after March 21 is on March 31 (Saturday), hence we will celebrate Easter on the following Sunday which, in this case, happens to be the very next day; April 1. As easy as that. But why March 21?
The reason why March 21 is the key date here is because it marks the vernal equinox; the equinox in Spring. On that day, the sub-solar point leaves the Southern hemisphere and crosses the Celestial equator.
But why Christmas is always on December 25th?
Because Christmas (and most other feasts in Christianity) is based on the solar calendar, not lunar calendar. Of course, solar calendar (the calendar indicating the position of the Earth on its revolution around the Sun) does not vary each year and that’s why these feasts always fall on the same day.
It all makes sense now!