Easter date

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sundays in Gregor. and in
jul. calendar
year Western
2017 April 16
2018 April 1st April 8th
2019 April 21 April 28
2020 12. April April 19th
2021 4. April 2.May
2022 17th April April 24th
2023 9th April April 16
2024 March 31 5th of May
2025 20th of April
2026 April 5th 12. April
2027 28th March 2.May
2028 April 16
2029 April 1st April 8th
2030 April 21 April 28
2031 April 13th
2032 28th March 2.May
2033 17th April April 24th
2034 9th April
2035 25th March April 29
2036 April 13th 20th of April
2037 April 5th

The Easter date is the date of Easter in the church year . As a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, Easter is the most important and oldest festival for Christians . According to New Testament tradition, the resurrection of Christ occurred at the time of the Jewish Passover, which is dependent on the spring full moon . As the exact day is not known, not held its celebration on a weekday and changing the basic dating in further from the Jews used Lunisolar Calendarshould not appear, at the Council of Nicaea in 325 (the Christians meanwhile used the Julian solar calendar ) the following determination was made: Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon in spring .

Both at the beginning of spring and at the full moon, only the day of the event is taken into account (hour, minute, ... are not taken into account). Even the day on which the astronomical event takes place is not counted exactly.

March 21 was generally set as the beginning of spring. This is a simplification insofar as the astronomical beginning of spring (see equinox ) does not always take place on the same calendar day , but on various occasions on March 20 or 19. To simplify matters, the full moon days are used in a cyclical series of 19 specific calendar days based on the Meton cycle . Among these, March 21st is the earliest full moon day. If it falls on a Saturday, March 22nd is the earliest Easter Sunday. The last of the 19 cyclical full moon days is April 19 (Gregorian calendar), and the last Easter Sunday is April 25.

Almost all other movable holidays in the church year are based on the date of Easter .


The calendar day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ

Easter is celebrated in memory of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the time of his crucifixion and resurrection in Jerusalem , Judaism had a lunisolar festival calendar according to biblically founded rules, which also remained authoritative for Christians with regard to Easter. Christianity later adopted the solar system of the Julian calendar , while the rules of the Jewish calendar in the 4th century. were systematically established under Patriarch Hillel II .

The Bible as a source for the calendar day of the resurrection of Jesus Christ

The point of reference for the transfer of dates from the Jewish lunisolar calendar system to the solar Julian or Gregorian calendar is the Jewish Passover , near which, according to New Testament evidence, the crucifixion of Jesus took place. Passover always lasts from the 15th to the 22nd day of the month of Nisan . The 14th Nisan is called Erev Pessach in Hebrew in Judaism or the day of preparation for Passover and is used to prepare for the festival.

Biblical tradition is fairly clear about the last days of Jesus' life. The Passion and Easter reports of the Gospels are authoritative , with the Gospel of John providing the most historically accurate representation. The four Gospels unanimously report that the crucifixion took place on the day of preparation for the Sabbath ( Mk 15.42  EU ). According to the Gospel of John, the day of Jesus' death was both the day of preparation for a Sabbath ( John 19.31  EU ) and the day of preparation for Passover ( John 19.14  EU ), which falls on the 14th Nisan . The Synoptic Gospels identify the Last Supper as a Seder meal at the beginning of the Passover festival, from which it also follows that the crucifixion took place on the afternoon before the Passover festival, i.e. on Nisan 14  ( Mk 14.12  EU ). According to all Gospels, the body of Jesus was buried before the beginning of the Sabbath ( Jn 19 : 31–42  EU ). The sabbath was peaceful. The resurrection occurred “on the third day” ( 1 Cor 15.4  EU ) counting from the crucifixion. Regardless of the apparently contradicting information, the sequence of events is presented uniformly: last meal on a Thursday evening ( Maundy Thursday ), crucifixion and death on a Friday ( Good Friday ), rest of the grave on the following Saturday (Sabbath, Holy Saturday ) and resurrection on the following Sunday ( Easter Sunday ).

Christianity reckoned early on with the 14th Nisan (see Quartodecimans ) as the day of the crucifixion and the 16th Nisan as the day of Christ's resurrection. Modern historians also consider these dates to be the most likely because the activities of the Jewish authorities reported by the Synoptics on a 15th Nisan as a major holiday are implausible.

The lunisolar Jewish calendar is therefore fixed dates in the calendar year. In the solar Julian calendar, this results in variable dates over a period of more than four weeks, the determination of which as a so-called Easter calculation requires some effort.

From the Jewish Passover to the spring full moon

In addition to the early Jerusalem community , the missionary activity soon resulted in larger Christian communities outside Jerusalem and Palestine , which were cut off from the Jewish high council from proclaiming the beginning of the months . After the destruction of the second temple , the dispersal of the Jews began, so that soon all Christians had to keep an eye on the calendar themselves. One remembered the construction of the lunisolar Jewish festival calendar, in particular that the 14th Nisan (in years with a leap month the 14th Adar II) is identical to the day of the first full moon since the beginning of spring and observed and used these two days for determination of the date of Easter. Today the historical and, in relation to the moon, indirect reference to the corresponding day in the Jewish calendar has generally been forgotten.

Date of Easter in the first centuries

Finding the 14th Nisan by establishing the new light of the moon as the 1st Nisan worked quite well and badly during the first centuries. Not only was there a lack of an authority responsible for defining the calendar for all Jews - and thus also for the first Christians - there was also no uniform conception within Christians about which events should be commemorated in the last days of Jesus. The Quartodecimans (mainly living in Asia Minor) took the day of the crucifixion as an occasion and celebrated Easter parallel to Passover always on the 14th of Nisan, regardless of the day of the week. The proto-fascists (based in Syria, Mesopotamia and part of Cilicia ) celebrated the Sunday after Passover. Since the Jewish calendar calculation does not strictly observe the spring equinox, the protopaschists often set Easter a month earlier than the other Christians.

The Council of Nicaea

The First Council of Nicaea in 325 gave a uniform regulation . The exact wording of the resolution has not been preserved, but a letter from Emperor Constantine indicates that Easter is to be celebrated according to the council:

  • after the beginning of spring , which was fixed to March 21 in the Julian calendar, which is now in use,
  • on a Sunday after the Jewish Passover festival.

The Council of Nicaea thus in principle gave the proto-fascists the right and rejected the practice of the Quartodecimans .

The cyclical Alexandrian Easter calculation

A regulation on how to determine the date for Easter was apparently not decided. It is also not certain whether and in what way a contract was awarded to the astronomers and mathematicians of Alexandria . But Alexandria was the scientific center of the world at this time, and a relatively simple and precise cyclical Easter calculation had already been developed there. A cyclical approach is directed towards the future. One does not have to wait until the last moment to be able to state the date of Easter based on current observations. On the basis of astronomical knowledge, the first full moon after the beginning of spring can be calculated many years in advance.

Final generally binding Easter date

The council has not yet achieved the intended unity in the Easter celebration. It took centuries for the calculation of the Alexandrian astronomers to become generally accepted. Around 530 Dionysius Exiguus created his Easter tables, which are based on the Alexandrian rules of calculation, and which were later enforced as generally binding by Beda Venerabilis (672-735). From the middle of the 8th century onwards, the council's requirement that all Christians should celebrate Easter at the same time was fulfilled.

Due to the fixation of the beginning of spring on March 21st, the latest day of the astronomically possible dates (between March 19 and 21), as agreed in Nicaea, and the cyclically determined full moon date, Easter paradoxes occur again and again , on which the Easter date is not exactly falls on the astronomically calculated date.

The Easter bill in the Julian and Gregorian calendars

For the cyclical determination of the spring full moon, the calculation in Rome was based on an 84-year cycle, while in Alexandria the 19-year lunar circle was used from the beginning . The calculation method of the Alexandrines prevailed because of the greater achievable accuracy. 19 years correspond to 235 lunar months , and there are only 19 different dates for the spring full moon, namely between March 21st and April 18th

April 5, March 25, April 13, April 2, March 22, April 10, March 30, April 18, April 7, March 27, April 15, April 4, March 24 March 12th, April 1st, March 21st, April 9th, March 29th and April 17th (chronological order over 19 years with golden number = 1 to 19).

The following Sunday is Easter. If the spring full moon falls on a Sunday, Easter is not until a week later. The first possible date for Easter Sunday is March 22 (one day after March 21), and the last possible date is April 25 (seven days after April 18).

In the Julian calendar, an Easter cycle has a period of 532 years. Then the series of 532 Easter dates starts all over again. This number is the smallest common multiple of the period of the lunar circle (19 full moon dates), the 7-day week (regular annual shift of the days of the week by one day) and the switching period (shift of the days of the week by two days every four years): 19 × 7 × 4 = 532.

The first Alexandrian Easter tables come from Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea , which begin with the first year of the Diocletian's era ( martyr's era ), the year 285. Dionysius Exiguus continued the tables of Eusebius up to the year 531 and began one in 532 new Easter cycle. His Dionysian tablets contain Easter dates for 95 years (532 to 627). Bede later extended it (725) to the entire length of this Easter cycle (532 to 1063).

Dionysius stated that March 21, 1 BC. Was a Sunday. The approximate coincidence of the beginning of the Christian era with the beginning of the cycle continued from Dionysius up to the year 531 AD are later interpreted as favorable circumstances for the general acceptance of the Alexandrian method.

An early critic of the Easter calculation, established since Bede, was Reinher von Paderborn in his work Computus emendatus from 1171. He criticized the fact that the Jewish calendar (“the law”) is not strictly adhered to and consequently occasionally an incorrect date is determined. He reminded that the Jewish calendar was not handled cyclically rigidly with regard to the beginning of spring or the first lunar month of spring. This creates a calendar year with an average length of 365.2468 days, for example. In Computus, 365.2500 days are calculated, which means, for example, a deviation of one day in about 314 years. Reinher gave an improved - "law-obeying" but cyclical procedure - which was not used officially.

During the Gregorian calendar reform in 1582, not only was the calendar better adapted to the solar year (365.2425 days, not the less precise 365.2468 days from the Jewish calendar), but also the small error in the equation on which the lunar circle is based ( 235 lunar months = 6939.75 days) corrected. The full moon calculated according to this is a bit late compared to the actual one over a long period of time. The delay of a few days that has now accumulated has been compensated and it has been determined that in the future a leap day should occasionally be canceled ( solar equation ) and the full moon date should occasionally be set one day earlier ( lunar equation ).

Russian resurrection icon , 16th century

With these measures, the reformed Easter bill can also lead to April 26th as the latest Easter Sunday, because there are no longer only 19 dates for the full moon, but every 30 days of a full month. The last of these days is April 19th (the 30th day after March 21st). In order not to have to give up the tradition from Julian times (Easter not later than April 25th), two rules have been added:

  • Exception rule I: If the cyclical full moon is on April 19th and this is a Sunday, it will be moved back to April 18th.
  • With exception rule I cumulative exception rule II: If the cyclical full moon is in the same period of the lunar circle on April 18th, and this is a Sunday, it is moved back to April 17th.

The second rule ensured that Easter does not fall twice on the same calendar day after April 18 within a period of the lunar circle, which traditionally was not possible either. The Easter cycle in the Gregorian calendar has grown to 5,700,000 years, which is only of theoretical importance, because after such a long time the Easter dates determined with the more precise rules of the Gregorian calendar will have completely deviated from astronomical realities.

With the exception of the Finnish Orthodox Church, in all Orthodox churches - including the so-called New Calendars who use the Western calendar for the fixed holidays today - the unreformed Julian calendar and the Easter calculation of that time are adhered to when calculating the Easter date. In all Orthodox churches, the rule applies that Easter must not be before the Jewish Passover , which, however, has not been possible for centuries due to the gradual shift of the Julian calendar in relation to the Jewish calendar and is therefore no longer possible in the calculation today must be considered separately. Sticking to the Julian calendar can mean that, in extreme cases, Orthodox Easter takes place five weeks later than that of the Latin Church.

Methods of calculating Easter

The task reads simply and briefly: "Determine the first Sunday after the first full moon in spring." However, the solution process is demanding and not easily manageable, as the following three best-known methods show:


The Easter bill was called computus paschalis in the Middle Ages . The computists worked with various auxiliary parameters and with tables. The creation of a calendar was regarded as the main problem of mathematical calculation, as the central "art", so that in the Middle Ages the computus was at times the only chapter of mathematics in university education.

Gaussian Easter formula

Carl Friedrich Gauß formulated the Easter algorithm as a set of algebraic formulas. He created a practical tool that can be used by anyone without knowledge of the computus contained in the formulas, compressed and obscured .

The formulas of Gauss are applicable to both the time of the Julian and Gregorian calendar.

Easter formula from Spencer Jones

Gauss was the first and the best known, but not the only developer of an Easter formula. According to Jean Meeus, another formula is said to come from Harold Spencer Jones . According to Meeus, this formula was published in Spencer Jones' 1922 book General Astronomy . Again, this formula was published in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association in 1977. There it is said that this formula was developed as early as 1876 and published in Butcher's Ecclesiastical Calendar . With the help of this formula the correct Easter date can be calculated in the Gregorian calendar without having to make an exception.

Early and late Easter dates in the Western Church

Frequency distribution of the western, Catholic-Protestant Easter date in the Gregorian calendar (blue) and of the eastern, Orthodox Easter date in the Julian calendar (orange)

March 22nd is the earliest possible date and April 25th is the latest possible Easter due to the Gregorian exemption. So there are 35 possible Easter dates.

Since the Gregorian reform of 1582, the earliest date of March 22nd has only occurred in the years 1598, 1693, 1761 and 1818; the next time will not be until 2285. Statistically, this date occurs about every 200 years. In 2008, Easter fell on March 23rd, the second earliest date. This Easter date was last in 1913, the next time will be 2160.

The latest April 25th occurred after the calendar reform in 1666, 1734, 1886 and 1943; the next time will be in 2038. Statistically, this occurs in 0.737 percent of all cases, i.e. less than once per century. In 2011, Easter fell on the second-latest date on April 24th.

According to the international standard rules from ISO 8601 , Easter Sunday can fall on the last day of calendar weeks 12 to 17, with the latter only occurring once or twice per 400-year cycle and only in leap years.

Frequency of the calendar week for Easter Sunday
Calendar week 12 13 14th 15th 16 17th
Frequency (%) 12.1 23.5 23.2 23.3 17.6 0.3

The date of Easter in the Eastern Churches

In almost all Eastern Churches - with the exception of the Finnish Orthodox Church and some of the United Churches - the non-Reformed Julian calendar and the non-Reformed dating of Easter are still used. Some Orthodox churches (in Greece and Bulgaria) today use the so-called neo-Julian calendar for fixed holidays (such as Christmas and the Annunciation ) , which will correspond to the Gregorian calendar up to the year 2799 , but consider moving holidays such as Easter nevertheless adhered to the Julian calendar in order to enable a common Easter for all Orthodox Christians. Regardless of the calendar used, the rule in all Eastern churches is that Easter must not precede the Jewish Passover . Coincidences of the Easter date in Western and Eastern churches are coincidental and arise when the Easter date determined by the non-Reformed Julian method is 13 days (currently, until 2099) earlier than the Easter date determined by the Gregorian method.


  • 2010: Easter in the Eastern Churches on March 22nd, Julian, in the Western Churches on April 4th, Gregorian, 13 days difference,
  • 2014: Easter in the Eastern Churches on April 7th, Julian, in the Western Churches on April 20th, Gregorian, 13 days difference.

Efforts for a common Easter date in western and eastern churches

After almost all states with an Orthodox population - in Russia since the establishment of the Soviet Union - had introduced the reformed calendar in the secular area , the Eastern Churches also saw the need to reform their calendar. In May 1923, under the chairmanship of the ecumenical Patriarch Meletios IV, a congress of the Orthodox churches , including primarily the Russian, Greek, Serbian and Romanian churches , met in Constantinople to discuss these issues. It was decided to essentially adopt the Gregorian calendar ( New Julian calendar ). The determining dates of the beginning of spring and the first full moon in spring should not be predicted (given cyclically), but determined by calculation; Jerusalem should be the place of observation, the local time of which should be decisive.

The resolution was not implemented with regard to the astronomical calculation of Easter, so there was another attempt in 1997 at the conference in Aleppo ( Syria ) to celebrate Easter worldwide on the same day. The changeover should apply from 2001, as the Easter celebrations of the Western and Eastern churches coincided this year (April 15, Gregorian / April 2, Julian). An agreement failed mainly due to concerns of the Eastern Churches, because their Easter date would have changed immediately and in some cases significantly, whereas in the Western Church the new calculation would only have taken effect from 2019 and would only have resulted in a new Easter date in a few years. The additional rule that applies in the Eastern Churches that Easter must always take place after the Jewish Passover should have been given up, since the Western Easter festival often falls before the Jewish Passover due to the inaccuracies in the Jewish calendar.

At a worldwide meeting of priests in Rome in June 2015 , Pope Francis spoke out in favor of a fixed, common date for Easter with the Orthodox churches, around the second Sunday in April. Previously, the Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria , Tawadros II , had suggested a joint Easter date.

See also


Web links

Commons : Easter Date  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Notes and individual references

  1. The Eastern Churches use the Julian calendar, in which a z. Currently, the date is 13 days earlier than that in the Gregorian calendar. Example: April 28, 2019 Gregorian = April 15, 2019 Julian.
  2. April 26th as the theoretically (19 + 7 = 26) last Easter Sunday is not used according to an exception rule. In the Julian calendar, April 18 is the last of the 19 cyclical full moon days and April 25 (18 + 7 = 25) is the last possible Easter Sunday. In the calendar reform, no change was made to the last possible Easter Sunday.
  3. a b Nikolaus A. Bär: The date of Easter . Author's website, accessed February 14, 2018.
  4. ^ A b Joseph Bach: The calculation of Easter in old and new times . Calendar - Computus, accessed February 14, 2018.
  5. ^ C. Philipp E. Nothaft: Dating the Passion. The Life of Jesus and the Emergence of Scientific Chronology (200-1600) . Brill, Leiden 2012, ISBN 978-90-04-21219-0 , pp. 128-142. ( Digitized in the Google book search)
  6. a b Nikolaus A. Bär: Statistics of the Easter data , section: Easter according to the new style. accessed on February 14, 2018.
  7. Marcus Gossler: Term dictionary of chronology and its astronomical bases. Graz 1985, p. 70.
    Nachum Dershowitz, Edward M. Reingold: Calendrical Calculations. Cambridge University Press, 2008, p. 117. ( limited preview in Google Book Search - USA )
  8. ^ A b Marcos J. Montes: The Orthodox Ecclesiastical Calendar, Notes on the Orthodox Easter. In: smart.net. April 7, 2000; Archived from the original on May 31, 2013 ; accessed on March 16, 2019 (English).
  9. ^ Heinz Zemanek : Calendar and Chronology. Oldenbourg, 1990, ISBN 3-486-20927-2 , pp. 35 and 45.
  10. ^ A. Grassl: The Gaussian Easter rule and its basics. In: Stars and Space. No. 4, 1993.
  11. ^ Jean Meeus: Astronomical Algorithms ; Verlag Johann Ambrosius Barth, Leipzig / Berlin / Heidelberg 1992, ISBN 3-335-00318-7 , pp. 81-83.
  12. Harold Spencer Jones: General Astronomy. 1922, pp. 73-74.
  13. ^ British Astronomical Association. Volume 88, 1977, p. 91.
  14. See Wikibooks
  15. In Meeus pp. 81–83 there is a misprint on page 81. When calculating the variable “c”, the variable “i” is missing in the quotient column.
  16. ^ A b Robert Harry van Gent: Frequency of Easter Sundays: Distribution of Easter Sundays in the Gregorian Calendar. In: History of Astronomy. Utrecht University , February 12, 2017, accessed on March 17, 2019 .
  17. ^ Irvin L. Bromberg: Which Symmetry454 and Gregorian holidays or events often coincide? (PDF; 152 kB) In: Symmetry454 Calendar Birthdays, Anniversaries, Memorial Days, Holidays and Annual Events. January 7, 2012, p. 4 , accessed on March 16, 2019 (English).
  18. Nikolaus Bär: The calendar reform of the Eastern Churches under the date of Easter . Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  19. M. Milankovitch: The End of the Julian Calendar and the New Calendar of the Oriental Churches . In: Astronomical News . tape 220 , 1924, pp. 380-384 .
  20. Pope wants agreement with Orthodox: Is there a fixed Easter date for all Christians? In: tagesschau.de . June 13, 2015, archived from the original on June 15, 2015 ; accessed on March 16, 2019 . Will there be a common Easter date for all Christians soon? In: ORF religion . June 13, 2015, accessed June 13, 2015 .
  21. Pope is striving for a uniform date for all Christians: Towards the common Easter celebration. In: Domradio . June 13, 2015, accessed March 16, 2019 .