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Ester Was And Ever Is A New Passover

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Ask anyone how the Easter date is decided upon and pat comes the answer that it is on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or following the spring equinox (March 21). So Easter is a "movable" feast, which can occur as early as March 22 or as late as April 25.


But there is a proviso: the full moon mentioned is not the astronomical full moon but an ecclesiastical moon that keeps, more or less, in step with the astronomical moon. The selection of the date is so complicated that even priests find it rather difficult when asked how the date of Easter is determined every year.


The ecclesiastical full moon is the 14th day of a tabular lunation (new moon); while the vernal equinox is a fixed date (March 21) because it is in tangent with the motion of the sun. It is the precise time at which the apparent longitude of the sun is zero degrees. This precise time shifts within the civil calendar very slightly from year to year. In the ecclesiastical system, the vernal equinox does not shift; it is fixed at March 21 regardless of the actual motion of the sun. This is why Easter can never fall before March 22 or later than April 25.


According to information available on the Internet, prior to A.D. 325, Easter was celebrated on different days of the week, including Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But in 325 A.D. the Council of Nicaea was convened by Emperor Constantine and after much discussion an Easter Rule was issued which said that Easter shall be celebrated on the first Sunday that occurs after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. There was a caveat, which said that the "full moon" in the rule meant the ecclesiastical full moon, which is defined as the 14th day of a tabular lunation, where day 1 corresponds to the ecclesiastical new moon. It does not always occur on the same date as the astronomical full moon. The ecclesiastical vernal equinox is always on March 21. Therefore, Easter must be celebrated on a Sunday between the dates of March 22 and April 25.


According to the new Catholic Encyclopedia, the Easter dates had been surrounded by controversy between the second and eighth centuries. There was the Asian practice in the 2nd century of observing Easter on the day of the Jewish Passover, and this conflicted with the Roman custom of celebrating Easter on Sunday, the day of the Resurrection. Sometimes Asians celebrated Easter on days when other Christians were observing Good Friday. This incongruous situation was sought to be remedied by the then Pope, Victor, who wanted to impose the Roman date. But it didn’t work out.


The Christians also did not like the idea of letting the Jewish Passover be the deciding factor for the Easter date. But they got tied up in knots trying to decide the date according to the Julian calendar because of the complexities involved in calculations, and the controversies only deepened.


In 314 A.D. the Council of Aries tried to achieve some uniformity in the Easter date by aligning it with the same day as observed by the See of Rome. But this was not accepted universally by all the factions in different parts of the world as it was then. The Celts had their own calendar in the regions where they had settled and came into conflict with the Christians, who had their own calendar.


Father Aniceto Nazareth offers a very piquant explanation of Easter. According to him, Easter has its origin in the shepherds’ celebration of the Passover, for which a lamb was slain and the farmers celebrated the festival of unleavened bread. Jesus was thus both the Lamb of God and unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.


In Jesus, therefore, both shepherd and farmers were at last united. Jesus called himself the "good shepherd" and the "fruitful wine." The very date of Easter is significant of this unity.


It is celebrated on the Sunday after the first full moon of spring. Sunday is the day of resurrection. Spring one of four seasons in the solar calendar (and farmers needed sun to grow their crops), while phases of moon are a computation from the lunar calendar of the shepherds who watch their flocks by night. Easter was a new Passover (the word means a breakthrough when farmers were united with shepherds). [Source: The Examiner]

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