- Easter Sunday changes dates year-to-year. This year, Easter is on Sunday, April 17, 2022.
- Why is Easter so late this year? You can thank the moon. The holiday occurs on the Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox, which welcomes spring in the northern hemisphere.
- All of the celebrations leading up to Easter also change dates.
Springtime is welcomed with open arms after long days (and nights) of winter. With it comes warmer weather, fresh flowers, and, for those who celebrate the holiday, the arrival of Easter Sunday. Unlike Christmas, which falls on the same date each year, Easter and the celebrations leading up to it change dates every year depending on the vernal equinox. So we’re answering your burning questions about why Easter changes dates along with some of the holiday’s important dates to keep in mind.
Of course, to know when Easter is this year, you can figure it out by taking a step back and figuring out Ash Wednesday’s date. The main event occurs six and a half weeks after Ash Wednesday, encompassing the 40 days of Lent. But to discover what causes all these dates to fluctuate year after year instead of staying in one place like many other annual holidays including Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day, you might want to look to the sky for your answer. We’ve investigated the reasons behind the ever-changing date, which includes the phases of the moon, the vernal equinox, and the Gregorian calendar. You might not have realized just how much goes into how Easter Sunday is determined each year!
How is the Easter date determined every year?
First off, it’s important to know that though the exact date of Easter changes each year, there’s a definite period in which the day occurs, and that’s March 22 through April 25 (in the Gregorian calendar, not the Julian calendar). Easter always occurs on the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon (the first full moon that occurs after the vernal equinox, which signifies the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere), according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
In 2022, the vernal equinox falls on March 20, 2022, making the first full moon after that date April 16 and the following Sunday—April 17—Easter 2022.
When is Easter 2022?
Easter Sunday 2022 falls on April 17. And although the holiday is the main event, there are several important commemorations leading up to the holy day. This year, things kicked off on Wednesday, March 2, when churchgoers headed to their local congregations to observe Ash Wednesday. On this day, priests and pastors smear ashes from the previous year’s Palm Sunday palms on the attendees’ foreheads. They do this while repeating Genesis 3:19, which says, “…for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. The meaning of Lent is to be “encouraged to find our own method of confronting our sinfulness, remembering our mortality, and giving thanks for the gift of salvation we receive through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” according to the United Methodist Church’s website. Many people choose to give up something or give themselves to charity during the 40-day-long celebration.
Lent comes to a close during Holy Week, which begins with Palm Sunday on April 10. Palm Sunday marks Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem where he was greeted with palm branches, according to the 40 Acts website. Several days later comes Holy Wednesday, which falls on April 13 this year, and this recognizes Judas Iscariot and his plot to betray the savior. The next day—April 14—is Holy Thursday, the anniversary of the Last Supper. Good Friday, on April 15, is celebrated next, and that commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Easter Sunday, on April 17, celebrates the day that Jesus rose from the tomb and marks the end of Lent.
More Easter Date Trivia
Q. What is the rarest date for Easter?A. March 23, according to statistician Jim Frost on his blog Statistics by Jim. He crunched the data on a 2,516-year time span to answer this question!
Q. When is Easter 2023? A. Someone’s a planner! Easter 2023 falls on April 9. (And before you ask, Easter 2024 occurs on March 31.)
Q. When is Orthodox Easter? A. The Eastern Orthodox Church follows the Julian calendar (versus the Gregorian calendar), which often means a different date for Easter Sunday, though the calendars do sometimes coincide. This year, Orthodox Easter falls on April 24, 2022.