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The Date of Easter 2021 is April 4
The origins, history, date and meaning of Chrisitanity's highest holiday

The date of Easter in 2021 is April 4 for most Protestants and Catholics. This year for Eastern Orthodox Christians it is May 2.

(For an explanation of how the date of Easter is calculated and the date of Easter in future years, continue reading.) For a calculator that will help you find the date of Easter for any year, click here.

How the date of Easter was set.

In 1582, Gregory XIII (Pope of the Roman Catholic Church) revised the calendar for use by people all across Christendom, resulting in a new set of dates for Easter. Universal adoption of the Gregorian calendar occurred slowly. By the 1700's, though, most of western Europe had adopted what came to be known as the Gregorian Calendar.

The rules for determining the date of Easter are:

Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox; the vernal equinox is fixed as March 21. There are some highly technical rules for determining the actual date of the full moon, but when you take all this into account the result is that Easter can never occur before March 22 or later than April 25.

(Eastern Orthodox churches use a variant of these rules that result in those churches celebrating Easter on a different Sunday.)

The following are dates of Easter from 2011 to 2015:

2012 April 8; 2013 March 31; 2014 April 20; 2015 April 5

To calculate the date of Easter in ANY given year.

Easter, the most important holiday for Christians, commemorates Christ's resurrection on the third day following his crucifixion. So important is the resurrection to Christians that it has been said that every Christian worship service is a celebration of the resurrection.

For the original Easter story as told 2000 years ago by the gospel writers, Matthew and John. These accounts of the resurrection are read every Easter Sunday in Christian churches around the world, and this has happened every year for two millennium.

Prayers and Readings for Easter

Index of all Easter related content on this site

How Easter got its name.

For several hundred years, Easter was not called "Easter." Prior to the fourth century, Christians observed Pascha, Christian Passover, in the spring of the year. Adapted from Jewish Passover, Pascha was a festival of redemption. As Jews, these early followers of Jesus celebrated both their liberation from slavery in Egypt, and their new liberation from the power of death itself.

As Christianity spread throughout the Roman world, however, the celebration became more and more a distinctly Christian one. But there also developed some disagreement about when and how the holiday should be observed. One of the principal reasons for organizing the council of Nicea in 325 CE was to set a firm date for the celebration.

Though the record is not complete, the church fathers were intent on making the holiday into something that those acquainted with the gods and goddesses of the Greco-Roman world be comfortable with. Thus the festival came to be known as "Easter," a name derived, some think, from "Eostre," the Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe; others suggest it was derived from an ancient word for spring "eastre." Without doubt some elements of pre-Christian religious practice have been incorporated into the Easter traditions.

Is it a problem that Easter and other Christian holidays are said to have "pagan origins?"

For more on the Eastern Orthodox Easter

Actually, Easter is not a Sunday, it's an entire Season.

For the full Easter story as told by the gospel writers Matthew and John.

The Easter Story in Stained Glass
For more on the resurrection and the meaning of Easter.

Easter Art
The Easter story as told by the world's great artists in the great museums of the world.

Sermons For the Easter Season

Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and author of Faith, Science and the Future, published in 1994 by CrossCurrents Press. He is also the author of God and Science (John Knox / Westminster, 1986) which he is now rewriting to incorporate more recent developments in the conversation taking place between scientists and theologians. He has also written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The Nation, Commonweal, The Christian Century and others.

For further information about Charles Henderson.