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Re: Which Easter?

At 07:07 14/4/98, John Schilke wrote:
>On Tue, 14 Apr 1998, Andrew Smith wrote:
>> If anyone knows the method for calculating the Celtic Church Easter I
>> would be glad to know it.
>        So should I!
>        John

I seem to have missed quite a bit during me enforced absence from the
internet!  I'll leave the alternate history to John Cowan & Andrew. ;-)

I wonder if, indeed, the exact method used by the old Irish Church is
properly known.  One thing is certain - it was not the method now used by
the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

The sad fact is that the date of Easter was one of those matters that
caused considerable differences between early Christian communities; not
even the day of the week was agreed upon!  In Asia Minor it was common for
churches to celebrate Easter on the 14th day of the lunar month
corresponding to the Jewish month of Nisan, no matter what week day it fell
upon.  The common opinion elsewhere was that it should be celebrated on
'Kyriaki imera' (The Lord's Day, i.e. Sunday); but there was not common
agreement on determining which Sunday.  Presumably where there was contact
with Jewish communities, it would occur at Passover; but where there was
little or no contact, other methods of calculation appear to have been

What happened at Whitby was not that Rome pushed its own method on the
Celtic Church; the main argument that persuaded the Celts to change was
that the _whole_ of Christendom celebrated it on a common date, except the

One thing that Constantine insisted on was that Christian bihops & churches
should not quarel over such matters; therefore, he summoned the Council of
Nicea in 325 AD.  One of the matters decided there was the date of Easter:
the Sunday following the Pascal full moon, i.e. the full moon which occurs
at or after the 21st March.  The 21st March was taken, correctly in 325, as
the date of the vernal equinox; and the 19 year Metonic cycle, long used
for local calenders in Greece, was used to determine the full moon.  This
is still the basis for the modern Western (Catholic & Protestant) and
Eastern (Orthodox) calculations; the present differences came later.

At Whitby the Celts who had adhered to one of the pre-Nicene methods,
accepted the Nicene method used universally elsewhere.  It seems to me very
unlikely that any Cambrian church would not also have adopted the Nicene

The present difference between Western & Eastern is due to Pope Gregory's
reform of the calendar in 1582.  It had long been noticed in the middle
ages that March 21st was no longer the real vernal equinox.  In 1582,
indeed, it fell on March 11th.  Gregory reformed the calendar to bring the
equinox back to the 21st & changed the rules for leap years at the end of
centuries to stop the equinox getting out of phase.  The Catholic church
accordingly modified the Nicene method to adapt it to the new calendar.
The various Protestant churches eventually went over to this system also;
but the Eastern churches adhered to the old Julian Calendar.  I understand
the Russian, Greek, Serbian & Romanian churches adopted a modified form of
the Gregorian Calendar in May, 1932; but I don't know the details.  It's
enough to make the date od Easter still work out differently.

(BTW - Happy Easter, John)

Now if the Cambrese church is celebrating Easter this coming Sunday, it
would mean that it continued to adhere to the Julian Calendar long after
western Europe had changed to the Gregorian & that it eventually adopted
the same modified "new style" calender as the main Orthodox Churches did in
1932.  Personally, I don't find the scenario convincing.

BTW - nothing to do with this but:

On June 15th, 1928, the British House of Commons agreed that Easter be
fixed as "the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April".  Parliament
could have imposed this on the established Anglican church, but added a
clause in the Bill to the effect that the change would not take place until
opinion had been expressed by various Christian churches.

The Second Vatican Council also expressed itself in favor of a fixed Easter
(I believe the 2nd Sunday in April was the favorite) but only when & if
agreement could be reached with other churches.


Whatever persuasion - all Christians will be in Eastertide by next Sunday -
so happy & blessed Eastertide!


Written in Net English        Humor not necessarily marked

Sorry for delayed response.
I haven't been able to get through to my ISP since
from 6th April till 14th April.
I am now working through a backlog of over 280 mails  :=(