Easter 2022 will be observed on Sunday, April 17! Easter is a “movable feast” that is always held on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25. Why is Easter so late this year? Find out why the date changes every year and how this holiday relates to the first full Moon of spring.
When Is Easter 2022?
This year, Easter will be observed on Sunday, April 17. (Eastern Orthodox Easter will take place on Sunday, April 24.)
Why Is Easter So Late This Year?
Easter is a “movable feast,” so it doesn’t happen on the same date from year to year. However, it is always observed on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25.
Easter this year happens just one day after April’s full Moon (Saturday, April 16), which is the first full Moon to occur after the spring equinox (March 20, 2022) and is therefore known in the Christian calendar as the “Paschal Full Moon.” To make a long story short, Easter always occurs on the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, which is why Easter is so late this year. Read more about this curious connection below!
What Is the Most Common Easter Date?
Over a 500-year period (from 1600 to 2099 AD), it just so happens that Easter will have most often been celebrated on either March 31 or April 16.
Many Eastern Orthodox churches follow the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian. In this case, the observance of Easter can occur between April 4 and May 8.
Easter Sunday (Gregorian calendar)
Eastern Orthodox Church (Julian calendar)
How Is The Date of Easter Determined?
Would you believe that the date of Easter is related to the full Moon?
Specifically, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the full Moon that occurs on or just after the spring equinox. Yes, it’s a bit confusing at first read!
Let’s break it down: In 2022, the spring equinox happens on Sunday, March 20. The first full Moon to occur after that date rises on Saturday, April 16. Therefore, Easter will be observed on the subsequent Sunday, which is Sunday, April 17.
In Christian calendars, the first full Moon of spring is called the “Paschal Full Moon” (which we’ll explain further below). So, to put it another way: Easter is observed on the Sundayafter the Paschal Full Moon.
What Happens When the Full Moon and Spring Equinox Occur on the Same Day?
Generally, if the full Moon occurs on the same day as the spring equinox, Easter is observed on the subsequent Sunday. However, there is a caveat:
Long ago, the Christian Church decided to simplify the process of calculating Easter’s date by always observing the spring equinox on March 21, despite the fact that the equinox date changes over time and is actually getting earlier.
This discrepancy between the astronomical equinox date and the Church’s observed equinox date can sometimes cause confusion, as it did in 2019, when the full Moon and the astronomical equinox occurred on the same day—Wednesday, March 20.
According to the formula above, this should have meant that Easter would be observed on Sunday, March 24. However, because the Church observes the equinox on March 21, the full Moon technically did not occur “on or just after” the equinox, meaning that the next full Moon would determine Easter’s date instead. Thus, in 2019, Easter was held on Sunday, April 21, after the full Moon on Friday, April 19.
What Is the Paschal Full Moon?
The word “Paschal,” which is used in the ecclesiastical (Christian church) calendar, comes from “Pascha,” a transliteration of the Aramaic word meaning “Passover.”
In reference to the full Moon, Paschal refers to the date of the full Moon determined many years ago as the 14th day of a lunar month. Ancient calculations (made in a.d. 325) did not take into account certain lunar motions.
So, the Paschal Full Moon is the 14th day of a lunar month occurring on or after March 21 according to a fixed set of ecclesiastical calendar rules, which does not always match the date of the astronomical full Moon nearest the astronomical spring equinox.
It sounds complicated, but the basic idea is to make it simpler to calculate the date for modern calendars. Rest assured, the dates for Easter are calculated long in advance. See past and future Easter dates here.
Want to read more about Easter and the Paschal Full Moon? See our article on their curious connection here.
What Is the Golden Number?
Readers often ask us about the Golden Number, which was traditionally used in calculations for determining the date of Easter.
The Golden Number is a value used to show the dates of new Moons for each year, following a 19-year cycle.
The Moon repeats the dates of its phases approximately every 19 years (the Metonic cycle), and the Golden Number represents a year in that cycle. The year of the cycle can then be used to determine the date of Easter.
To Calculate the Golden Number:
Add 1 to any given year and divide the result by 19, ensuring that you calculate to the nearest whole number; the remainder is the Golden Number. If there is no remainder, the Golden Number is 19.
For example, to calculate the Golden Number for 2022, we take 2022 and add 1, resulting in 2023, then divide it evenly by 19, giving us 106 with a remainder of 9. Therefore, the Golden Number for 2022 is 9, meaning 2022 is the 9th year of the Metonic cycle.
What Is Easter?
Easter is the most important feast day in the Christian calendar.
Regularly observed from the earliest days of the Church, Easter celebrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead, following crucifixion. It marks the end of Holy Week, the end of Lent, and the last day of the Easter Triduum (starting from the evening of Maundy Thursday, through Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday), as well as the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year.
The resurrection represents the triumph of good over evil, sin, death, and the physical body.
Where Did the Word “Easter” Come From?
Easter, also called Pascha or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Let’s start with Pascha (Latin) which comes directly from Pesach, the Hebrew word for Passover. Going back to the Hebrew Bible and the story of the first Passover, Moses tells the Israelites to slaughter a passover lamb and paint its blood on their door. The Lord protected the Israelites from death by passing over their doors and would not “allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down” (Ex. 12:23).
In the New Testament (1 Corinthians 5:7), Paul connects the resurrected Christ to Passover. He refers to Jesus as the paschal lamb who has been sacrificed for his people’s salvation. Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples during Passover, so it makes sense that the Feast of the Resurrection is connected with the Jewish holiday. Today, Christians celebrate the “Paschal mystery.”
So, where did the word “Easter” come from? The exact origin of the word “Easter” is unclear. It’s not as simple as saying it has religious origins or pagan origins.
Some historians suggest that it came from the phrase hebdomada alba, Latin for “white week,” used to describe the white garments new Christians wore when they were baptized during Holy Week. In Old German, the word became esostarum and, eventually, Easter.
The Venerable Bede, a seventh-century Anglo-Saxon historian also known as Saint Bede, writes that the word Easter comes from the Anglo-Saxon dawn goddess of fertility Eostre, also the goddess of the dawn, who originated in what is now Scandinavia. Over time, early Christians started referring to the Feast of the Resurrection by the name of the month in which it was celebrated—Eosturmonath (what we now call April).
Alternatively, Easter may have from an old German word for “east,” which in turn is derived from a Latin word for “dawn.” In the past, the word easter could mean “to turn toward the east” or “rising” and didn’t necessarily have any implied religious meaning. (Note: It was the Germans who invented the “Easter Bunny” who visited “good” children’s homes, much like they invented Santa Claus.)
Bottom line, no one truly knows the etymological origins of the word, “Easter.” It is one of the oldest Old English words.
In the end, it is unimportant whether Easter comes from the goddess of the dawn or the Latin word for dawn. In whatever language, Easter today is a Christian holiday to celebrate Christ’s resurrection—and the reminder that death brings life.
Our Favorite Easter Recipes
Traditional Easter dishes include seasonal produce as well as symbols of spring such as lamb, ham, eggs, asparagus, spring peas, hot cross buns and sweet breads, and a carrot cake.
We have all the traditional Easter recipes and more! Check out our Favorite Easter Recipes.
Greek Easter Bread. Photo by Pasta/Shutterstock.
From all the Editors here at The Old Farmer’s Almanac, we wish you a Happy Easter and a joyous spring season!
When Is Easter 2022? Here’s Why the Holiday Changes Dates Every Year
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?
Although Easter is the main event, the holiday has several important commemorations leading up to the holy day. This year, things kick off on Wednesday, March 2, when churchgoers head 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’s arrival in Jerusalem where he was 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 double-cross 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. The week comes to a close on Easter Sunday, which is April 17, when Jesus rose from the tomb.