Anger about the inconvenience caused by the earliest Easter for 95 years has led to calls for the dates to be fixed to reduce disruption to parents, gardeners and the tourist industry. According to a formula set in AD325, Easter Sunday is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. The earliest Easter Sunday can be is March 22 – one day before this year’s – and the latest is April 25. Easter will not fall as early as this again for 220 years…
…Bob Cotton, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, which represents two-thirds of UK hotels, said: “There’s a strong argument for fixing Easter some time in mid-April and aligning it better with the Easter holidays. We have a real problem with the irregularity of the school holidays this year. If you’re a family with kids at different schools it’s almost impossible to arrange a holiday.
“Easter is often seen as the start of what we might call the season. With the weather being so bad because it’s so early it will be a missed opportunity for business. This year some people might open up this weekend and then close again for a few weeks”…
…Denis Cobell, of the National Secular Society, said the organisation would prefer a unified spring holiday not linked to the religious festival, and Good Friday and Easter Monday should not be bank holidays. “It would be far more sensible from the point of view of both schools and employers and people who work if there was an early spring holiday, probably around the first weekend in April.”
The early Easter may even disrupt the routine of gardeners, who traditionally use the weekend to do jobs like getting their hanging baskets, beds and borders ready. Guy Barter, the head of Royal Horticultural Society’s gardening advice service, said it was too early this year to be putting in tender plants.”
Given that the calculations for Easter have been in force since AD325 and that such an early Easter won’t occur for another 220 years, the calls to have the system for determining Easter scrapped seem particularly weak. Arguments from the National Secular Society, the tourism industry and gardeners respectively fail to convince me otherwise: the first, being a way of further removing ‘religion’ from the calendar as well as the public spaces in line with the Society’s objectives; the second, so as to maximise profits through having a holiday later in the year so as to hopefully ensure better weather; the third, accompanied by the sound of a barrel being scraped.
What is interesting about these arguments is that they completely overlook the religious significance of Easter. The date on which Easter falls is linked to the Jewish festival of Passover (Pesach). Whilst differences of opinion can be found between the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark & Luke) and the Gospel of St John about whether the Last Supper occurred before or after the Passover meal, given that the Passover is determined using the Hebrew calendar which is a lunisolar one – and so unlike the Gregorian calendar used in ‘the West’ – it would seem completely incomprehensible that a single date for Easter, as indeed it would the Passover also, be fixed. In terms of the Passover, I’m certain that such things would not even be contemplated let alone called for.
On this point, I’m glad to see that the Church of England have responded firmly and categorically to the calls for change:
A spokeswoman for the Church of England said the church felt the current arrangements for deciding the date of Easter were appropriate
Let’s hope the Church continue to hold firm on this issue and that others support them in fighting what will no doubt be a growing number of voices calling for an increasingly invisible Easter to be ‘fixed’.