Today is Friday, 14th of April.

Good Friday - but why? Well basically because it's the Friday before the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the 21st of March, unless that full moon is on a Sunday, it which case it's a week later.

Only the moon we're talking about here is not necessarily the one you may see in the sky. It's a hypothetical moon, whose lunations consist of alternate lunar months of 29 and 30 days, with occasional modifications to make it fit better with the real moon.

The "Paschal Full Moon" is enshrined in a statute of George II and confirms the date of Easter as prescribed by the Council of Nicaea in 325. The ruling ensures that Easter Day, and thus Good Friday too, may fall on any of the 35 dates from 22 March to 25 April. In the next 30 years, the earliest Easter will be on 23 March 2008, and the latest on 24 April 2011.

In 1928, the House of Commons agreed to the third reading of a Bill fixing Easter Day as the first Sunday after the second Saturday in April. However, a clause in the Bill provided that regard shall be had to opinions of the various Christian Churches. Efforts to reach agreement have apparently not yet been concluded successfully, although in 1963 the Vatican Council also declared itself in favour of fixing the date of Easter when agreement with the other churches could be reached.

COMPETITION: Another five of our "26 L of the A" (Letters of the Alphabet) questions with the Chambers Dictionary of Beliefs and Religions for the first three correct answers opened on 26 April.

10 L N of A C

12 A M

14 J B D in F

15 M on the D M C

20-T V

Entries should be sent to: Pastimes, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5 DL.

31 March Competition Report

Answers to the T in C (Tongue in Cheek) set of pre-first-April foolishness were as follows:

2 Many Cooks Spoil the Broth;

4 He's a Jolly Good Fellow;

9 German for No.

Alice in 1derland.

All 4 1, 1 4 all (The 3 Musketeers) (as in "All for one, one for all").

Lots of correct entries. Prizes to:

Aloisius Golightly (Bury St Edmunds); Mrs M Cleaver (Mid-Glamorgan); C Henton (Cardiff).

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