When is Easter 2021 and why does the date change every year?

The date of Easter Sunday depends on the spring equinox

Sabrina Barr
Sunday 28 March 2021 11:29
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Five Easter traditions across Europe

One of the most important festivals in the Christian faith, Easter celebrates the period during which Christians believe Jesus Christ was resurrected following the crucifixion.

For people who are not Christian, it is also a time to come together as a family.

Unlike Christmas, the date of Easter is subject to change, as its date is determined by a lunisolar calendar.

So when is Easter, why does its date vary and how is it celebrated? Here’s everything you need to know:

When is it?

Easter marks the end of the 40-day period of Lent, during which those who observe the festival abstain from everyday luxuries such as rich foods.

The week before Easter is widely referred to by Christians as “Holy Week”, as it recalls the events surrounding the passion, crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This year, Easter Sunday is taking place on Sunday 4 April.

Some sectors of Christianity celebrate Easter on a different date in accordance with the Julian Calendar, a Roman calendar first proposed by Julius Caesar in 46 BC.

Orthodox Christianity will celebrate Easter on Sunday 2 May this year, almost a month after Western Christianity.

Why does the date change every year?

Much like other religious events such as the Hindu celebration of Diwali and the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah, Easter is a moveable feast.

This means its date on the Gregorian calendar can vary every year.

The date of Easter Sunday falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox in March.

By taking into account the date of the vernal equinox (which this year fell on Saturday 20 March) and the next following full moon (Sunday 28 March), it was therefore calculated that Easter Sunday would take place on Sunday 4 April in 2021.

What does Easter commemorate?

Those who observe the Christian festival of Easter celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after he was crucified, as outlined in the New Testament.

Easter has strong links with the Jewish festival of Passover, another moveable feast which is taking place this year between Saturday 27 March and Sunday 4 April.

How is it celebrated?

The first church service that some Christians attend in celebration of Easter is held on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday and the last day of Holy Week.

However, church services will not be able to talk place this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, with places of worship being closed as a safeguarding measure.

In addition to church services, it’s tradition for Christians to commemorate Easter with music, candles, flowers and the ringing of church bells.

While Easter is a religious festival, it is also celebrated by a variety of communities of different faiths across the globe.

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Many mark the occasion by exchanging chocolate eggs, which are traditionally symbolic of rebirth and new life.

Lots of children also take part in the festivities by participating in Easter egg hunts.​

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