Easter is when? Why? And what about St. Pat’s Day?

And St. Patrick’s Day is…

March 17, right? That’s when the NYC Parade will be.

Or March 14, when churches in the Archdiocese of New York will celebrate the Mass associated with St. Patrick?

tjndc5-5e07qc8fe3c14gp7so55_layout.jpgI have an article running in the next few days about how Catholic dioceses have had to reschedule the liturgical St. Patrick’s Day this year because March 17 falls on the Monday of Holy Week.

Easter is extremely early this year, on March 23. So Holy Week, the week that begins with Palm Sunday and leads to Easter, is also early, backing up onto ‘ol St. Patrick.

The reason for Easter’s early arrival is, well, complicated.

A fourth century church council wanted to keep Easter near Passover and decided that Easter would be the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. Got that?

The system hasn’t exactly worked, though. Passover this year begins on April 19.

There has been talk for decades of the major Christian traditions agreeing to set Easter on the same date every year. The Orthodox Christian churches use an entirely different calendar and will celebrate Easter this year on April 27 — a full five weeks after the Western churches.

A 1997 summit of church leaders set the stage for deciding on a new universal Easter date, but…these things tend to take a while.

Next year Easter will return to April 12.

And Holy Week won’t overlap with St. Patty’s Day again until 2160.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.