How beautiful is this?
According to popular belief, the trusty Farmer’s Almanac, and life in the southern hemisphere, April’s Full Moon was named the Hunter’s Moon because (a long time ago) it signalled the time to go hunting in preparation for the cold winter months.
In reality, the Hunter’s Moon is simply the first Full Moon to follow the Harvest Moon, which is the Full Moon nearest to the autumnal equinox (March 21).
For those in the northern hemisphere, March 21 signals the spring equinox and, coincidentally, in the northern hemisphere, April’s Full Moon is called the Pink Moon.
More importantly, this beautiful Full Moon is also the Paschal± Full Moon and is significant for those who celebrate Easter because this is the Full Moon used to calculate the date when Easter falls each year.
My religious background tells me that:
The date for Easter is different each year because Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first Full Moon that falls on or after March 21.
I had this drummed into me from a very early age.
However . . . (and here’s the clincher):
If the first Full Moon that falls on or after March 21 also falls on a Sunday, then Easter is celebrated on the following Sunday.
But this has me thinking . . .
If there’s a Full Moon today, why is today also Easter Sunday?
Calculating the date when Easter falls each year is complicated because although Easter is related to both the equinox in March and the Full Moon that follows, the date itself is not based on the actual astronomical date of either event. Although both dates may coincide, in some years, they don’t.
- Regardless of your time zone, March 21 is the Church’s date of the March equinox even though the actual date of the equinox can vary between March 19 and March 22 depending on your time zone; and
- The date of the Paschal Full Moon is based on mathematical estimates following a 19-year cycle called the Metonic cycle*; AND . . .
- To make matters even more complicated, the Christian Church also has its own calendar based on the lunisolar† cycle that it (the Church) uses to determine the dates for the movable feasts, fasts and festivals each year.
I told you it was complicated, but with all of this in mind, I come back to my question:
If there’s a Full Moon today, why is it also Easter Sunday?
The answer to that question was a simple one to find.
All of those calculations used to determine which Sunday happens to be Easter Sunday are done in accordance with where and when they fall in the Northern Hemisphere or more accurately, the other side of the international dateline.
And . .
The timing of today’s Full Moon in the northern hemisphere just so happens to fall on Saturday, April 16, making Sunday, April 17, Easter Sunday.
I love it when I learn new things.
Happy Easter Everyone!
–⋅ o ♥ o ⋅–
Oh, and this is also my entry for Cee’s Black and White Challenge In the Distance.
± The name Paschal is derived from “Pascha”, a transliteration of the Aramaic word meaning Passover.
* According to the Metonic cycle, the Paschal Full Moon falls on a recurring sequence of 19 dates ranging from March 21 to April 18. Because Easter Sunday falls on the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, it can be observed on any date between March 22 and April 25.
† A lunisolar calendar is a calendar in many cultures, combining lunar calendars and solar calendars where months are lunar but years are solar.