Why Are Mardi Gras and Easter on Different Dates Every Year?
Some holidays make it pretty easy to determine when you are supposed to celebrate. For example, the Fourth of July happens on the fourth of July every year and no matter how much we want to manipulate the dates into a three day weekend, we just can't do it. The same applies to Christmas. It's going to be on December 25th and that's when we will celebrate.
Some other holidays such as Halloween always fall on the same date every year but apparently, some local governments feel the celebration of a holiday such as Halloween should not interfere with Sunday church services, high school or college football schedules, or the threat of rain. But the whining and moaning about Halloween we will save for the fall.
Easter and Mardi Gras are two holidays that seem to ebb and flow every year. That's why you'll hear people say from time to time, "Easter is early this year" or " King Cake season is going to be short this year". You would think that such solid holidays as Mardi Gras and Easter would have established days and dates that we could depend on but that is not the case.
We do know that Mardi Gras is 46 days before Easter. During those 46 days, 40 regular days and six Sundays it is considered to be Lent. Lent is a time of repentance, fasting, reflection, and ultimately celebration on Easter Sunday.
So, we know Mardi Gras comes 46 days before Easter, but how is Easter determined? For that answer, you have to look up. And I don't mean just in the spiritual sense either. You'll need to focus on the Moon and the stages of the Moon, in particular the last full moon.
According to tradition, Easter is the first Sunday following the first full moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox. The spring or vernal equinox usually happens on March 20th or 21st. So, Easter could actually fall as early as late March or the latter part of April. It all depends on when that moon phase goes full in relation to the change of the seasons.
Therefore knowing what we know about how Easter is determined we can say this. Spring is set to "arrive" in North America on March 20th. Now there will be a full moon on March 18th, the Worm Moon, but that comes too early to fit our definition.
The next full moon is April 16th, the Pink Moon. This full moon will occur after the vernal equinox and the first Sunday to follow that full moon will come a day later on April 17th and if you check your calendar, that's Easter.
If you want to do the math, there is an algorithm to figure it all out but I am guessing once you see all of those letters and symbols involved in the equation, you'll just take our word for it.
In the meantime, why don't you get started on cleaning up all that debris and standing water you have in the backyard. With Easter coming, you know the mosquitoes won't be too far behind.
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