Palm leaves, donkeys and processions prepare us for Holy Week

 

 

Palm Sunday brings the start of Holy Week and will be marked by special services in the churches, minsters and cathedrals of our diocese.

Processions will celebrate Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem and at All Saints’ Bingley, for example, at 2pm, worshippers in biblical dress will walk with a donkey through the town’s streets, over strewn palm leaves and on to the church.

Easter’s date each year is decided by fascinating calculations based on observations of the moon.

In Western Christianity, Easter Sunday must always follow the first full moon after the Spring Equinox.

The crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus happened around the time of the Jewish festival of Passover.

Passover typically begins on the night of the first full moon after the equinox, except in "leap months" when it is the second full moon, as in 2016.

Because the precise timing of observing the full moon can vary in each time zone, the Christian church instead calculates the date from ecclesiastical calendar.

This calendar divides 19 normal calendar years into 235 months of 30 and 29 days each, with the ecclesiastical full moon on the 14th day of each lunar month.

The "paschal full moon" - from the Aramaic for Passover - is the one that falls on or after the Spring Equinox.

Easter Day is the first Sunday after the paschal full moon - so if the full moon is on a Sunday, Easter will be a week later.

Therefore, the earliest Easter can be is March 22, and the latest is April 25.

The latest Easter in recent years was April 23 in the year 2000, and the earliest was March 23 in 2008.

Christians in the East use the Julian calendar, 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar used in the West, so the full moon and equinox are calculated according to a different date.

This means that this year, the Eastern church will celebrate Easter on April 28, a week after Western churches.

Some years, such as in 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2017, the two churches celebrated Easter on the same day. This will happen next in 2025.

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