Saturday, 16 January 2016
Easter date to be fixed?
At yesterday’s press conference following the meeting of Anglican primates the Archbishop of Canterbury said that the primates had voted to join discussions with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches to set a common, fixed date for Easter.
John Bingham The Telegraph Easter date to be fixed ‘within next five to 10 years’
Ben Quinn The Guardian Christian leaders attempt to fix global date for Easter
BBC News Archbishop Justin Welby hopes for fixed Easter date
Andrew Griffin Independent Easter to be fixed to one date all the time, Archbishop Justin Welby says
Ruth Gledhill Christian Today Anglican Primates agree to set fixed, common date for Easter
Wikipedia has a number of articles on the date of Easter.
Posted by Peter Owen on
Saturday, 16 January 2016 at 11:23am GMT
Reform of the date of Easter
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
So "Primates" wasn't a gathering. And it wasn't meeting. It was an Ecumenical Council!
If this happens, I'll be sorry for it: I enjoy the variety that the current system gives us in the flow of the church year. And I believe the pope of the coptic church is misguided if he believes that uniformity of practice is a good marker of unity of the Body. Uniformity isn't how the church expresses unity and has never been - even in Counter-Reformation Roman catholicism.
Smoke and mirrors? Diversionary tactics? Massaging a sore ego? Take your pick.
The Easter thing serves two purposes for the conservatives: another pointless demand to beat the people into mindless lockstep with a church in their image, and a way to distance themselves from Jewish tradition. They want to keep their Christianity far as possible from Jesus!
Having raised the hopes of buisiness and academia, and publicly stated the Anglican church is in favour of a fixed week, what happens now if the Roman Catholics and Orthodox agree on a common but lunar-based date, or fail to agree any change.
There will be strong pressure in Parliament etc. for the UK to go it alone so there will be even more disunity. Protestants and Cathholics (in the British Emoire anyway) observed different dates from 1589 to 1751,could we go back to that? People will say why should we be dictated to by the Pope? Also some may insist on keeping to the old dates anyway.
I like the full moon in Holy Week as a reeeminder of the Passover and the Garden of Gethsemane.
On the plus side it would be nice if this led to Whit Monday becoming a holdiay again.
I would love to see a fixed date for Easter. Every week (or more often) we pray "Hallowed be thy name" or "May your name be kept holy." And God would be better respected in the world at large, if we agree about something concrete like this, even if we can't agree about everything.
Easter is strongly associated with Passover. The Last Supper was quite possibly a Passover meal. I think it is important that Easter retains those connections to Passover and that means using a lunar calendar.
It's a truly bizarre week. TEC is sanctioned because they (supposedly) deviated from Biblical teaching and then ABC announces he wants to abandon the Jewish history of Easter, not for reasons of faith but because in secular terms it would be good to have the Easter holiday in the same week each year.
Or perhaps a small but welcome step to promote unity between Christian churches so we can share the joy and hope Resurrection on the same day.
Third Sunday of April for Easter sounds good to me. It means it is far less likely to snow here on Easter Day. Whether there will be many people left in churches in England and Canada in 10 years to celebrate Easter is perhaps the bigger question.
To me setting a fixed date for Easter isn't about ecumenical harmony so much as practical usefulness. Here in Canada I always know that Thanksgiving is the second weekend in October. That makes it a lot easier to plan for, and to structure things around. If Easter was (for instance) always the first Sunday in April, that would give us a relatively stable date for Ash Wednesday, a stable number of Sundays after Epiphany, etc. etc. etc. It would make lectionary design a whole lot easier as well. If this got done before my retirement I'd be very grateful.
Maybe this was just a piece of business that needed dealing with and it was convenient to do so now.
Whatever the logic, maybe church leaders should not be so complacent in thinking that secular leaders and calendars will trot along nicely after the church's lead. If this happens, and consequently forces calendar reform in countries across the world, surely in some of those places there will be a push to disassociate school and public holiday schedules from religious ones altogether: yes to a fixed 'Spring holiday', but not necessarily the date of the church's bidding, and no public holiday on Good Friday or Easter Monday either.
The ABC was doubtless desperate for something "constructive" to emerge from this primates' gathering / meeting without proper notice.
So yes, a diversion, in part.
And is there any value to it? A common way of fixing the Easter date would make sense. But to me having Holy Week and Passover coincide is a good reminder of important things.
Jesus was a Jew
He was in Jerusalem to celebrate God's delivery of his people
This made the Roman occupiers nervous
So the events of Holy Week were deeply political
A fixed date for Easter would break an ancient and salutary calendrical link between Judaism and Christianity.
I very seriously doubt the Orthodox will go for a fixed day, in part because they would have to amend the Canons; the date of Easter has been a huge issue in the East, and still is among the "Old Calendrist" schism.
I think what might work from the Eastern position would be for the West to give up on the Gregorian calculation and observe Easter when the East does according to the Julian. That would mean a common date, but not a fixed date. The latter ain't gonna happen, at least as far as the East is concerned!
Ugh! Another reason to quit the AC-to avoid "McEaster!"
I was not aware that this was still a problem that needed to be fixed.
From a businessman's perspective (and ++Welby is businessman), creating a fixed date for Easter throughout the world will enable corporate interests to turn Easter into another retail event, just like Christmas. I experience no lack of Christian unity when I say "Christ is Risen!" to Orthodox friends who have celebrated Easter on a different Sunday. Let us not be diverted from our real problems.
Thanks to the posters who remind about Easter and Passover. Good point. Let's leave it the way it is. Besides, snow is guaranteed somewhere in Canada even in late April.
Kate's point bears reinforcing.
TEC has just been "consequented" for permitting something--gay marriage---that Jesus never spoke to and of which Jesus likely knew nothing at all, because in his day it did not exist.
Yet to distract from this "consequenting," the ABC now proposes to depart from a religious calendar that we know Jesus himself used and observed!
Who here is being unbiblical?
Who is responding to the culture?
Calendar-juggling while gay people burn: Feh!
Smoke and mirrors, es it certainlylooks like that. On the date of Easter though I think it would be a ddep sadness to detach Easter from the full moon, Passover, and the connection to our Lord's own religious practices. I love the "mystery" of a moveable feast connected to both the solar equinox and the lunar cycle. In my own case, my mother was baptised on her first birthday (23 April in 1916, the earliest date I believe looking at dates from 1789 on). If she had lived tobe 85 her birthday would again have been on Easter. My birthday is the earliest date for Easter I have found (23 March)and it happened in 2008, whan I was 64 and won't come up again for a very long time. I don' think uniformity, predictability, profit (undoubtedly), school cycles, business cycles, tourist ease or anything else should interfere with this wonderful tradition.
As others have said, we would lose something if we disconnected Easter from the 'live' link with Passover. Most of our time has already been homogenised to feed the economic machine, and to be 'convenient'. We should at least have one thing in the calendar that's based on the rhythms of creation, rather than the rhythms of capitalism.
Why not fix Christmas on a Sunday then? It would be no different to Remembrance Day vs Remembrance Sunday.
In the UK, there is a serious push from schools to fix the easter holiday, because when it's particularly early (as it is this year) or particularly late (as it was a couple of years ago) it seriously messes with exam timetabling in the summer. For universities it's slightly less problematic because the longer holiday pretty much accommodates all the variation (although this year we're losing a Friday, ie, losing a day's lectures for some courses, because Easter is so early that the last day of term is actually a bank holiday).
Schools would then fix the easter holiday, with the bank holidays as occasional days, but the long-term direction of travel would be to fix the bank holiday as well (cf. "Whitsun" which is now fixed as the Spring Bank Holiday).
In a society where the Christian calendar is of less and less interest, people can not unreasonably ask why holiday scheduling is in the hands of obscure pages in the book of common prayer, and a government might float the idea of (say) ceasing the Good Friday bank holiday and moving it into the summer. So some compromise would be a good idea for Christians, as they might find that (as with same-sex marriage) their power to veto moves by wider society is less than it was.
Those posting that they want t to keep the link between Holy Week and Passovoer might not realise that they don't necessarily coincide anyway - last year was a rare year when they fell on the same weekend - as they are calculated in slightly different ways. http://www.infoplease.com/spot/movablefeasts1.html
This year Passover falls on April 22.
Having a fixed date for Easter would make planning much easier, but I have found that, since school now don't have to link their holidays to Easter (but Good Friday is still a holiday ) attendances are higher when Easter falls within term time, or immediately after term ends, because families haven't gone away for a break. If it is right in the middle of the school holidays people just aren't around. I hope whoever fixes this date, they bear that in mind, and don't fix it so it is right in the middle of the holiday.
Fiddling while lgbti people burn. Smokescreen, diversionary tactics?
You just changed my mind there, Insterested Observer. :-)
On reflection, I do think it's hard to separate the merits of fixing Easter from the accompanying homophobia. Irrational as it may be, one's tainted the other
"In the UK, there is a serious push from schools to fix the easter holiday"
In Scotland many (if not all) local authorities already have a fixed Easter holiday for schools of the first two weeks of April. The schools are also off for Good Friday and Easter Monday if they do not fall in this period (as they will this year).
In the church context I actually quite like this as people are able to attend church thoughout the Holy week and Easter. IN the past when the holiday was two weeks either side of the Easter weekend we, as a family, normally were away on holiday one of the weeks, thus we had to choose whether to be at home for holy week or for Easter Day.
Not so much a problem, more an opportunity.
I am not in favour of a fixed date of Easter, but agreeing on a common date between the eastern and western churches would be a good thing. (What about Christmas?)
Interested Observer, I can see that, but, as you noted, it is an increasingly secular society; it would make more sense for universities to fix a date, call it a spring holiday and divorce it from specific religious observance.
What's the comment -- I forget -- oh: 'abandoning the Faith handed down from the Apostles in tradition to accord with the whims of secular society'. Something along those lines? So _fine_ when it can be used to create a convenient scapegoat of a small and frequently isolated minority. But different and not the same AT ALL when used in the service [allegedly] of creating a more visible unity. Yeah right. Like the Orthodox (the REAL Orthodox not Gafcon wannabes) will change how Easter is calculated. Synod of Whitby anyone? Still no doubt I should be pleased [name-saint] as there will be a run on the works of Dionysios the [Pseudo]Aeropaigitos and how to work out when Easter really is.... Oh and _everyone_ knows [even the 39 Articles of Religion, art. 21] that Ecumenical Councils need to be summoned by O Aftokrator kai Vasilefs ton Romaion... =:-) Slightly hard nowadays but unless you are going to change the Faith handed down from the Apostles in Holy Tradition to accord with the needs of secular authority... well ....
Schools have been in effect fixing the school holidays for several years now. Normally the first two weeks in April. The definition of first two weeks is modified slightly by Easter, but the only time it will make much difference is if Easter is very late. Members of other faiths have to manage their festivals in the midst of school terms.
Well, if it comes to the secular world, here in the US Christmastide begins on Halloween! (It used to be Thanksgiving Day, but a Secular Synod moved it... ) :-)
Thank you to JCF
Wasn't calculating the date of Easter one of those factors that contributed to the Great Schism between East and West?
If so, how symbolic of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the context of the primates' meeting.
Maybe the ABC can send emissaries to the cathedral the presiding bishop of TEC celebrates the Eucharist of Easter at, and in front of the assembled congregation, formally excommunicates him, the assembled congregation, and the rest of TEC.
Hilarious. We're all liberal on some issues and very, very conservative on others.
There is a "Great and Holy Council" of the Eastern Orthodox churches planned to start in Istanbul on Whit Sunday, June 19th. This is regarded as the most important such gathering for over a millennium. Any decisions must be by consensus i.e. not by majority vote.
One of the topics on the agenda is the calendar.
Does anybody know more about this? Does it relate to a fixed and/or common Easter? Are there specific proposals?
I just like Easter's date being as elusive and tricksy as the Risen Christ. I can't help feeling we'd lose a sense of divine quirkiness if we help the shops stock their Easter bunnies at a convenient time.....
Well, then if any fixing needs doing, we need to fix it to coincide with Passover, Jesus being the Paschal Lamb, and all!
"it would make more sense for universities to fix a date, call it a spring holiday and divorce it from specific religious observance."
For universities, as I say, it only matters at the limit: the problem of there not being 11 weeks between the start of term and Easter only arises occasionally: this year, term started quite early and we're losing the last Friday. However, unless universities want to open on bank holidays, which has all sorts of implications for contracts of employment, the floating Easter is problematic in years like this when Good Friday strays into March.
I'm not sure about the claim that schools are largely fixing Easter. Can someone point to an English LEA which is doing a "fixed two weeks and pick the bank holidays up as they arise" scheme? Gloucestershire tried it a couple of years ago but has since gone back to the previous scheme and in most authorities this term ends on Thursday March 24.
Agree with Mark Brunson.
Let's make Easter align more closely with Passover, not less!
My word...are universities in the UK so devoid of intelligence that they can't deal with a floating holiday?
Here in the US, spring break occurs whenever a specific school wants it to; if they give time off for Easter, it's a separate set of dates (and usually is just a long weekend--Friday to Monday at the longest)...and this in a country where the distances to travel home for a holiday are generally far greater than in the UK.
I'd note we also deal with a traditional long weekend in the fall as we celebrate Thanksgiving. (Yes, it's always the fourth Thursday in November, but that can be anywhere from the 22nd to the 28th.)
Why is it the UK schools can't cope?
If we leave things as they are and everyone outside the church moves to having a fixed break, as they did with the Whitsun/ Spring Break, my guess is that we will also lose the Good Friday holiday, which will make it much more difficult for people to observe it. I am for fixing the date, so that we at least keep it in public view as an event. Whitsun is now almost unknown, even to many churchgoers, it seems to me.
Interested Observer: 'Can someone point to an English LEA which is doing a "fixed two weeks and pick the bank holidays up as they arise" scheme? Gloucestershire tried it a couple of years ago but has since gone back to the previous scheme and in most authorities this term ends on Thursday March 24.'
I have no idea what English LEAs are doing, but Thinking Anglicans is not just about England. Here in Edmonton, Alberta our schools have taken 'spring break' for years; students get Good Friday and Easter Monday as stat holidays, but the rest of spring break is totally disconnected with Easter. As far as I can tell this has had a beneficial effect on church attendance, as people don't tend to go away for Easter weekend as much.
Local to me, the five Merseyside councils (Sefton, Liverpool, Wirral, Knowsley and St Helens) have their school spring break in the first two full weeks of April. So this year their spring term ends on 1 April.
The same is true of some (but not all) the Greater Manchester councils.
'Local to me, the five Merseyside councils (Sefton, Liverpool, Wirral, Knowsley and St Helens) have their school spring break in the first two full weeks of April. So this year their spring term ends on 1 April.' Peter Owen.
I am afraid I do not understand this,Peter.
'Hilarious. We're all liberal on some issues and very, very conservative on others.' Tim Chesterton.
I think the point is not 'liberalism' (whatever that may be), but human suffering and injustice on the one hand, and the possibility of human relationship, flourishing and creativity on the other.
Perhaps there's a Good Friday holiday in other places, not here. We work, attend Good Friday, and even fast. I attend an evening service that runs from way before I'd usually get up until near time for me to go to work, and still manage it.
Re school holidays in Merseyside the picture is more complex. The councils set dates, but schools may differ. I know Oldershaw School, for example, in Wirral finsh on Maundy Thursday, March 24th and return on April 11th. Not sure how widespread this is in Merseyside, but the website for Cheshire East gives their school holidays as the first two weeks in April and also provides a helpful link to a spreadsheet with the dates for individual schools.
Out of 151 schools in Cheshire East only 37 are following the council-appointed dates, the other 114 break up for 2 weeks on either Maundy Thursday (100) or the day before (14).
Will we, in a few years, find that Chester diocese observes Easter on a different date from Liverpool diocese, with a spreadsheet link to tell us the actual dates chosen by each individual parish?
It's to do with the public exams - GCSEs and A levels - which take place early in the summer term,Pat. I'm married to a teacher, and it can be very difficult to plan the final weeks of teaching and revision if Easter is very early or late. Schools can now fix their spring holiday without regard to Easter, but Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays, so if the two to three week holiday isn't built around Easter it can mean very disrupted timetables at a rather vital time. If we ignore the desire to fix a Spring holiday we will find it gets fixed anyway and Easter becomes as obscure and uncelebrated as Whitsun. The Church has a long history of "baptising" secular or pagan holidays with our own feasts - Christmas, Candlemas, Lammas, All Souls etc, (some of which, like Passover, were originally fixed to be in line with seasons or astronomical phenomena). I think we would be wise to pay attention to when the people we live among want to celebrate. After all, Christ is always risen, so it's something we could celebrate at any time.
Councils can only enforce term dates on the schools that they control. So far as I know academies (such as Oldershaw School) and free schools can do what they like.
What don't you understand. I was giving examples of councils that ignore when Easter is when setting school term dates.
So let me see if I understand this correctly.
The Church of England now seeks a fixed date for Easter in order to accommodate school examinations?
The mind boggles. It really does.
"It's to do with the public exams - GCSEs and A levels - which take place early in the summer term,Pat. "
Virtually every one of our 50 states has mandated final exams as well...which generally are scheduled near the end of what we call spring term--generally in late May or early June. When I was in high school in New York, the very high-stakes Regents exams were held at the end of May, so the results could be known before graduation in mid-to-late June.
I really don't see how the date of Easter should be any problem for any of this. At most it's two days out of the schedule.
Sorry your mind is boggling, Jeremy. I seem to remember, however, that Jesus said "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." The school calendar is a reality for many people in our community - not just those who are taking exams, but anyone who is any way involved with the education system. This is real life in the 21st Century; we just look arrogant if we insist that it doesn't matter if our liturgical patterns make other people's lives difficult, and, in practice now the truth is that we will not force people to take notice of our feast days by trying to impose our calendar on them - that ship has sailed. If we want to keep Easter in the public eye we need to make sure people know when it is, and that it enhances rather than complicating their lives.
We have always happily baptised the feasts of pagan cultures in the past. Passover, in any case, is only where it is in the Jewish calendar because religious meaning was overlaid on an early spring festival. All that is happening now is that the culture in which we live - largely secular - has decided it still wants a spring break. We have a golden opportunity to keep Easter central to that break.
I would agree with Jeremy that the mind boggles, and not with Anne. In France the 2 weeks Spring school Holiday has nothing to do with Easter (this year my grandchildren are off 18 April - 1 May, long after Easter. And I don't think they are the same in every school district. Easter is a Sunday anyway, so all the children are off school that day. I think Easter should be Easter and school holidays something else.
Well, Anne, I don't see that anyone is seriously inconvenienced by separating a secular holiday from a religious observance - other faiths are *required* to do it, all the time, even for fasting observances, right? Since this is all about convenience, separating Easter from "official holiday" seems the best option.
Re the "great and holy council" of the Orthodox churches, it seems this has been many decades in the planning so the calendar being on the agenda does not appear to be related to this.
If all the churches were really close to agreement wouldn't they have held a joint news conference in Istanbul, Jerusalem or Rome. I cannot imagine they would leave it to the Anglican leader to announce in a news conference principally about something else.
If the Anglican church goes ahead with this it will exacerbate divisions. Regardless of Canterbury many Anglicans will not move without Rome; Rome will not move without Constantinople; Constantinople will not move without Moscow; and Moscow will not move.
Re the Qunisext Council de nos jours, it now is looking apparently that it will not take place in Istanbul given sensitivities of Russians travelling to Turkey but in a suburb of Geneva, CH.